Residential towers have got rather bad press of late, often from the same voices. Arguments against high rise are that they become ghettos for the rich, bought by overseas investors as somewhere to deposit cash, and will do nothing towards that vital aim; ‘solving the housing crisis’. Okay, one or two towers may seem extortionately expensive in rather fringe locations where the price of being 30-40 floors high doesn’t correlate to what’s going on below. But that’s not the whole story. Just like many other issues, it’s wrong to paint all towers with the same brush.
Take Minavil House in Alperton for example. It’s been on our radar for a while actually, continually having been site visited (twice annually) since 2011 when it gained consent for an 11 storey development for 55 homes (27 private and 28 social) and a Lidl supermarket. Since then nothing has happened, with the building on site, yet to even be demolished. The site currently:
However, a new planning application to replace the 2011 consent has now been submitted by R55 in collaboration with Genesis and Lidl. New proposals are for a 26 storey building to provide 251 new homes, far increasing the density. Again, a supermarket will also be provided, along with office space and a canal side cafe. However it’s not just the amount of homes on offer here, it’s what type of homes. Of the 251 new homes, 71 will be private, 45 will be social rent and 135 will be shared ownership, making the affordable element a massive 72%.
If the original consent had been built out, 17 social rent homes, 135 shared ownership homes and 44 private market homes just wouldn’t have existed. “Safety deposit boxes in the sky” and other hyperbolic statements that surround towers like that they create ghettos for the rich, as this example shows is nonsense. It’s the recent planning and economic environment which has tarred towers with a bad reputation. They can however be a thing for good and contribute to London’s housing need.