A2Dominion Housing Group Ltd is a Housing Association that builds private developments for the property market via it's FABRICA by A2Dominion arm. As an exempt charity registered under the Co-operative & Community Benefit Societies Act 2014, A2Dominion pays no tax as part of its operations.
The quality of A2Dominion's social and 'affordable' housing is often dubious and has resulted in many disgruntled tenants, as shown by this petition:
We the people whom are managed by A2Dominion housing association are fed up to the hind teeth with the total lack of customer care and management from A2Dominion. We want people who are being dealt a bad life and whose lives are being destroyed by this company to sign this petition and back us so we can bring this severely mismanaged company to heel. Ultimately we want A2Dominion brought under a national inquiry into their conduct.
A2Dominion 'affordable' single-aspect housing
One 'affordable' housing block, Woods House, built and managed by A2Dominion in Victoria, a building erected in the shadow of a much plusher private block boasting units that feature balconies — balconies that weren't included for tenants of Woods House in case they were used for 'unsightly storage' purposes – are all what is referred to as "single aspect". "Single aspect" is a design 'feature' which, according to the Mayor of London's Interim London Housing Design Guide [PDF], is the least preferred option for use in London builds.
In single aspect dwellings with more than two bedrooms, it is difficult to achieve adequate ventilation and daylight to all rooms in an efficient plan layout which avoids long internal corridors. Even where this is possible, the outlook will lack variety and many ancillary spaces will be internal.
Consequently, Woods House with its mean and inhumane windows suffers from endless problems with overshadowing, extreme, perpetual noise from screeching trains and significant overheating that results in uncomfortable living conditions that jeopardises residents' health and safety.
As a 'solution' to the innate design flaws of Woods House, A2Dominion issued a leaflet to residents complaining of temperatures up to a searing 37°C with suggestions on how to cool their flats down. The farcical document suggests, "Avoid cooking with your oven and hob during the day as these will add heat to the high temperatures encountered in these hours. As an alternative, microwaves produce far less waste heat."
All this comes with a warning over what A2Dominion considers 'affordable' with spiralling service charges:
“MP for Ealing, Acton and Shepherds Bush, Andy Slaughter, commented in the local press:
"I have always had concerns about the Bromyard house development and their supposedly affordable housing policy. The housing association deliberately seems to be dressing something up as 'affordable' which it isn't and people who are desperate to find homes think these are affordable. People are struggling financially and service charges need to be renegotiated; housing associations have an obligation to tenants and leaseholders for those on moderate means."
Further problems with A2Dominion developments and the services they are supposed to provide were highlighted by Feltham and Heston MP Seema Malhotra who said:
"I think A2Dominion has a long way to go to build proper confidence and actually see communication being more effective with MPs and with the community. Its representatives said they would look at how to achieve that. From what the other MPs were saying, it needs to do better when it comes to delivering on its commitments. We've had a lot of negative feedback from people living within A2Dominion properties. The issues raised within my constituency have been about the speed of tackling neighbourhood issues and problems with the quality of the properties."
Affordable Housing, Affordable Rents?
A2Dominion's 'affordable housing' rents (which don't include their spiralling service charges), according to their own literature (PDF), are set at between 65%-80% of 'average market rents'. Local West Hampstead estate agents' figures list the average market rents in West Hampstead as follows:
Average Rental Prices in West Hampstead by Number of BedroomsEven at the lower 65% end of the scale (again, not including service charges) the cost of a one-bedroom flat would be around £240pw, increasing to nearly £300pw at the 80% rate. A small family needing two bedrooms could expect to pay around £290pw at 65%, rising to £360pw at 80%. Three bedrooms at 65% will mean having to find £450pw through to a whacking £560pw at the 80% rate (again, this doesn't include A2 Dominion's extortionate service charges or council tax).
These figures are at today's prices. When the West Hampstead Square, Iverson Road and Liddell Road developments are completed, average rents in West Hampstead will increase still further, with a knock-on effect on any 'affordable' housing scheme.
We have no idea what percentage of the 200 'units' proposed on the Travis Perkins site will actually be 'affordable' or offered at social rents as this is not specified on A2 Dominion's website. Camden Council has claimed that the development is expected to provide 50% social and affordable housing.
For A2 Dominion any percentage increase in the affordable ratio is just met with an increase in the number of private properties it will build, hence the over-intensive mass proposal of 200 units on a 1.6 acre site. For comparison purposes, Ballymore’s 7 towers on 2.5 acres of former railway land will provide just 198 housing units.
What we do know is that any affordable housing, according to a reply from A2 Dominion's PR firm Instinctif, will be concentrated in the blocks to the front facing West End Lane, preserving the nice 'new green space' for those who can afford the £500,000 plus that A2 Dominion price their London one-bedroom flats at or just short of £1,000,000 for two bedrooms.
Is West Hampstead really short of properties at these prices or does it instead urgently require homes that all ordinary working people so desperately need? Aren't we really just witnessing more and more glass and steel erections which are stealing and selling our skyline to wealthy investors and, in the process, destroying the area and its welcoming and diverse community?
As Tom Murtha, a former housing association chief executive, recently wrote in an excellent article on what housing associations have become when compared to their original goals and values:
“It seems to me a strange logic that increases rents to levels that many people cannot afford to finance the building of new homes that are also unaffordable. Is this the way to solve the housing crises? The government claim its affordable homes programme is a success and it was justified in cutting current and future investment in housing. It can only do this because housing association have collaborated in a programme that has increased rents in some areas to levels that many ordinary working people can no longer afford. This is not my definition of success.”