Skip to main content

The great British property divide

An article in today’s Observer reports how quite ordinary Victorian houses in Albion Drive, Hackney (on the west side of London Fields), have continued to shoot up in value even during the recession and are now selling for the best part of a million pounds.

It is worth remembering that in the 1970s Hackney Borough Council knocked down whole neighbourhoods with houses like those in Albion Drive. The council claimed then that they were unfit for human habitation and were beyond economic repair. The only reason why the Albion Drive houses survived was because of well-organised local opposition against Hackney Council’s demolition plans. Ironically, many of Hackney Council’s 1970s developments were so unsatisfactory that they themselves had to be demolished after only thirty years.

Not mentioned in the article is that the present attractions of the area have much to do with the new London Overground system which has transformed transport in the inner London suburbs in a ring all the way round from Battersea in the west, through Dalston, Dockland, Brockley, Camberwell and Brixton; Albion Drive is a short walk from the recently re-opened station at Haggerston (photograph), between Shoreditch and Dalston Junction. The latter station, which had been closed between 1986 and 2010, is transforming the whole district.

London Overground was the product of an initiative by Transport for London when the Greater London Authority was under the leadership of Ken Livingston, and the scheme was driven through by Dave Wetzel, a long-standing LVT advocate. A lot of public investment has gone into the project. It has put a lot of money in property owners’ pockets. Land value taxation now, please.