'Enormous step forward' as BTBS affordable housing opens for applications

'Enormous step forward' as BTBS affordable housing opens for applications

The Book Trade Charity (BTBS) has completed its Whetstone affordable housing development in “an enormous step forward” for the organisation.

Applications for the range of studio apartments, one-bed flats and two-bed flats in north London are now open, particularly for young people wishing to enter the industry as new entrants, apprentices, on long-term internships, or currently in their first roles.

The development, designed to help with a lack of affordable housing in the capital, is based on a pilot project in 2016/17 which followed the merger of BTBS and Bookbinders Charitable Society and brought an additional 22 flats to the charity.

Ten of these were vacant, so BTBS initiated a £300,000 improvement scheme, upgrading six to offer affordable bedsit accommodation to young people, particularly from diverse backgrounds and those geographically distant from the south east.

The rapid take-up of this accommodation led the charity to invest a further £3m in developing the concept. In October 2019, two blocks of flats unsuitable for renovation were demolished, and completion of the 16-month development now provides an additional 17 units.

Those vacancies will now be let at rents around 40% cheaper than equivalent accommodation in the area. Funding came from charitable reserves, an ongoing fundraising campaign which amassed £365,000, and a bank loan facility.

Charity chairman David Hicks said: “The completion of this project is an enormous step forward for the Book Trade Charity, and I am delighted to see it completed before I retire at the end of March. Being able to offer affordable housing for young people, from a wide variety of backgrounds, to enable them to take up opportunities for employment and internships which might otherwise not be possible, fills us all with a great sense of pride and achievement. We are delighted to be able to offer support to the industry’s efforts to promote diversity and inclusivity.”

Rents, which include utilities, are £407 per month for bedsits, £585 for studio flats, £780 for unfurnished one-bed flats and £481 per person for unfurnished two-beds.

Application forms can be downloaded from the charity website. To discuss eligibility or for further details, phone 01923 263128.