Rat and Mouse
Area: E16

According to research by the Future Foundation, single women looking to become less single should move to London, specifically the City and Newham where men outnumber women 1.55 to 1 and 1.26 to 1 respectively. If you’re a single man, London still holds promise, but the FF suggests you focus your nights out in Enfield and Wandsworth. More here.

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Converted sheds have become an increasingly mainstream – if illegal – part of the London property market. It's a logical development, given the explosion of property prices throughout the capital, and the huge shortage of supply. As central London becomes more expensive, people are pushed further out and rental prices even in Newham, which is the second most deprived borough in England and Wales, are rising fast.

Specifically, the story of a healthcare assistant's £350 month shed - no hot water, a garden used as a toilet. 

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Following Housing Minister Grant Shapps' claims on Radio 4's Today programme this morning that there were more than a thousand affordable properties available in the private rented sector within a five mile radius of Newham (he'd apparently used Rightmove), the story has become an argument as to whether this is a tip-of-the-iceberg situation or a deliberately political move by a London council ahead of important local elections.

The most interesting coverage has been online at the Guardian. Blogging, Polly Curtis takes a closer look at Shapps' Rightmove research and calls into questions how many properties are actually available to social tenants (polls of landlords have shown that less than half are prepared to rent to benefits claimants).

Her blog also benefits from a long and fascinating email from a Newham resident on the receiving end of benefits cuts:

We are still waiting to be rehoused- my father has tried ringing local estate agents to find private housing but they all refused to take people with housing benefits. Although Newham council are trying to help we are not considered a priority as my father's youngest child is 17 so our situation is not considered as urgent as others. I believe sometime in the next couple of months we are due to be evicted from our current flat with no idea of where we will end up.

A link to watch as it develops through today.

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The BBC has revealed evidence suggesting Newham Council has reached out to a Stoke-on-Trent housing association for help re-housing as many as 500 families no longer able to afford to live in the area after new housing benefit caps came into force. (Stoke is approximately a 170 mile road trip from Newham.) The Government had denied the policy would lead to widespread social cleansing, but the leaked communication with the Stoke housing association appears to suggest otherwise, and pressure groups are sure to interpret it as a sign of things to come. More here.

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Blocks of public housing projects, known as council estates, are bisected by business streets lined with discount liquor stores, betting shops and fast-food outlets. Residents say improvements in Stratford are making it worse for the other parts of Newham by drawing people away.

An interesting piece in Bloomberg highlights Newham's poor property performance in spite of generally positive house price movements in London and particularly high hopes for the Olympic region. The west of Newham is more likely to benefit, according to a local agent, but poor facilities need to be improved in central and eastern areas (West Ham, Plaistow) if demand is to rise.

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It's going to be called Silvertree: a 24-storey tower by Richard Hywel Evans, on the Docklands waterfront with views over Royal Docks, and incorporating ground source and biomass energy and solar panels to both create power and heat water, and achieving Code for Sustainable Homes level 4. Expect 161 one, two and three-bedroom apartments when the tower's finished sometime in late 2012. Work starts in the summer.

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Sometimes the Telegraph can seem a little Thames Gateway-obsessed - but, you've got to hand it to them, they know how to do these redevelopment features. Here's Sheila Prophet with a very nice state-of-play piece, looking at Brent Cross Cricklewood, Paddington Basin, King's Cross, Elephant & Castle, Convoy's Wharf Deptford, Silvertown Quays, oh, okay, and Greenwich Peninsula. She also asks, "Should you invest?" Elephant & Caslte, King's Cross (above) and Silvertown (below) get something of a thumbs up.

Ah smell that? That's the smell of money, Mrs Turveydrop... [October 3, 2006]

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