Hidden homes

Wandsworth Council celebrates creating hundreds of properties under its hidden homes initiative.

Wandsworth Council's housing department is at the forefront in creating new homes through its pioneering hidden homes initiative by transforming disused and problematic space on estates into good quality housing for rent and shared ownership.

Abbott House

We have delivered our 250th Hidden Home in the borough after a 15 month project at Abbott House, Balham. We have built six new homes for affordable rent as part of our innovative Hidden Homes programme. Five homes have been created by building a roof top extension to the existing block with an additional home being developed from the conversion of a disused storage room. In addition, the low-rise block, at Nightingale Lane, has benefitted from further improvements, including window renewal.

We have been able to deliver these properties with grant assistance from the Greater London Authority.

Rollo Development

The Rollo estate development in Battersea is our largest to date, with 38 family- sized properties. This brings the total number of hidden homes delivered in the borough to 238 since the council's innovative scheme was introduced ten years ago.

Sixty-five have been created in partnership with Notting Hill Housing Trust (NHHT), with the remaining 173 created from the council's own resources.

Sharing ideas

Since we completed our first hidden homes in 2003 there has been a steady stream of visitors to the town hall eager to find out how the programme works. 

By sharing a few of our affordable housing model we hope to encourage other councils to look at their own stock.

How the scheme works

The hidden homes initiative works by successfully transforming formerly empty or derelict areas such as old laundries, store sheds, garages, parking, space under existing residential blocks and boiler rooms and sometimes crime prone into new homes.

Local community benefits

It provides an opportunity to develop new facilities in some communities, such as playgrounds, improved parking and environmental improvements, whilst reducing maintenance and security costs in the process.

Type and size of housing created

Properties range from one-bedroom studio apartments, specially-adapted apartments for disabled people and/or older people through to family-sized homes and apartments for people with supported needs.

Most properties have been made available for rental. However, ten properties at the Cambalt Development in Putney were released for sale through the shared ownership initiative.

The team and partners

The housing department has utilised in-house skills across the council, worked with partners NHHT and across professional boundaries to address structural and technical problems to create homes we know have merit.

 The hidden homes initiative has helped

  • deliver homes that residents are proud of
  • increase the supply of affordable housing for rent and for sale
  • tackle the challenge of difficult spaces making the best use of the land we own
  • reduce spending on anti-social behaviour and security which can be re-invested in the housing stock
  • generate income
  • attract external public and private finance
  • create environments that no longer pose problems but are used and valued public spaces
  • improve the environment and community safety for local residents in line with corporate objectives.

More innovative design  

Traditionally, most hidden homes have been built at the ground and lower ground level. But the council's approach to delivering affordable housing has become more inventive than ever in its quest to provide new homes for local people. For example, apartments have been created in an elevated position to the rear of a block, atop of roofs and as lateral extensions.