This is not another article about the high cost of living in London, though it has great relevance to the silly prices of houses inside the M25. All of that is well documented elsewhere - we're far more eager to devote screenspace to sensible, affordable and frankly brilliant ways to get by in this city without compromising your cool.
Camelot Property Protection have been featured in today's Telegraph for their clever way of pleasing everybody. Building owners / developers want their properties to be protected and secure until redevelopment work can begin; there are many keyworkers and young professionals priced out of the London market who need somewhere affordable to live. In a fit of genius, the two have been brought together to create the Camelot Property Protection guardian scheme. We love it. It's community building, housing crisis and commercial protection all rolled into one, in a way that years of London Government 'blue sky' thinking couldn't manage.
'Guardians' apply to be placed in empty commercial or business properties awaiting development. The aim is to have these buildings occupied and in constant use which deters vandals and squatters. These guardians also keep these buildings running and are able to report any changes or problems before development work starts in earnest. In return, The Guardians - often keyworkers needing affordable accommodation close to their place of work, or flexible young professionals unable to get any toehold on the property market - get the run of the building, an instantly interesting social life and all the creature comforts of domesticity that can feasibly fit into an office block about to be refurbished.
It sounds almost too good to be true: the building owners pay less for security (patrols, dogs, alarm systems) and have on-going maintenance updates from the guardians. The guardians pay as little as £65 per week for a room - and these rooms vary wildly from property to property. Depending on the size of the building, guardians could share the communal, temporary kitchens and bathrooms provided by Camelot with lots of other guardians; though kitchens and bathrooms are shared (because how many office blocks in Camden come equipped with a three-piece bathroom suite in the basement?), each guardian has a lockable private room. There is a thorough application process for anyone who wants to be a guardian and these things need to be taken into consideration: guardians need to have been in work for a year, doesn't mind sharing space with X number of 'flatmates', doesn't mind unconventional living arrangements, can move at short notice and won't forget that the arrangement is temporary and for the mutual benefit of everyone involved.
Everyone in London has got stuck at some point looking for somewhere to live. Who hasn't stood on a busy street, looking up at boarded windows and abandoned office blocks, thinking 'That place is empty, I could live there...'? Camelot's joined-up thinking clearly started there. The corner office near the coffee point has never seemed more desirable.
Image Canary Wharf by dearbarbie from the Londonist Flickr pool.