It's sad that the Grade II listed Bishops Wood almshouses are to be sold to developer after standing on their site next to the pond for centuries. Just how sad will ultimately depend on what is built in their place. The Hackney Citizen reported in February that any buyer would have to confrom to strict conservation rules, but the aesthetics of a new development will only be only one consideration. Another will be the affordability of the new homes. Will many, if any, be within the price range of people on average or low incomes?
I could be completely wrong, but the indications don't seem promising. The charity selling the site has said the proceeds would be used to build a new, large almshouse on a new site in Hackney. Assuming that site would have to be bought, it wouldn't come cheap, which means the Bishops Wood site wouldn't be sold cheap, which means the chances of the homes that might be built there being (reltively) cheap would be smaller.
Then there's the example of Pond House next door to reflect on. This has been handsomely refurbished by a housing association and a row of new townhouses built down the side in Mildenhall Road. But none of those dwellings are "affordable", how ever that increasingly slippery term is defined. The market rate asking prices underlined the staggeringly cost of property round here these days - £415,000 just for a one bedroom flat.
The housing association will no doubt use the profits in a comparable way to the almshouses charity, by investing it in new, sub-market accommodation somewhere more viable. But it all goes to show how this part of Clapton is beginning to turn into what it wasn't until very recently - what developers, speculators and estate agents call "a high value area".