Money fever rages in Dalston as buy-to-let revives and property becomes ever bigger business

THE GAMBLE taken by the developer Barratt on its controversial Dalston Square flats scheme has paid off.

Britain’s biggest housebuilder resisted the temptation to include the site with the sale of much of the property it held, its “land bank”, as the onset of recession in 2008 slashed the developer’s share price by more than 90 per cent.

Barratt gritted its teeth, ploughed  on with the Dalston Square project and marketed it in Beijing, Hong Kong and other Asian cities. Banks again started offering buy-to-let loans.

Mark Clare, Barratt chief executive, said that investors were tempted by rental yields of up to 7 per cent. There had been “major interest in our schemes in Dalston and Lewisham”. Individuals were looking for the quality and security of new build.

The buy-to-let sector has helped Barratt to record its first annual profit in four years: £42.7 million, pre-tax in the year to June.

The third phase of Dalston Square flats is due for completion next summer and is still mostly unsold. Barratt says that lettings of £330 to £550 a week should return between 5 per cent and 7 per cent.

The controversy arose several years ago when Hackney council overrode local people’s wishes for the site. A campaign to save a Victorian theatre failed and it was demolished, as was the concept that 50 per cent of new accommodation in London should be affordable.

David Altheer 170911  

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13 thoughts on “Money fever rages in Dalston as buy-to-let revives and property becomes ever bigger business

  1. Better late than never; “[I should point out to those who do not know of OPEN Dalston that it is a campaigning organisation and that, as with any interest group, its issuings take clear positions. I declare an interest: I am a founder-member. Of course, not all the members always support all its actions in all ways. That’s democracy. – Ed.]”

  2. Chewbacker, it was you who claimed, without any evidence, that I had no interest in the medical, educational and spatial needs of residents. It was also you who freely entered the debate about OPENDalston and local people’s views – I’m not drawing you into anything. If you don’t want to comment, don’t.

  3. @Mia and Maurice Bishop: No, Benjamin doesn’t live in a shoebox in Dalston Sq. I hear he doesn’t even live in the area. Apparently he lives in a nice pad in Clapton, E5!
    Benjamin, I am making nothing up. But much of your argument appears based on the false assumption that I am in any way connected with OPENDalston. I am not, I merely admire its selfless work. You are also wrong to assume I have serious problems with the free market economy; I am firmly entrenched in and committed to it.
    You are wrong to assume I don’t like modern architecture. My heart sings when I look out of my office window at the graceful Kinetica building here in Dalston. And I’ve recently commissioned a modern office/residential building of my own (which raised no objections).
    I object to poorly designed high-rise buildings, developed for short-term financial gain, and with little consideration for people’s services, particularly in my neighbourhood, Dalston.
    Comparisons can be fair and succinct ways of putting forward an argument, eg, modern developments in Dalston v Croydon.
    I believe it is not me who has an obsession but, given the volume and tone of your comments on this and other Hackney sites, that you have a preoccupation with high-rise buildings, verging on the unhealthy.
    And please don’t draw me into your pedantic complaint to Loving Dalston about OPENDalston: it is bordering on vexatious.

  4. chewbacker, you’re just making things up now. What gives you the impression that I don’t care about medical, educational and spatial needs?
    I really don’t understand this obsession with comparing Dalston to Croydon. It just seems lazy and pointless. The only points you seem to be making is that you don’t like modern architecture and have a serious problem with a free market economy.
    I cannot take seriously your claim that you “worked hard at grassroots level to listen to local people’s concerns and voiced them to those in power who were willing to listen” as if you had no agenda. OPENDalston is an ultra-conservative heritage group that is naturally opposed to modern development.
    Perhaps you could show me an example of how OPENDalston has “tackled vigorously” the housing crisis?
    Given that you’re interested in Dalston’s heritage, how can you say that Dalston has “little heritage remaining”? Go for a walk.
    But I’m pleased that you seem to agree with me that Loving Dalston’s claim that OPENDalston’s campaign was synonymous with local people’s wishes cannot be substantiated.
    And incidentally, Dalston Square is not my success – it has nothing to do with me.

  5. Mia & Maurice Bishop, no, I don’t live there. But if you’re genuinely concerned about the fact that London has some of the smallest room-sizes in the western world (and some of the most expensive in the world) you should be making the argument for more high-rise buildings since it is the shortage of housing and the planners’ preference for low-rise that has got us into the desperate state of affairs.

  6. Benjamin: You are a local person and you think that “any attempt to address London’s chronic and dire housing shortage is a good thing” (but, apparently, regardless of the consequences).
    I am a local person and — like you — I think east London’s housing shortage should be tackled vigorously. But, unlike you, I think there should be equal consideration for the needs of current and future residents (medical, educational, spatial, etc) and awareness of the consequences of increasing the density of housing in the area.
    The needs of Dalston residents have been ignored by lofty (and distant) planners and architects, and short-term investors and speculators.
    Long-term investors would recognise that – in terms of travelling time to central London – places like Dalston offer very little benefit over places like central Croydon. Of course, Dalston Square shares many of the architectual characteristics of central Croydon – cold, faceless, shoddy, windy and heartless – but it cannot compete with Croydon on value, educational facilities and medical services, low crime, etc.
    I believe that in addition to trying to preserve and utilise what little heritage remains here, the OpenDalston campaign worked hard at grassroots level to listen to local people’s concerns and voiced them to those in power who were willing to listen. Unlike the wealthy investors and property developers out to make a fast buck and unlike the politicians, architects and planners with their fat salaries and expense accounts, local people freely gave their time and money to try to make Dalston a better and more sustainable place to live.
    Benjamin: You can wallow in your success, as Dalston slowly but surely transmogrifies into a clone of Croydon, but please don’t denigrate the efforts of local people who tried to make it more bearable. The “proof” you are demanding doesn’t come wrapped up in neat and tidy little packages any more than do the sentiments of people who are genuinely “Loving Dalston”.

  7. Ooh. Tiny flats above an overground station, on a main high street, for rent at £300+ a week. TEMPTING.

  8. Richard Plank: I too am a local person and I think that any attempt to address London’s chronic and dire housing shortage is a good thing. I would guess that the inhabitants of Dalston Square also think it a good thing.
    Of course, none of this proves one way or the other whether the views of the OPENDalston campaign were synonymous with “local people’s wishes”, as Loving Dalston claimed.

  9. Benjamin: I count myself as a “local person”, having lived in Dalston for many years. Myself, and everyone I’ve spoken to on the subject, would much rather have seen Hackney’s grand Victorian heritage restored rather than witness the demolition and replacement of this historical architecture by ugly, uninspired blocks of tiny, (un)affordable flats and a few retail units. Who were the actual benefactors in this scenario? Oh, I see Barratt made £42.7 million in pre-tax profits. That’s a relief…

  10. “at least of those interested in expressing them”? (ie at least those interested in expressing them to an opposition group). That sounds like one huge caveat to me especially since you use the “consultation” of a campaigning opposition group as evidence.

  11. My expression was questionable, yes. I thought at length about the issue and decided, that the OpenDalston campaign was “synonymous with local people’s wishes”; at least of those interested in expressing them. For example, OpenDalston made strenuous efforts to consult the public. I am always grateful to readers such as you for helping me to maintain balance in this news site’s reports. — David

  12. Is it fair to characterise the OpenDalston campaign as being synonymous with “local people’s wishes”?

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