An award-winning property developer has been given the green light to convert a derelict pub into compact “pocket flats” in Hackney, the second such development scheme in the borough to be granted permission.
Pocket Living is converting a former cabaret pub, The Deuragon Arms, into a 29-flat development specifically targeted at young, middle-earning Londoners struggling to buy their first home.
The Deuragon Arms, which has been closed for over ten years, was known as one of the best musical pubs in the East End in 1950’s, especially among the gay community. It was popular for its drag shows and female impersonators, featuring performers such as cabaret star Ray Martine and TV personality Daniel Farson.
Pocket Homes sell for at least 20% less than the market rate and don’t cost more than £231,000. The flats boast “lots of natural light” and “great storage”, features in a home many Londoners are hard-pressed to find. The developers prioritise first-time buyers and workers earning less than £66k a year.
Marc Vlessing, founder of Pocket Living, told The Guardian: “We really need to start waking up to the fact that if we don’t start building enough [affordable] housing, then we’re going to lose the people who make the economy work.”
“In the next 10 years it is possible that housing becomes a socially divisive issue on the scale of the Brixton riots. I don’t think that’s at all unimaginable in London.”
Pocket Home owners are described as “city makers who contribute so much economically, socially and culturally to our city, yet are unable to buy their first home”.
The company was awarded a £21.7m loan last year by mayor of London, Boris Johnson, as part of a scheme to introduce over 4,000 compact one-bedroom homes across 8 London boroughs.
Cabinet Member for Housing, councillor Philip Glanville, told the Hackney Citizen: “The launch of these new homes in Hackney by Pocket is a welcome addition to our partnership working as a Council to develop more, and varied, home ownership options for Hackney residents.”
Since 2009, Pocket Homes has won awards from the Evening Standard, Camden Building Quality Awards, the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), and the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).