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.


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 web editor of the New Statesman.

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Is anyone prepared to solve the NHS funding crisis?

As long as the political taboo on raising taxes endures, the service will be in financial peril. 

It has long been clear that the NHS is in financial ill-health. But today's figures, conveniently delayed until after the Conservative conference, are still stunningly bad. The service ran a deficit of £930m between April and June (greater than the £820m recorded for the whole of the 2014/15 financial year) and is on course for a shortfall of at least £2bn this year - its worst position for a generation. 

Though often described as having been shielded from austerity, owing to its ring-fenced budget, the NHS is enduring the toughest spending settlement in its history. Since 1950, health spending has grown at an average annual rate of 4 per cent, but over the last parliament it rose by just 0.5 per cent. An ageing population, rising treatment costs and the social care crisis all mean that the NHS has to run merely to stand still. The Tories have pledged to provide £10bn more for the service but this still leaves £20bn of efficiency savings required. 

Speculation is now turning to whether George Osborne will provide an emergency injection of funds in the Autumn Statement on 25 November. But the long-term question is whether anyone is prepared to offer a sustainable solution to the crisis. Health experts argue that only a rise in general taxation (income tax, VAT, national insurance), patient charges or a hypothecated "health tax" will secure the future of a universal, high-quality service. But the political taboo against increasing taxes on all but the richest means no politician has ventured into this territory. Shadow health secretary Heidi Alexander has today called for the government to "find money urgently to get through the coming winter months". But the bigger question is whether, under Jeremy Corbyn, Labour is prepared to go beyond sticking-plaster solutions. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.