Wednesday, 7 November 2018

The Fall of Skysores...?

As reported in the Guardian back in April 
London’s skyline is to be transformed over the next decade with a record 510 tall towers, more than 20 storeys high, planned or under construction. The total is up from 455 towers in the pipeline in 2016, according to research from the industry forum New London Architecture (NLA) and real estate consultancy GL Hearn.
Construction has started on 115 towers, also a record. Over the past two years, work started on more projects than in the preceding five years combined.
Meanwhile as poor London gets bulldozed out of all recognition in favour of these monstrosities (and despite the horror of Grenfell), a most amusing article in The Daily Mail in the past few days suggests that the trend for multi-million pound apartments costing the equivalent of several Scottish castles (but on leasehold) in stab central may be about to break.
Something to thank Brexit for at last... as overpaid bankers and Russian mafiosi desert our shores? Or decide they prefer the white stucco town house in Notting Hill Actually after all.
Or perhaps the secret is out that these blocks are only built to last an average of 50 years with many not even making that before changing fashions (and land values) fell them, making them a shockingly bad investment, aside from the sky high maintenance charges and leasehold fees.
Many of these developments have been marketed exclusively to overseas investors prepared to buy their 'gold bars in the sky', no questions asked, offplan and upfront, quite often intentionally never to be lived in. Money laundering laws have been bypassed for such buyers. Certainly no pub or railway siding is safe from the march of the monster blocks.

Meanwhile homelessness grows worse and those serving the coffee shops and public amenities of central London are often to be found living in sheds in the suburbs or ten to a room in a 1930s semi for the privilege.

While not officially announced the backdraft or second recession is well and truly upon us as we continue paying for Blair's war, forever PFI projects and an education system, national health service and welfare state buckling at the knees. The country is in crisis, no emergency measures are in place (ie to prevent empty buildings), but perhaps the silver lining is that a crash might be the saving of London.

There will continue to be plenty of advocates saying we have to 'build upwards', despite little evidence suggesting this particularly improves housing density and plenty of evidence showing that living so artificially is detrimental to human health but perhaps we should simply start accepting that not everyone can live, rent or buy in the same place and it is a creates an equally unhealthy lack of socio-economic/geographical balance when they do.

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