Construction began a year ago and Pembury Circus swiftly became real enough to be recognised by Transport for London. Since last autumn passing buses have been speaking its name as a destination, a landmark, a place. The establishment of this new housing development is a small case study in how redevelopment can redefine a neighbourhood. The Circus replaces a part of the Pembury estate. Who will live in it?
Its 268 one, two and three-bedroom dwellings will include some designated for people aged over-55 and the council is pleased that 119 of them are desingated "affordable" - a very high percentage for London these days. However, the Circus - whose name appears loosely inspired by the adjacent roundabout - is not isolated from the wider phenomenon of soaring Hackney property prices or the increasing slipperiness of the term "affordable".
Developer Bellway says on its website that prices are to be confirmed, but one of its one-bedroom apartments is already being advertised elsewhere for £330,000 - hefty, but pretty much the going rate around here lately. The affordable element, supplied by Peabody, comprises 40 units for shared ownership, 58 "affordable rent" homes, which will be available at between 55% and 75% of local market rents, and just 21 for the cheaper social rent.
Pembury estate tenants who have more rooms than they need will be able to bid to move into the new homes. The aim is to free up larger properties on the estate for overcrowded households. The development will also include commercial premises and community space.
There are various ways of looking at Pembury Circus. A negative view might that this part of the "regeneration" of the Pembury Estate is the latest example of developers and the council surrendering precious territory to private interests and (primarily) affluent incomers to no great benefit for the exisitng community. A more positive one would be that a socially-virtuous "mixed community" is to be established, bringing with it young, motivated people who will bring new spending power and energy to the area.
And a realistic one? Perhaps it's a mixture of both of the above - and about as good an "affordable" deal as you're likely to get in this city just now.