‘I’m very fortunate’: meet the Londoner who lives among billionaires for £200 a week

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Every clip Kwame Agyekum’s parent comes to sojourn him astatine his level she asks him: “You’re definite this is truly your spot and not a luxury hotel?”

“When she archetypal came implicit she was like: ‘This does not consciousness similar someone’s house. Are you definite it’s not a hotel?”’ Agyekum, 34, said. “I tin spot wherefore she thought that with the concierge and the wide ambience.”

Agyekum’s level is wrong a caller luxury improvement “in the shadiness of Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament” successful cardinal London. Apartments wrong the Millbank Quarter task are being marketed astatine overseas billionaires for arsenic overmuch arsenic £35m.

The cheapest one-bedroom flats successful the improvement – which is crossed the thoroughfare from the Houses of Parliament and has views of the Thames – are on merchantability for £1.75m.

Studio apartments (estate agents’ caller word for bedsits) that are importantly smaller than Agyekum’s one-bedroom level are advertised to rent for much than £3,600 a month.

Agyekum’s rent is £862.42 a month. That’s due to the fact that his level is 1 of 13 “affordable homes” that Westminster metropolis assembly required the developer, Berkeley Group, to supply for moving Londoners nether a section 106 agreement arsenic information of granting the readying application. There are astir 200 apartments successful full astatine the scheme.

Kwame Agyekum successful  his flat
Kwame Agyekum successful his flat, which costs £862.42 a month. Photograph: Martin Godwin/The Guardian

Section 106 agreements, which are designed to unit spot developers to supply much affordable lodging and different benefits for section communities, person proved highly arguable arsenic developers person avoided gathering the commitments claiming that doing truthful would marque the projects financially inviable. Recent examples include:

While the Millbank Quarter improvement contains 13 affordable homes, the assembly readying committee had said the developer should see 105 affordable units oregon a £32m outgo successful lieu.

“The applicant made a viability statement for a reduced affordable lodging publication and this was assessed connected behalf of the metropolis assembly by an autarkic viability consultant,” the assembly said. “The consultant’s archetypal decision was that the strategy could enactment £7.04m successful lieu of affordable lodging connected tract but further appraisal by the advisor resulted successful the decision that the strategy could enactment the proviso of 9 intermediate units connected tract and a outgo successful lieu of affordable lodging of £3.52m.” When the strategy was expanded the fig of affordable units roseate to 13.

A spokesperson for the council, which was antecedently Conservative-controlled but is present Labour, said: “The assembly changed power successful May 2022 and this exertion was granted nether the erstwhile administration. The readying committee astatine that clip accepted the developer’s viability appraisal and its decision that the request for on-site affordable lodging could not beryllium delivered and truthful received a cash-in-lieu payment.

“Looking forward, we judge it’s captious to supply affordable homes successful cardinal London for the cardinal workers that bash the captious jobs that marque our metropolis a success. We person a beardown committedness to ensuring caller developments comply with the council’s established readying policies.”

A spokesperson for Berkeley Group said: “The scope of the s106 was determined by the assembly pursuing elaborate negotiations dating backmost to 2013. The assembly stipulated the premix of affordable homes connected site, on with a multimillion-pound donation to a section stateless shelter.”

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Kwame Agyekum
Kwame Agyekum says helium is ‘very, very, precise fortunate’. Photograph: Martin Godwin/The Guardian

Agyekum, who earns £34,500 a twelvemonth arsenic a concern absorption serviceman for the House of Commons, said that without the proviso of affordable lodging determination was “no mode astatine all” helium would beryllium capable to spend to unrecorded successful cardinal London. “The rent connected the unfastened marketplace astir present would beryllium mode much than each my wage a month,” helium added.

Agyekum, who grew up successful Hammersmith, said. “I’m very, very, precise fortunate to not lone person an affordable rent scheme, but successful specified an unthinkable determination and successful specified an unthinkable building. So I yeah, I couldn’t beryllium much grateful.”

His level is 1 of 13 “intermediate affordable housing” one- to three-bedroom units wrong the improvement of erstwhile bureau buildings including the Grade-II listed erstwhile office of the chemicals institution ICI. The flats, which are owned by affordable lodging foundation Dolphin Living, are disposable to those who unrecorded oregon enactment successful the borough of Westminster and gain incomes from £31,000 to £90,000.

The Astor
The £35m Astor is 1 5 ultra-luxury penthouses astatine 9 Millbank. Photograph: Berkeley Group

Olivia Harris, the main enforcement of Dolphin Living, said: “We judge that much needs to beryllium done to enactment the transportation of affordable lodging for workers connected humble incomes, peculiarly arsenic we look to the city’s betterment post-pandemic and however we pull and clasp cardinal workers successful cardinal London.”

“Over the past 2 years galore cardinal workers had to instrumentality lengthy commutes into the metropolis portion truthful galore homes successful the centre of superior sat empty. The pandemic has made america beryllium backmost and reconsider what we request from lodging successful London; it’s glaringly evident that we request much affordable lodging for cardinal workers adjacent to their places of work.”

While each the affordable flats successful this improvement are occupied, those who unrecorded oregon enactment successful Westminster tin use for different affordable lodging schemes via Homes for Westminster, a assembly work to assistance supply homes for radical wrong the borough.

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