I’ve noticed more and more ‘trendy’ people creeping into Stamford Hill, where I’m from, lately. Presumably they were priced out of Shoreditch; then out of Dalston; and then, inevitably, out of Stoke Newington. I thought they might bypass Stamford Hill entirely and leapfrog to Tottenham, but that hasn’t really happened.
Tottenham still feels almost a world away from Stoke Newington Church Street, or even the High Street. There are few trendy coffee shops (I mean independent ones like The Haberdashery or LazySocial), or shops such as Olive Loves Alfie. There’s not even really any bookshops. There are not in visible evidence lots of white middle-class families, to the degree that you see in Clissold Park. I know that some trendy hipster types are there in Tottenham, but you don’t see them in the way you do in Hackney.
But it’s likely to change. The pressures of lack of new housing can only point to Tottenham (and Walthamstow). There’s nowhere else for people to go in that part of London who have been priced out of Hackney (both renting and buying). I’m certain that Tottenham will become a very different place in ten years time.
As for Stamford Hill, it never really changes. It remains an anachronism, maybe due to its vast Orthodox Ashkenazic Jewish population. There are off-beat clubs such as The Others and Mascara Bar, but it still doesn’t feel any different to when I grew up there. The Egg Stores are still there (albeit upgraded), still with that retro 70s font. The buildings on Stamford Hill Broadway still look like they could do with a lick of paint, with an awful amount of peeling walls – the same that you get all over London. Yet these are buildings that could cost an unbelievable amount of money now.
My parent’s house, meanwhile, a nice Victorian on a street with a row of them, would now fetch somewhere in the region of £800,000-£900,000 (hell, it won’t be long before it’s a million), despite the fact that it cost barely £25,000 when they bought it around 1977 in pre-gentrification Hackney, an area virtually ignored at the time by the big estate agents.
That says a lot about where London is going, in fact. London’s housing bubble, the dearth of any decent new housing, and successive government’s inability to build any new housing – all problems stemming from Thatcher’s policy of selling council housing in the 80s, and thus depleting the national housing stock - has meant that mediocre buildings in areas previously considered less than salubrious are now going for absurd amounts of money. This has been exacerbated by a lack of rights of tenants, enforced more in certain other northern European countries, which has effectively allowed landlords here to get away with mediocre housing at inflated prices.
Like a plane crash survivor living off his last water and food provisions when stranded miles from anywhere, property has become so valuable that as a result desperate buyers in the capital will compromise on any sub-standard property. And it’ll only get worse, as mortgages reach absurd levels.
Add to that many central London locations now effectively a ghost town - with valuable housing bought by rich Arabs, Russians, and Singaporeans, who barely live in them, instead accruing money from the value of the property - and you have a recipe for an almighty housing crash. Less than ten years after the economic downturn, and watching what happened to Spain and Ireland’s economies after their own housing bubbles (not to mention London’s own housing bubble in the 2000s), you would think the Government would not be encouraging this madness to continue by pumping in money into Help to Buy schemes that will only prolong an unsustainable boom.
Haven’t we learnt anything from 2007-8?