A2Dominion Housing Group Ltd is a Housing Association that builds private developments for the property market via it’s FABRICA by A2Dominion arm. As an exempt charity registered under the Co-operative & Community Benefit Societies Act 2014, A2Dominion pays no tax as part of its operations.
The quality of A2Dominion’s social and ‘affordable’ housing is often dubious and has resulted in many disgruntled tenants, as shown by this petition:
One ‘affordable’ housing block, Woods House, built and managed by A2Dominion in Victoria, a building erected in the shadow of a much plusher private block boasting units that feature balconies — balconies that weren’t included for tenants of Woods House in case they were used for ‘unsightly storage’ purposes – are all what is referred to as “single aspect”. “Single aspect” is a design ‘feature’ which, according to the Mayor of London’s Interim London Housing Design Guide [PDF], is the least preferred option for use in London builds.
Consequently, Woods House with its mean and inhumane windows suffers from endless problems with overshadowing, extreme, perpetual noise from screeching trains and significant overheating that results in uncomfortable living conditions that jeopardises residents’ health and safety.
As a ‘solution’ to the innate design flaws of Woods House, A2Dominion issued a leaflet to residents complaining of temperatures up to a searing 37°C with suggestions on how to cool their flats down. The farcical document suggests, “Avoid cooking with your oven and hob during the day as these will add heat to the high temperatures encountered in these hours. As an alternative, microwaves produce far less waste heat.”
Further problems with A2Dominion developments and the services they are supposed to provide were highlighted by Feltham and Heston MP Seema Malhotra who said:
- Woods House, London: A2Dominion tenants service charge horrors
- MPs meet to discuss concerns about housing association A2Dominion
- A2Dominion apologises after flats at Brentford’s Great West Quarter are again left without hot water
- Romford residents challenge housing association over ‘excessive’ charges
- Mother’s ‘disgust’ over three-week heating cut
Affordable Housing, Affordable Rents?
A2Dominion’s ‘affordable housing‘ rents (which don’t include their spiralling service charges), according to their own literature (PDF), are set at between 65%-80% of ‘average market rents’. Local West Hampstead estate agents’ figures list the average market rents in West Hampstead as follows:
Even at the lower 65% end of the scale (again, not including service charges) the cost of a one-bedroom flat would be around £240pw, increasing to nearly £300pw at the 80% rate. A small family needing two bedrooms could expect to pay around £290pw at 65%, rising to £360pw at 80%. Three bedrooms at 65% will mean having to find £450pw through to a whacking £560pw at the 80% rate (again, this doesn’t include A2Dominion’s extortionate service charges or council tax).
These figures are at today’s prices. When the West Hampstead Square, Iverson Road and Liddell Road developments are completed, average rents in West Hampstead will increase still further, with a knock-on effect on any ‘affordable’ housing scheme.
We have no idea what percentage of the 200 ‘units’ proposed on the Travis Perkins site will actually be ‘affordable’ or offered at social rents as this is not specified on A2Dominion’s website. Camden Council has claimed that the development is expected to provide 50% social and affordable housing.
For A2Dominion any percentage increase in the affordable ratio is just met with an increase in the number of private properties it will build, hence the over-intensive mass proposal of 200 units on a 1.6 acre site. For comparison purposes, Ballymore’s 7 towers on 2.5 acres of former railway land will provide just 198 housing units.
What we do know is that any affordable housing, according to a reply from A2Dominion’s PR firm Instinctif, will be concentrated in the blocks to the front facing West End Lane, preserving the nice ‘new green space’ for those who can afford the £500,000 plus that A2Dominion price their London one-bedroom flats at or just short of £1,000,000 for two bedrooms.
Is West Hampstead really short of properties at these prices or does it instead urgently require homes that all ordinary working people so desperately need? Aren’t we really just witnessing more and more glass and steel erections which are stealing and selling our skyline to wealthy investors and, in the process, destroying the area and its welcoming and diverse community?
As Tom Murtha, a former housing association chief executive, recently wrote in an excellent article on what housing associations have become when compared to their original goals and values: