Jess McCabe

I am a journalist and these are some of the stories I've been working on lately

Monthly Archives: June 2013

Earlier this year photographer Philip Wolmuth set about documenting the community living in the Euston area of London set to be affected by the HS2 railway. Jess McCabe meets some of the residents who fear for their futures

A passenger jumps on the train at London Euston. A mere 49 minutes later, they arrive in Birmingham. Such is the rapid future imagined by High Speed 2, the government’s plan to shave 35 minutes off the journey from the midlands to the capital, reinvigorate the economy and shrink the north-south divide.

The project is expected to cost the taxpayer £33 billion by the time the first trains zoom down the tracks in 2026. But for residents of Camden Council’s Regent’s Park estate, the price will be paid much sooner.

More than 300 homes are due to be demolished to make way for HS2. So far, no plans have been announced for where tenants will be rehoused. Stan Passmore, 87, lives in Eskdale, one of the blocks on the estate scheduled for demolition on a date not yet known to tenants. ‘I’ve been here 50 years. Everybody knows one another [here],’ he says.

Many of Mr Passmore’s neighbours are scared they could be moved away from family, friends, schools and workplaces. ‘You can’t describe [how it feels]. You have to keep consoling people all the time,’ he says.

Read the rest here

For the last few weeks I’ve been working on our annual ranking of the top 50 housing associations, in terms of who is building the most, with my colleague Gene. It was a massive job, but quite revealing. Here’s the news story that came out of it.

If social landlords operated like a pizza delivery service – delivery on time or your pizza for free – they might have to give away a few homes this year.

This year Inside Housing’s annual ranking of the top 50 developing housing associations reveals that even those delivering the most new homes across England completed just 25,634 homes in the last financial year. This is down by a startling 25 per cent on this time last year, and less than last year’s top 50 expected to build.

But, as we dig into the details of what the top 50 are building, are there clues as to why completions have dropped? And can we believe assurances from the Homes and Communities Agency that the proverbial pizza delivery is in fact only around the corner?

Each year, Inside Housing surveys the biggest 100 housing associations in England, in order to rank the 50 housing associations that are building the most homes. We compile two rankings – those which completed the most homes in the last year, and those planning to build the most new homes next year.

As well as a ‘who’s who’ of the big builders and those that have the most homes in their pipeline it provides a window into broader industry trends. We find out exactly how many homes associations are constructing and what tenure they are, as well as surveying their plans for the future.

Last year’s top 50 completed 34,435 homes between 1 April 2011 and 31 March 2012. This year’s top 50 managed just 25,634. This number is 14 per cent lower than last year’s top 50 expected to deliver – they anticipated they would build just under 30,000 during 2012/13.

Read the whole thing here, and also see the ranking and data we collected.

One man’s plan to train troubled teens from a south London housing estate in beekeeping originally aimed to teach them about responsibility and community. But, as Jess McCabe finds out, Stockwell’s young people may need a bit more persuading before the idea flies

Police sergeant Jack Rowlands is a big presence in a small office, as he takes a break from his beat in November 2012 to chat in the headquarters of Community Trust Housing, the social landlord which manages the massive Stockwell Park estate in Lambeth. An immediately likeable south Londoner given to impersonating accents, sergeant Rowlands is here because he’s had a big idea: train up young people of the estate, who he encounters on his beat, to become beekeepers.

‘I was walking around the estate and I saw this massive green area, and I just sort of thought, I’m sure we could do something around nature,’ he says describing his lightbulb moment during our first meeting.

Over the months that have followed, Inside Housing tracked the progress of the beekeeping project, which involves building two hives on an island in the middle of a pond, within the 1,400-home Stockwell Park estate in south London. Sergeant Rowlands’ plan is for rookie beekeepers to sell honey from their hives, generating enough cash to keep the project going.