yuppie flats for sale
Firgrove Court boarded-up prior to demolition
flats overlooking wooded parkland
dead brown turf laid in front of marketing suite
fake shops fake names
'The greatest demand is really for two to three bedroom houses ... We need more houses in the area for people who cannot afford to buy a house and for whom renting and shared ownership is going to be a better proposition.' -- Sue Nichols, project manager, Pavilion Housing Association
Within the next few days, the last few remaining tenants at Firgrove Court will be kicked out of their homes. To add insult to injury, the hoardings surrounding their soon to be demolished homes are plastered with gaudy pictures of yuppie flats for sale.
A few weeks back, garages at Firgrove Court were demolished to make way for a marketing suite for the yuppie flats. Last week, brown dead turf has was laid in front of the marketing suite.
The yuppie flats, if ever built, will sit atop a superstore in Farnborough town centre. Ideal for yuppies, tumble out of bed, a few minutes walk to Farnborough Station, 30 minutes by fast train to Waterloo Station in London. Firgrove Court is likewise equally ideal for squatters too! And has plenty of land for communal gardens and growing food.
Even closer to the station, and currently under construction, an even larger block of yuppie flats. Further down the road, adjacent to Farnborough Airport, yet more yuppie flats are being built. The main difference between these flats and the ones for sale by St Modwen is that they are under construction, not a figment of imagination.
In Farnborough, as with neighbouring Aldershot, there is an acute shortage of 2- 3-bedroom houses with gardens. Worse still, is the shortage of quality, well-managed social housing.
The centre of Aldershot has been turned into a yuppie ghetto. Yet more yuppie flats were being planned between Aldershot town centre and an edge-of-town Tesco, part of a leisure, retail complex called Westgate, which has now collapsed amidst political bickering and recrimination.
The centre of Farnborough, like nearby Aldershot, is a ghost town, boarded-up shops, a derelict demolition site. Last summer half the town centre was demolished. In the first six months of this year many more shops have closed down, pulled out or declared their intention to do so.
A decade ago, St Modwen (via a Kuwaiti-financed front-company KPI) bought Farnborough town centre. They claim to be the UK's leading regeneration specialists. They have spent the last ten years laying waste to Farnborough town centre. Farnborough is now a ghost town.
The large demolition site may one day, if St Modwen are to be believed, be turned into a superstore facing out of the town centre. The residents of Firgrove Court are being kicked out of their homes to make way for a car park for the superstore. Above the superstore will be the yuppie flats.
Social housing is being destroyed, 28 maisonettes around a grassy area, at a time when there is a growing demand for social housing. For many, social housing is the only option if they want a roof over their heads.
Normally a development of this scale has to include an element of social housing. This requirement was waived by the Rotten Borough of Rushmoor to help maintain the St Modwen profit margin.
The glossy pictures on the hoardings show the yuppie flats overlooking what appears to be wooded parkland. They will actually overlook Farnborough town centre. More specifically they will overlook the back yard of a superstore with 24-hour operation, 24-hour lorry deliveries. When planning consent was granted, concern was raised by members of the planning committee regarding the nuisance residents of the flats will be caused by the 24-hour operation of the superstore, and reference was made to the problems the nearby Asda superstore has caused to town centre residents.
Not exactly salubrious surroundings. A run-down town centre, junk food outlets, charity shops and boarded-up shops. Decent places to eat, theatres, green areas, riverside walks, stunning views? Er, no.
Cinema? Ah, interesting question.
The word on the council grapevine is that there is no cinema. Many, apart from the gullible hacks on the local rag, would question whether there ever was a cinema. Around 2000, within two years of St Modwen acquiring Farnborough town centre, planning consent was granted for a cinema/bar complex. Not wishing to upset the locals, the bar aspect is always played down. A cinema was the carrot St Modwen dangled before the council. There is no cinema. Planning consent expires after five years.
Any prospective buyer would be well advised to first talk to the occupants of the flats that overlook the back of the Asda superstore and ask them how their lives were made hell by Asda nighttime deliveries. When one resident went over to Asda to complain he was served a Harassment Order by PC Plod.
Prospective buyers would also be well advised advised to talk to the residents of Cell Block H (complete with prison exercise yard), the ugly block of flats St Modwen had built at the opposite end of the town centre on the old Post Office site. Ask of the many problems experienced by residents when they first moved in. Problems that included being flooded, when shower units emptied into flats below, due to the failure to plumb them in! Marketing for these flats showed them located in landscaped grounds. The only patch of greenery was tarmacked over for parking. Balconies look straight into extraction fans of the Pizza Hut only a few feet away. Other views are of the back yard of an Asda superstore and a derelict town centre, boarded-up shops, tattoo parlour, fish n chip shop and junk food outlets. The retail units below the flats are regularly flooded during heavy rain (as are other new retail units built by St Modwen). Billed as the retail gateway to the revamped town centre, the units were eventually let to two charity shops, a junk food outlet and a hardware store, all forced by St Modwen to relocate from other parts of the town centre.
