Sunday, 02 August 2015

Freedom of information request reveals extent of empty luxury homes

Just 19 households living in flats at One Hyde Park

Fewer than a quarter of the apartments in a luxury £1.2 billion development in central London are permanently occupied by individuals, a freedom of information request has revealed.

One Hyde Park in Knightsbridge, an 86-apartment development marketed as ‘the most exclusive address in the world’, has 19 flats registered as ‘occupied by individuals’.

According to data obtained by Inside Housing under the Freedom of Information Act on 9 September, Westminster Council treats 16 of the properties as empty and 26 as second homes for council tax purposes.

The remaining 23 are registered as occupied by companies. Of the 16 empty properties, 13 have been sold, according to the developer.

Similarly, at the 77-home, £400 million The Lancasters development, also in Hyde Park, three homes are empty, 27 are second homes, 18 are occupied by companies and 30 are occupied by individuals. The development’s website says all properties in The Lancasters are sold.

Karen Buck, Labour MP for Westminster North, said: ‘Although One Hyde Park is an extreme example, it is nonetheless telling us something about ghost town central London.

‘Coupled with the fact that they are not providing affordable housing onsite, this is having the effect of transforming central London - squeezing out affordable housing to make way for empty luxury developments.’

Developer Prime Grande (Guernsey) - a joint venture between Christian Candy’s CPC Group and the former Qatari prime minister’s private company Waterknights - provided 70 units of affordable housing in Pimlico as part of the planning obligation for One Hyde Park. A spokesperson stressed all residents pay the correct level of council tax.

There is no discount for second or empty homes in Westminster.

Minerva, developer of The Lancasters, did not comment.

Mured Qureshi, Labour London Assembly member covering Westminster, said: ‘People are using property as an investment - essentially as a bank account - and this is distorting the housing market right across London.’

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