Sunday, 20 October 2013

Housing boom

After a bit of a hiccup, otherwise known as the recent recession, the frenzy of housebuilding seems to be back in a big way. Along the Lea Valley in east London, the old factories are disappearing one by one, most of them simply bulldozed to clear the site for this kind of architecture-by-numbers apartment blocks. These are fairly typical, built on an industrial area in Walthamstow. There is the usual depressing split between the market apartments, which are quite nicely laid out, and the so-called affordable part which looks a bit like an open prison. Integrating the two is a common aspiration and if I've understood correctly the same developer has done that successfully elsewhere - but that doesn't necessarily happen. It's very much easier to resolve the differences by splitting the site.

In the foreground, another factory bites the dust. There are two problems with all this - firstly, one of those old terraced houses that surround this site are almost certainly what people really want but are now becoming unaffordable, and secondly, those old factories provide affordable business premises which are not getting replaced. Things do have to change, but you can't help wondering how it will work out in the long term.