Wandering around the town centre after a bout of heavy rain, be warned, it floods as the drains do not work.
Sandwiched between the yuppie flats and the superstore is a floor with planning permission for leisure. Bars, nightclub, bingo?
The asking price for the yuppie flats: 1-bedroom £170,00, 2-bedroom £210,000!
For these prices it is possible to buy a house in Farnborough, and prices are falling.
St Modwen apparently has not noticed that we are heading towards a recession, that house prices are falling, that we are in the midst of a banking crisis and credit squeeze, that new mortgages are at a record low and very expensive, assuming you get get one at all and the Bank of England has said it will get worse, that property companies and major builders are going to the wall.
Are there any buyers out their stupid enough to buy into flats that do not exist, whose price will have halved by 2010? Assuming they are even built by 2010! Last year, St Modwen were claiming the project would be complete by summer 2008 (they had previously been claiming an earlier date). Their hoardings in the town centre say summer 2009. Last week St Modwen admitted it was now 2010.
Prospective buyers should take a close look at the hoardings in the town centre. They show lots of new shops. Look a little closer and it will be seen to be fake shops with fake names, a clear case of 'passing off', using another's well known brand name to enhance one's own piss-poor reputation by association.
Prospective buyers are being asked to make a speculative purchase on a hole in the ground, and being asked to pay over the odds for the privilege.
To put the asking prices in context. In Manchester, yuppie flats bought a year ago at £210,000 failed to make the reserve of £100,000 at auction. In Nottingham, yuppie flats that four years ago were selling for £170,000 are now fetching £70,000.
St Modwen claim they are not affected by the collapse in the property market!
Property companies are laying off staff, seeing their share price collapse. The reason Westgate has collapsed in Aldershot is because there is no longer a market for yuppie flats.
The flats even have a bloody stupid name Centrus at The Meads.
The Meads do not exist either, other than as artist's impressions on gaudy hoardings. Their website has for months shown 'under construction'. Whether that means the site itself or the website no one is sure as it could equally apply to both.
St Modwen are hoping to ensnare sufficient numbers of gullible yuppies to bail out and bankroll their disastrous redevelopment of Farnborough town centre.
Yuppie flats, a mix of retail and leisure, are the unwanted model St Modwen are trying to impose on several locations. Wherever they operate they meet strong local opposition.
At Upton Park in London, where they are trying to destroy the popular Queen's Market, they are known as the Developers from Hell and 12,000 people have signed a petition to say they are not wanted. Last month in Walthamstow saw a big demonstration against St Modwen. In Bognor Regis, where a tower block would ruin the seafront, local people in a referendum have overwhelmingly said no to St Modwen. At Swindon when St Modwen tried to trash a community woodland they were driven out of town. St Modwen are currently facing a legal challenge and strong local opposition for trying to impose an unwanted eco-town.
St Modwen claim that Farnborough is their largest project in the UK. If that be the case, then Farnborough should serve as a stark warning to everywhere else threatened by the St Modwen bulldozer and wrecking ball.
Do we laugh or cry? Midlands Insider magazine has listed Anthony Glossop, Chairman of St Modwen Properties plc, at 16th place in their Power 100, a list of the 100 most influential people in the region. Home Secretary Jacqui Smith is placed beneath him at 17th. They say money talks!
Reference and background
Fight The Height Walthamstow, St Modwen set to invade East London - 18 storey tower block planned, Indymedia UK, 30 April 2008
Housebuilder may axe 1,000 jobs, BBC news on-line, 3 July 2008
Mortgage squeeze 'will continue', BBC news on-line, 3 July 2008
Keith Parkins, Redevelopment of Farnborough town centre, Indymedia UK, 9 April 2008
Keith Parkins, Pavilion asbestos scandal, Indymedia UK, 14 April 2008
Keith Parkins, Farnborough town centre in its final death throes, Indymedia UK, 21 April 2008
Keith Parkins, Starbucks v cowboy developers, Indymedia UK, 24 April 2008
Keith Parkins, Starbucks v cowboy developers, Indymedia UK, 25 April 2008
Keith Parkins, Farnborough town centre - unsecured demolition site, Indymedia UK, 28 April 2008
Keith Parkins, More shops to close in Farnborough town centre, Indymedia UK, 23 June 2008
Keith Parkins, Firgrove Court demolition to begin soon, Indymedia UK, 23 June 2008
Keith Parkins, Aldershot Westgate Scandal, Indymedia UK, 26 June 2008
Keith Parkins, Aldershot ghost town, Indymedia UK, 30 June 2008
Keith Parkins, Farnborough town centre crisis worsens, Indymedia UK, 3 July 2008
Persimmon makes 1,100 UK job cuts, BBC News on-line, 8 July 2008
Recession 'looming' for UK firms, BBC News on-line, 8 July 2008
Supply of mortgages 'remains low', BBC News on-line, 8 July 2008
Taylor Wimpey woes hammer shares, BBC news on-line, 2 July 2008