Housing charity Shelter has released a tube map of rental affordability and it is the saddest thing

Oh, god. Image: Shelter.

If you’re planning on living in London any time soon, and you’re neither an investment banker nor someone who conveniently already owns a house there, then, odds are, you’re going to be renting a home.

Good luck with that, because you probably can’t afford it – or at least, not a home with enough space to swing the proverbial. Shelter, a housing charity that can always be relied upon to bring you sunshine, has – in a transparent bid to be featured on CityMetric – put together a tube map of rental affordability.

The map has abandoned the traditional fare zone structure, and introduced three new zones. The vast majority of the network falls into its new “Zone 1” (“Unaffordable”) which means that the average cost of a two-bed rental property will cost more than half the average take home pay of a two-wage household*.

In Zone 2 (“Difficult to afford”) that flat will cost between 35 per cent and 50 per cent of that average income. That covers a couple of dozen suburban stations to the north and west, and various bits of outer east London.

Click to expand, and weep.

To find truly affordable housing, however, you need to look to Shelter’s Zone 3, where you can get that two-bed rental property of your dreams for less than 35 per cent of the average household income. That, though, means moving to London’s easternmost borough Havering, at the far end of the District line; or to stretches of the Metropolitan or Central lines that are actually outside London altogether.

Oh, and just 15 of the network’s 270 stations fall into this zone.

On the one hand this map is a bit of a fudge. Not all of London is on the tube (indeed, many of its cheapest areas aren’t; that’s one of the main reasons they’re so cheap). What’s more, a two person household doesn’t actually need two bedrooms.

On the other hand, though... oh, god. Oh god. 

Anyway, at least it’s the weekend, so you get to spend the next two days in that cupboard under the stairs that currently serves as your bedroom, and which you’re frightened to show your mum. Enjoy.

My mum says if I get 10,000 likes on Facebook I can have a new Playstation so please like us.

*One person working full-time, one part-time. More of the technical stuff on Shelter’s website here.


Barnet council has decided a name for its new mainline station. Exciting!

Artist's impression of the new Brent Cross. Image: Hammerson.

I’ve ranted before about the horror of naming stations after the lines that they’re served by (screw you, City Thameslink). So, keeping things in perspective as ever, I’ve been quietly dreading the opening of the proposed new station in north London which has been going by the name of Brent Cross Thameslink.

I’ve been cheered, then, by the news that station wouldn’t be called that at all, but will instead go by the much better name Brent Cross West. It’s hardly the cancellation of Brexit, I’ll grant, but in 2017 I’ll take my relief wherever I can find it.

Some background on this. When the Brent Cross shopping centre opened besides the A406 North Circular Road in 1976, it was only the third large shopping mall to arrive in Britain, and the first in London. (The Elephant & Castle one was earlier, but smaller.) Four decades later, though, it’s decidedly titchy compared to newer, shinier malls such as those thrown up by Westfield – so for some years now, its owners, Hammerson, have wanted to extend the place.

That, through the vagaries of the planning process, got folded into a much bigger regeneration scheme, known as Brent Cross Cricklewood (because, basically, it extends that far). A new bigger shopping centre will be connected, via a green bridge over the A406, to another site to the south. There you’ll find a whole new town centre, 200 more shops, four parks, 4m square feet of offices space and 7,500 homes.

This is all obviously tremendously exciting, if you’re into shops and homes and offices and not into depressing, car-based industrial wastelands, which is what the area largely consists of at the moment.

The Brent Cross site. Image: Google.

One element of the new development is the new station, which’ll sit between Hendon and Cricklewood on the Thameslink route. New stations are almost as exciting as new shops/homes/offices, so on balance I'm pro.

What I’ve not been pro is the name. For a long time, the proposed station has been colloquially referred to as Brent Cross Thameslink, which annoys me for two reasons:

1) Route names make rubbish modifiers because what if the route name changes? And:

2) It’s confusing, because it’s nearly a mile from Brent Cross tube station. West Hampstead Thameslink (euch), by contrast, is right next to West Hampstead tube.

Various other names have been proposed for the station. In one newsletter, it was Brent Cross Parkway; on Wikipedia, it’s currently Brent Cross South, apparently through confusion about the name of the new town centre development.

This week, though, Barnet council quietly confirmed it’d be Brent Cross West:

Whilst the marketing and branding of BXS needs to be developed further, all parties agree that the station name should build upon the Brent Cross identity already established. Given the station is located to the west of Brent Cross, it is considered that the station should be named Brent Cross West. Network Rail have confirmed that this name is acceptable for operational purposes. Consequently, the Committee is asked to approve that the new station be named Brent Cross West.

Where the new station will appear on the map, marked by a silly red arrow. Image: TfL.

That will introduce another irritating anomaly to the map, giving the impression that the existing Brent Cross station is somehow more central than the new one, when in fact they’re either side of the development. And so:

Consideration has also been given as to whether to pursue a name change for the tube station from “Brent Cross” to “Brent Cross East”.

Which would sort of make sense, wouldn’t it? But alas:

However owing to the very high cost of changing maps and signage London-wide this is not currently being pursued.

This is probably for the best. Only a handful of tube stations have been renamed since 1950: the last was Shepherd’s Bush Market, which was until 2008 was simply Shepherd's Bush, despite being quite a long way from the Shepherd's Bush station on the Central line. That, to me, suggests that one of the two Bethnal Green stations might be a more plausible candidate for an early rename.

At any rate: it seems unlikely that TfL will be renaming its Brent Cross station to encourage more people to use the new national rail one any time soon. But at least it won’t be Brent Cross Thameslink.

Jonn Elledge is the editor of CityMetric. He is on Twitter as @jonnelledge and also has a Facebook page now for some reason. 

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