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  • georgie h

Geolocation: the skills to bid

Updated: Nov 28, 2020

Building on my study into the housing crisis in Southwark I have also been writing/angrily tweeting about my experience with the Southwark Council homesearch site - this is the place where residents of Southwark place their bids on council and social housing properties. Currently there are 13,000+ people on the waiting list, varying being in bands 1-4. Despite the large levels of "regeneration" demolishing estates which had housed thousands of residents (who are now displaced), to replace them with even more properties, much of this housing is simply not affordable. A key example of this continues to be the Heygate Estate/Elephant park, where the developers Landlease have built a majority of privately owned/rented flats.

Google maps image showing pinpoint of Walworth area housing office
Figure 1: Google Maps search result for Chatteris Way, Walworth
Figure 2: Screenshot of a property on Chatteris Way on the bidding list

Today I went on the bidding list to bid on a flat that I ultimately know I will not get due to how far down I am on the waiting list currently. A regular set of properties appeared on 'Chatteris Way' in Walworth - a street which when searching on Google Maps, simply does not exist. As seen in Figure 1, this search directed me to a pinpoint of "Walworth area housing office", highlighting that this does not yet exist on the map.

A huge problem I have found with the housing bidding system is the lack of information often appearing with properties. For example as figure 2 shows, there is no photo to even indicate what the outside of the property looks like - let alone the interior of the property. This for me has led to spending a huge amount of time doing online digging to find out what the property looks like and to see if it is suitable. To identify that Chatteris Way is a new road on the Elephant Park development, I used Southwark Planning Application Search where I found that this was one of the few affordable units on the Elephant Park development site.

Figure 2 shows that this 1-bed property is £204.08 per week - an extortionate amount for most people in Southwark. When working at my 0-hour contracted job at a pub, not only did my weekly pay vary, but it rarely was over £200 a week despite often working 20+ hours whilst studying. Most council rent is between £90-£150 per week, a much more affordable rate.

Residents on the waiting list shouldn't have to be doing so much extra research to find out what their property looks like and where it is.

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