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Temporary pods may have lasting effect on London

Prefab pods being put up by one council are claimed to be a stopgap measure but I bet they will still be there in 10 years

SIMON WHITE, DIRECTOR, LONDON’S SURVEYORS
SIMON WHITE, DIRECTOR, LONDON’S SURVEYORS

I don’t know whether Hammersmith and Fulham Council should be applauded or not.

Of course any initiative to ease the pressure on its housing list is to be welcomed but there are surely other things to be considered.

I refer of course to Hammersmith and Fulham’s decision to allow Ducane Housing Association to erect 44 prefabricated pods on the top of a 1970s estate directly opposite Hammersmith hospital (pictured below).

We are told these will be for low-paid key workers such as teachers and nurses.

According to Ducane all pods will have excellent sound and thermal insulation and the council says this is a brilliant way of providing much-needed accommodation.

We are told more are planned and all these pods are to sit atop similar 1960s and 1970s built blocks of flats.

The insinuation is that this is a temporary measure and it must surely be the case as these structures can’t be robust enough to have a lengthy life expectancy, particularly as they will be in exposed locations.

But I bet these pods will still be in place in 10 years because we have been here many times before.

After World War II local authorities devised many ways to provide temporary accommodation such as Airey houses, examples of which still survive to this day.

Councils are of course judge and jury in such matters as private individuals would never get planning permission for such a scheme. But that’s not a problem when you have the convenience of being able to grant planning permission to yourself.

And I also wonder how the residents beneath these pods feel or whether they were even consulted. One would hope so, but being able to give yourself planning permission does put you in a strong position, no matter how vociferous the opposition.

If I had struggled to buy my top floor council flat and someone plonked an oversized biscuit tin on my roof I would have something to say about it. It reminds me of when I was a student and travelled through Mexico by train, which I wouldn’t want one of my kids doing today, I hasten to add.

In a railway cutting in the middle of the Mexican desert was a row of disused carriages being used as homes. I realise this is not a great analogy but I bet those carriages are still there and the families living in them were promised better accommodation all those years ago.

I am also concerned this idea will become widespread. Undoubtedly the appearance of London in certain areas could be affected. Perhaps I am being a party pooper but let’s see if my concerns are valid only time will tell.

 

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  • Mike Wilkins 5th September 2011 at 12:36 pm

    Dear Simon,
    You seem to have made some erroneous assumptions in your comments. 1. the pods are permanent homes and recognised as such by NHBC.2. We applied for planning permission and we are not the same as the local authority. 3. out tenants are very happy Id say both in the new homes and the ones underneath that we refurbished as part of a £13m scheme.
    So these are permamnent homes Im not sure why you thought prefabrication these days means temporary.