Concerns are growing that housing applicants may miss out on apartments on the river that are marketed 10,000 km away in Hong Kong.
The leading real estate consultants Savills have launched a campaign to sell the homes on Chatham Waters abroad, which raised fears that foreign investors could step in to make a quick profit.
Developers Peel L&P and Legal and General Affordable Homes are monitoring the development of several million pounds by the water for a mix of one- and two-bedroom apartments and three-bedroom townhouses on a 26-hectare plot.
But Medway’s councilors across the political divide say they fear much-needed housing could be wasted if property in Medway Towns falls into foreign hands.
Former Cabinet member Cllr Rupert Turpin (Con) said: “This is not helping the local population. The government has rightly acknowledged the need for affordable housing and this is rather defeating the object.
“This shows that the government’s housing policy has unintended consequences. We have seen parts of central London become places for uninhabited and extremely expensive Russian properties. Let us not repeat the soulless experiment here in Chatham.”
Parish Councilor Andy Stamp (lab) said: “This shows that Chatham Waters is clearly not a development that meets the needs of local residents.
“These luxury apartments are affordable for most Medway residents.
“Peel L&P seems to be more concerned about marketing the site internationally than building genuinely affordable homes for the local community.
“This is further proof that the proposed closure of the adjacent Chatham Docks site to accommodate more luxury apartments will not only lead to the disappearance of more than 2,300 jobs, nor will it benefit the people of Medway. ”
The selling point offered by Savill’s Hong Kong office has water features, a riverfront promenade, a central park with play areas with the bonus of being 38 minutes by train to central London. Peel’s master plan includes shops, leisure and commercial premises.
Apartments range in price from around £ 227,500 to £ 368,000 and come with balconies and full size windows to make the most of the views.
The deals offered will prove attractive to people living in Hong Kong which has become the most expensive real estate market in the world with house prices averaging around £ 940,000.
Buying in the UK has proven to be a profitable proposition for Hong Kong residents where the rental market is also expensive at more than £ 2,000 a month.
Kent’s average property price is around £ 387,000.
The market in the county has attracted buyers from Hong Kong who do business in the more affluent areas in the southeast.
But real estate experts in the county say that although many of these properties are listed, it is not always for the buy-to-let market.
Speaking of a development in Tunbridge Wells where 22 homes were taken up last year by buyers from Hong Kong, an agent who specializes in identifying homes in the UK for people in the city told KentOnline that it’s more about finding a permanent home on due to the extreme cost of property there.
“British real estate has always been popular with HK buyers for investment purposes,” said Fanny Chan, UK head of Hong Kong real estate agency Raeon International.
“But I’ve never seen such a strong demand for houses in the UK from buyers in HK. Right now it’s probably the strongest demand we’ve seen.”
Chan added that about 60-70% of her clients were looking for properties to live in themselves and were particularly interested in areas with good educational links and connections to London.
“I have never seen such a strong demand for houses in the UK from buyers in HK. Right now it is probably the strongest demand we have seen …”
Another reason why many believe there is a growing interest is a change in the visa rules for British citizens living in Hong Kong in light of unrest over the growing influence of the Beijing government over the city.
The Chatham Waters development currently has an Asda supermarket and Marston’s pub, with plans for a nursing home.
Peel and Savills were contacted for comment.