The picture that reveals the madness of the London housing market

A “1 bedroom studio” in Highgate Village turns out to be little more than a garage with a shower in it.

It’s well-known that the London property market has long been completely absurd, but the Highgate branch of estate agents Winkworth have now furnished us with fresh proof of its utter insanity.

They are offering a “1 bedroom studio” in Highgate Village for £250,000 (or £300 a week to rent).

Steep, yes, but sadly that's not out of the ordinary for London. That is, until you look at the picture of the flat:

It’s a garage behind another property, in which a small corner has been partitioned off to house a shower and a toilet:

The good news, though, is that there’s space to park your sports car right by the extremely wide door.

UPDATE:

According to this Evening Standard story from April 2012, there's some unusual restrictions on the property - the "new owner will only be able to spend a couple of nights a week there due to a clause in its lease." From the current Winkworth listing, it's pretty clear that it's intended as residential (it's listed as a "1 bedroom studio", after all, and has a shower installed), although the description lower down mentions that it is "a freehold, self-contained commercial unit with office use".

(H/t @MattHolehouse)

Caroline Crampton is assistant editor of the New Statesman. She writes a weekly podcast column.

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Who will win the Copeland by-election?

Labour face a tricky task in holding onto the seat. 

What’s the Copeland by-election about? That’s the question that will decide who wins it.

The Conservatives want it to be about the nuclear industry, which is the seat’s biggest employer, and Jeremy Corbyn’s long history of opposition to nuclear power.

Labour want it to be about the difficulties of the NHS in Cumbria in general and the future of West Cumberland Hospital in particular.

Who’s winning? Neither party is confident of victory but both sides think it will be close. That Theresa May has visited is a sign of the confidence in Conservative headquarters that, win or lose, Labour will not increase its majority from the six-point lead it held over the Conservatives in May 2015. (It’s always more instructive to talk about vote share rather than raw numbers, in by-elections in particular.)

But her visit may have been counterproductive. Yes, she is the most popular politician in Britain according to all the polls, but in visiting she has added fuel to the fire of Labour’s message that the Conservatives are keeping an anxious eye on the outcome.

Labour strategists feared that “the oxygen” would come out of the campaign if May used her visit to offer a guarantee about West Cumberland Hospital. Instead, she refused to answer, merely hyping up the issue further.

The party is nervous that opposition to Corbyn is going to supress turnout among their voters, but on the Conservative side, there is considerable irritation that May’s visit has made their task harder, too.

Voters know the difference between a by-election and a general election and my hunch is that people will get they can have a free hit on the health question without risking the future of the nuclear factory. That Corbyn has U-Turned on nuclear power only helps.

I said last week that if I knew what the local paper would look like between now and then I would be able to call the outcome. Today the West Cumbria News & Star leads with Downing Street’s refusal to answer questions about West Cumberland Hospital. All the signs favour Labour. 

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to British politics.