Work with us
We have worked with Phoenix since 2006. They have offered an excellent alternative to securing long term void properties, which has also given us additional income.
What do we need? What do we offer?
(a) Short-life leases
We’re told short-life is over in London, but we’re not yet willing to give up. Phoenix has worked with short-term leasing for over 30 years. We have managed houses and flats with a ‘life’ of anything from six months to 10 years. We will pay you a guaranteed rental income on a monthly basis, maintain the property to a good standard, and return it when you need it. Phoenix has managed short-life leases on property owned by Poplar HARCA, Peabody Trust, Sanctuary Housing Association, Newlon Housing Association, Bethnal Green and Victoria Park Housing Association, and the London boroughs of Hackney and Tower Hamlets. We would be happy to work on this basis with private landlords as well.
(b) That awkward space
Land in London is too expensive – in our core areas, sites sell regularly now for £1 million. In Phoenix, we have the capacity and vigour to build our own housing, but can only do so if (somehow) land is donated. You might think that this is pure fantasy. But we were wondering about small pockets of awkward space in commercial developments. Our question to architects is: Would you draw us in to client proposals? We’re happy to work with your designs and help promote your practice. We’ll pay for construction costs. We simply need the service infrastructure putting in. Once upon a time Capability Brown worked a folly or hermit’s lodge into the staging of landscape. Architects are still specialist purveyors of the sublime. To us, selfbuild is part of the postmodern picturesque.
For years Phoenix has taken on a number of our long term void properties on our estates which have been earmarked for regeneration/redevelopment. There have been no problems with handing back properties when we required them and there have been no major issues with anti-social behaviour between our residents and the residents of Phoenix.
(c) Showcase land bank
This is a call out to government institutions and volume housebuilders. We know you hold the land and that it’s a political embarrassment. Phoenix has many ideas for low-cost temporary structures that we’d like to test out for living in. Could we use your land to build a showcase? We’d like at least a five-year lease on the site to justify the effort and expenditure. We offer great publicity for your organisation and additional security for the site. Again there is the question of service infrastructure – we’re open to suggestions. If you have a site in mind, please call Colin, our housing manager, to discuss.
A few thoughts on location
Phoenix operates in east London, and we are looking for vacant spaces, leftover industrial sites, garages, houses and flats, anywhere east from the City to Barking and Dagenham, north to Enfield, and south to Lewisham or Bromley. Units can be isolated or in a cluster.
Why work with Phoenix?
Phoenix is the last of London’s innovative housing co-operatives. We grew out of the milieu of avant-garde squatting of the 1970s and 1980s – the creative imaginary that thrived during the capital’s recession years – and we retain that ethos of experimental individualism combined with a commitment to self-management. Phoenix is not a bureaucratic landlord or profit-seeking enterprise. Our self-management process stretches constantly to explore interesting scenarios and opportunities where none existed before.
We have a very good working relationship with Phoenix Community Housing Co-operative. I would have no hesitation in recommending Phoenix Community Housing Co-operative as a short-life housing provider for your estates.
With the expansion of financialisation and the decimation of creative and freelance incomes in London, our members have found it harder to get space to live. Our incomes might be too precarious to fund private sector rents – and to be honest, we prefer our own furniture – but what we do for a living is often vital for many economic sectors, as well as the quality of life of London’s more affluent residents. We work as artists, advertising film-makers, editors, complementary health practitioners, yoga and dance teachers, web designers, upholsterers, builders, musicians, disability support practitioners, critics, and poets. We staff your libraries, clean your offices, and keep government ministries running smoothly. As single people we have no statutory housing rights – you can’t write us in as Section 106 recipients – and we are often paid a pittance, yet our labour is a significant affective resource for the London economy. We know we create value in this city. We can create value for you too.