Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

It Only Takes One Man to Have a Good Idea; It May Be Hard to Love Your Builder but This One Has the Formula for Success, Discovers Philippa Stockley

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

It Only Takes One Man to Have a Good Idea; It May Be Hard to Love Your Builder but This One Has the Formula for Success, Discovers Philippa Stockley

Article excerpt

Byline: Philippa Stockley

TWO billion pounds is to be spent on new affordable homes in the capital. The focus of this large-scale investment will be Fish Island in east London and a new town in Thamesmead.

The projects are the work of a housing provider that, for 155 years, has simply been getting on with the job.

So who is this big hitter? Most Londoners link the name Peabody with Victorian brick mansion blocks of lowcost rented flats dotted about the city -- and they are right. But the charitable housing trust launched by 19th-century banker and philanthropist George Peabody now owns and manages 29,000 London homes and provides affordable housing for 80,000 people. It builds about 1,000 new homes in London a year.

Peabody sells new-build and sharedownership homes, and its new kind of mixed-tenure mansion blocks, designed by award-winning architects, are stylish, hi-tech and low energy, in landscaped settings and central locations, such as Silchester at Ladbroke Grove in the west and Mint Street in Bethnal Green in the east. Design plaudit-winning Peabody schemes include Mint Street by Pitman Tozer Architects, Darbishire Place in Whitechapel, by Niall McLaughlin, and Nile Street in Hoxton N1, a particularly eye-catching 21st-century block.

This summer Peabody will merge with housing association Family Mosaic, keep the Peabody name and almost double its holdings to 55,000 homes. Peabody chief executive Stephen Howlett says economies of scale will increase capacity and concentrate housing in particular areas, leading to more efficient maintenance.

A bigger Peabody will also have "even more clout". The charity's targets are impressive: last year it beat its own with a record 1,080 new London homes. At Fish Island it is building 580 new homes, while in South Thamesmead, Bexley, it has planning permission for 1,500 more, plus new shops and open spaces. …

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