IKEA assembles London village

Thursday, April 19, 2012. Ivan Radford @themovechannel

IKEA has already entered the real estate market with its flatpack US homes, but now the company is assembling something much bigger: a town. Strand East, near London's Olympic Park, will house 6,000 people in an effort to provide affordable accommodation. But bargain-hunting Brits still have their sights set overseas, as research reveals 25% of buyers believe it is cheaper to own a property abroad than in the UK.

IKEA town built in London

Photo credit: TheGlobeandMail.com

Not content with merely selling flatpack furniture, IKEA has already entered the real estate market with its flatpack houses, but now, the Swedish company are building something on a much bigger scale: an entire town. With not an IKEA store in sight.

Strand East, as the village is called, is already under construction and will be built on a plot next to the 2012 Olympic Park. The community will house 6,000 people on a 27-acre patch of land that brings Stockholm-style town-planning to London.

No cars will be allowed in the area, except for buses and emergency services, while the range of apartments, shops, offices and homes will be targeted at low-income residents with affordable rents.

The project broke ground in London last week, reports Architizer, in response to growing concerns from developers who are "[trying] to appeal to consumers who have less money [and] know more about sustainability."

The project will bring Stockholm-style town-planning to the UK capital


The news follows sky-scraping price predictions for The Shard, still under construction on the opposite side of the River Thames. The Shard, set to become the tallest building in Europe, will have equally lofty price tags, with apartments expected to fetch "between £30 million and £50 million each", according to Assetz, when they are put up for sale in the summer.

Compared to The Shard's high-flying homes, Londoners may welcome the option to migrate to a cheap and colourful village assembled by IKEA. Others, however, will have their sights set firmly overseas, with 25 per cent of buyers believing that it is cheaper to own a property abroad than in the UK.

Indeed, the ongoing sovereign debt crisis is doing little to deter ambitious home buyers as Spain and France remain the firm favorites for those seeking to buy a place in the sun, according to new research from HiFX.

The currency specialists revealed this week that Brits are as keen as ever to buy property in both France and Spain, despite the European turmoil.

France topped the list, with over a third of buyers looking to own a property directly across the Channel. Mark Bodega, Director at HiFX said: "France remains a ‘safe bet' for Brits. It goes without saying that the sun and lifestyle are a big pull but buyers are now also able to get better value for their money and take advantage of the weakening euro."

Nearby Spain is also continuing to lure home buyers, despite the country's "precarious position", with prices almost 30 per cent cheaper than in 2007.

Bodega added:  "The recent gains made by the Pound against the Euro can be felt throughout Europe but Spain and Portugal have also seen costs and prices fall for a variety of goods and commodities unlike other parts of the Eurozone, notably Italy.  We advise buyers looking to pick up a bargain in these countries to do their research and take on board the risk of buying in economically uncertain times before making any important decisions."

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