Editor’s comment: The luxury housing curse strikes again

Identical paragraphs on last week's business page.

Identical paragraphs on last week's business page. - Credit: Archant

A (slightly stale) hot cross bun is on offer for those of you who spotted that the opening lines of two separate stories on last week’s business page were identically worded.

You’ve guessed it – like both those tales, this is a column about expensive luxury flats, or, rather, about flats that aren’t affordable (or even “affordable”). But if you thought the loss of office space in the south of the borough was the only casualty of the “permitted development” legislation we covered on that page, you’re in for a grim surprise.

It isn’t shocking in the slightest that Bode has done what the law has enabled and encouraged it to do at Hill House in Archway – it is, after all, usually left to councils rather than developers to ensure that building projects do the right thing. For no reason other than being generally good people would Bode have voluntarily used some of its presumably eyewatering profits to chip away at the housing crisis gripping Islington. The firm isn’t a charity, after all, even though it has benefited from an enormous government handout in legislative terms.

It’s good to see three ward councillors levelling a similar criticism at City North N4, though worth noting that their own council’s planning committee signed it off however many years ago. I’ve said here before – do I ever make any original points? – that councils should put more faith in their bargaining position when it comes to insisting on affordable housing, because developers are still in line for huge profits whatever social good they commit to doing and are unlikely to turn down a goldmine just because it has a few conditions attached. But that simply doesn’t apply to Hill House, where the town hall has no recommendations to stick to, no legal backing to turn down an application. The whole thing is nonsense.