Barratt's Chief Executive Mark Clare is on a charm offensive 'We are trying to build what our customers want rather than what we thought they wanted or what the planners wanted’ explains Clare. But his comments are not purely altruistic. ‘We are also moving away from flats as fast as we can because people can’t get mortgages on them’ he adds.
Despite the thousands of overcrowded families on Hackney's waiting list it's a once in a lifetime missed opportunity for Dalston as Barratt lashes up another 9 blocks of 330 private flats for sale at Dalston Square.
Although Barratt predicts a double-dip in house prices there's no sign of it in Dalston - East London house prices have been surfing the Olympic 2012 wave. Barratt, laden with debt, needs to keep prices high and has been drip feeding supply and continuing its overseas marketing to target cash rich buy-to-let investors. As we have reported previously two thirds of homes built in London last year were reportedly sold to buy-to-let purchasers.
The government's latest spending cuts slash subsidy for affordable housing, and housing benefit, so local people now have even less chance of buying or renting an affordable home. But is Barratt's Mark Clare bovvered? He's had a £568,000 bonus this year and he's won the £1billion deal to rebuild Basildon.
The crash in land values has reportedly seen housebuilders stocking up on development sites at bargain prices - but still they argue against building affordable homes. One authority, Wakefield Council, has sucessfully fought for its 30% affordable housing targets in one new Barratt development.
But in Dalston, Hackney and the GLA rolled over. They say that, because of the eyewatering sums of public money they have already spent 0n the £63million Slab, they've waived the rules. Despite their policy targets of 50% affordable homes, no affordable housing can be built on The Slab at all. So when Hackney's Mayor Pipe calls The Slab "a useful bit of development land" one has to ask "Useful to whom?"