Introduction by The Forest Editor Aiden:

"As I'm personally from a less privileged and working-class background, despite a decent career (before leaving to run our community station Tracks), buying my own gaff was never on my radar especially in London with soaring house prices and astronomic deposits needed. Like many people, with no 'bank of Mum and Dad' or to quote Phil and Kirsty being able to "beg, borrow or steal from friends and family", shared-ownership presented a way more affordable route as I could get a mortgage on a 25% share of the property and only have to pay a 5% deposit on that share so could manage to finance myself. I’ve now been in my shared ownership flat for four years which I can call home and always advise friends and fam on lower incomes who are struggling to save sizeable deposits that it’s an alternative option.

With Forest Gate gentrifying and a more affluent demographic moving in, though this can bring benefits as a consequence it can also price out first-time buyers and locals born'n'bred in the neighbourhood who are the life and soul of the area.

We want to showcase affordable housing options so in the first of our new series we feature community based housing association Gateway Homes and their shared ownership scheme that has been helping first-time buyers get on the property ladder."

Gateway Housing Association has been supporting communities to thrive since 1926. Our early formation goes back to 1926 when we began life as Bethnal Green Housing Association. The first scheme at Queen Margaret Flats (which still owned and managed by Gateway today) was opened in 1929.

We strive to meet our purpose of ‘To provide great homes for people in East London and to support communities to thrive’.

Our community based housing association delivers homes across East London for buyers of all aspirations and needs; Forest Gate especially is a superb location for first-time buyers. With fast transport links into Central London, easy access to green space and a thriving community in close proximity to the development, buyers are provided with a fantastic opportunity to live in an up-and-coming East London hotspot with an affordable price tag.

"We know house prices are simply too steep for many would-be buyers in London; home ownership in a popular location in the capital is completely out of reach. "

Our mission at Earlham Square is to provide a more affordable opportunity for people to get a foot onto the ladder in this incredibly popular pocket of East London. Thanks to the availability of shared ownership, buyers have no need to compromise when it comes to fulfilling their dream of moving into a home of their own and can’t currently afford to buy one outright.

Shared ownership is very straightforward. You buy a share of a home, typically between 25 and 75 per cent, depending on what you can afford based on your household income – anyone with a household income of less than £90,000 in London can apply. The deposit, usually five per cent, is based on the share you buy, which is much lower than paying a deposit on the full price. You then take out a mortgage to cover the rest of your share and pay a monthly rent on the share you do not own.

Our apartments at Earlham Square have light-filled open plan living, kitchen and dining areas provide ample space for relaxing, working or entertaining friends. Each apartment has its own private balcony or terrace and shared landscaped courtyards that interlink the buildings.

Sarah Guarrasi, 37 and her partner James, 39, had long dreamed of buying their own home. Living in a rented flat in Forest Gate, they loved the area and wanted to stay, but could not afford to buy a high-quality new home outright. Luckily, they found a solution in shared ownership which allowed them to purchase a share in a two-bedroom apartment at Earlham Square.

Sara says: “I’m really happy with our home. The rooms are very spacious and much bigger than in our rented apartment. It’s beautifully finished and feels very luxurious and comfortable. We love the large balcony – there are views of the Olympic Park and at night the lights and skyline look stunning.”

Sara loves the strong community feel in Forest Gate, which she describes as a “‘brilliant place to live”.

She adds: “The amenities are great with lots of shops and supermarkets nearby and we even have a GP surgery opposite.There’s plenty of green space, playgrounds and activities for children, and the local schools are excellent, which is important to us as our son starts school next year. We’ll never move from here!”

For further updates follow @gatewaynewhomes and to book a private appointment to view the show home, visit

Note to reader: this is not a paid piece of advertorial. We at the Forest believe that buying any sort of home in Forest Gate, its surrounding areas and London in general is completely out of reach for a lot of us. Whilst this is neither right nor fair, it's how this country is under the current framework and the lack of social housing. Our area is a vibrant and diverse community and we want it to remain that way. If projects like this help as many people as possible from different social backgrounds to stay in the area then we encourage it.