A Southwark-based brother and sister team have established their own estate agency in the borough, in order to encourage better housing practices and help tackle homelessness. Tessa Gooding (below, right) speaks exclusively to Southwark magazine about improving agency practices and meeting more housing needs within the current housing policy and funding framework. Natalie Vincent reports
Urban Patchwork was launched in spring 2018 by Toby and Tessa Gooding in Surrey Quays, after four years of planning. Both born and brought up in New Cross, the siblings were inspired by the idea of what an estate agent social enterprise could achieve to both improve agency practice and fund homeless housing and support.
At the time, Tessa Gooding was studying for an MA in Urban Planning, mainly focused on housing issues in London, as well as being involved in a neighbourhood planning group in New Cross and working for social enterprise Renaisi in Shoreditch. Meanwhile, Toby Gooding had been working as an estate agent for 10 years.
Pooling their expertise, experience and interests in housing, the brother-sister duo are passionate about implementing positive change by minimising fees for tenants ahead of the tenant fee ban next year and using the high demand for residential sales and lettings services to generate funds for homeless housing and support.
Tessa Gooding says: "There is no one-size fits-all solution, but our approach learns from what housing associations and local authorities are increasingly doing, due to them receiving less funds from central government for building and providing social and affordable housing.
"They are having to find ways to provide for market demand to create a reliable income stream so that they can continue to provide the social and affordable housing that is desperately needed. In their case, they are providing market housing for sale and rent, while we are providing residential sales and letting services for market housing and then using the majority of profits from that to meet more housing need through funding homeless housing and support."
Urban Patchwork is already helping fundraise for Deptford-based homelessness charity 999 Club, which provides advice and support for homeless people, equipping them with confidence to learn new skills, gain employment and find suitable housing. The firm is also matching funding donations made by its customers to the 999 Club, up to the value of £25 per donation/per person.
Gooding says: "One idea we’ve had is for profits to contribute to non-profit quality temporary accommodation in London to work against the large amount of public funds through housing benefits and significant additional local authority reserves being spent on temporary accommodation in what can be sub-standard living conditions charged at costly nightly rates and people being placed in accommodation outside of London away from their established social networks such as employment, schools and friendship groups."
Gooding has also been keeping a keen eye on developments in and around SE16: "As an increasingly popular area for people to live, it has seen a lot of new-build residential development in recent years, both around Canada Water station and east of Greenland Dock near the border of Deptford", says Gooding.
"It’s located between Canary Wharf and central London in zone two, yet due to the large amount of water in the area (the river and docks) much of it offers some peaceful respite from urban life, while also being well-connected,with the Jubilee and Overground tube lines and the river taxis from Greenland Pier and Nelson Dock Pier. There is also an ever-increasing number of things to do in the local area."
With significant change coming to this area of Southwark during the next three years through the implementation of the Canada Water masterplan, Urban Patchwork's focus on social responsibility and modern housing needs are primed to make a valuable contribution to its growth and development.
Visit https://www.urbanpatchwork.co.uk/ for more details
Southwark Council has bought Courage Yard on Shad Thames, near Tower Bridge, which it will redevelop to generate income for frontline services.