Spotlight on City of London: property area guide

Spotlight on City of London: property area guide

Despite towering prices and brutalist buildings, the City of London has lots to offer those who work and play hard
Property area guide on City of London with average property prices, current houses and flats for sale, best streets, up-and-coming areas and commuting times

City of London new homes news: apartments on the top six floors of The Heron - the City's largest new homes development - are currently being released, and Berkeley Homes is converting Roman House into 90 flats.

Best-rated schools: there are mainly private schools within the City of London, although the one state primary school is judged 'outstanding' by Ofsted.

Renting guide to the City of London: despite high prices, renting within the square mile is a popular option for professionals and sharers who want to walk to work.
Bank of England
© All pictures by Graham Hussey
Bank of England workers catch the rays outside the Royal Exchange in the heart of the City

During the Second World War, much of the City of London was wiped out by German bombs. Cripplegate ward was flattened, leaving only 48 residents. So in the late Fifties the City of London Corporation built Barbican there, one of London’s largest housing estates. The fortress-like estate’s concrete brutalist towers are humanised by a landscape of waterfalls, a lake, private gardens, an arts centre and a medieval church.

The City vies with New York for the title of the world’s leading financial centre. It’s a townscape dominated by streets of office blocks and landmark towers — not a place that encourages residents. The Square Mile has fewer than 8,000 residents — most of them living in Barbican — and over the next decade it doesn’t expect the number to grow beyond 10,000.

It remains a “city within a city”, with its own system of local government that dates back to medieval times, when the craft guilds controlled trade. Today their successors, the powerful livery companies, still hold sway, electing the Lord Mayor of London. The City is the only council in the country where the business community retains the right to vote in local elections, a franchise that was swept away elsewhere in the Sixties.

Click here for Melanie Backe-Hansen's history of the City of London
City view
The view from the top of St Paul's, taking in the towers of the City and the Shard

Houses and flats for sale in the City of London
Most homes are concentrated in Barbican, but in the small enclave of streets between Blackfriars and St Paul’s, and in Smithfield, there are warehouse apartments and flats above commercial premises. Barbican homes range in price from £325,000 for a studio to £2.25 million for a five-bedroom house. Frank Harris, the only estate agent with a Barbican branch, is selling a four-bedroom house with a roof terrace in The Postern for £2.25 million.
City of London map
The Grade II-listed Golden Lane Estate on the western edge of Barbican was built as social housing by the City of London. Like Barbican, it was designed by Chamberlin Powell & Bon. Now around half the flats are privately owned and are popular with the design-conscious. Prices here start at about £275,000 for a studio. A two-bedroom flat sells for around £550,000 to £600,000, compared with £750,000 to £800,000 at Barbican.
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And thank you to Charlotte Palmer and others for nominating the City of London.

The City also extends to a small area east of Bishopsgate around Petticoat Lane market, where there are flats available above commercial premises. Petticoat Tower, a Sixties brutalist block also built as social housing by the City of London, has a raised communal garden, and leasehold apartments here are among the cheapest in the neighbourhood. Two-bedroom flats sell for about £325,000.

In Middlesex Street, 85 new council flats are being built, the first new social housing since the Sixties. The keys to the first 24 were recently handed over. A total of 237 new social housing flats are planned before the end of 2016.

One of the most interesting buildings now on the market in the City is a Venetian-style property in Lothbury, almost opposite the Bank of England, that has been converted into two one-bedroom flats, on sale through Felicity J Lord for £1.2  million.

READ MORE: City of London new homes news
The City has a mix of offices and flats with spectacular balcony views along the Thames
Travel: almost every London Underground line passes through the City and there are six mainline train stations: Liverpool Street, Moorgate, Cannon Street, Fenchurch Street, Farringdon and Blackfriars. The new Crossrail link will have stations at Farringdon and Liverpool Street. All stations are in Zone 1 and an annual travelcard costs £1,216.

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See five-year property value trends in City of London

The area attracts: with many traders at their desks by 7am, many homes here are pieds-à-terre inhabited only during the working week. However, Tina Evans of Frank Harris said Barbican is home to a surprising number of families. “There are good nurseries and schools and I know families who share nannies. We also get downsizers who like the culture at the Barbican Centre — and living on one level.”

READ MORE: City of London renting guide
The Square Mile has less than 8,000 residents - most of them living in the Barbican
Staying power: Tina Evans says there is a lot of movement within the Barbican and she often finds herself brokering swaps with people wanting a larger flat or house swapping with someone wanting something smaller.

Postcodes: The Barbican is in EC2 that also includes Bank, Liverpool Street and Broadgate; Smithfield is in EC1; Aldgate, the area around the Lloyd’s building is in EC3; and from Mansion House to St Paul’s to Blackfriars it is EC4.

Best roads: In the City is it more the best tower blocks and on the Barbican it is the towers with the best views: Cromwell faces south west, while Shakespeare and Lauderdale face south west.

Up-and-coming areas: the Golden Lane Estate is often referred to as the poor man’s Barbican; flats here are cheaper and the quality of design is high.

READ MORE: The City of London's best-rated schools
The Royal Exchange
The bar inside the converted Royal Exchange
Shops and restaurants: The arrival of many luxury brands in the Royal Exchange next to the Bank of England and the new shopping centre One New Change at the top of Cheapside behind St Paul’s Cathedral has greatly improved city workers’ lunchtime window shopping and credit card busting experiences.

The Grand Café in the central atrium at the Royal Exchange is one of the most impressive spaces in the City where shoppers can enjoy everything from a coffee to a cocktail to a full meal before shopping at the likes of Boodle, Bulgari, Hermes, Gucci, Smythsons or Tiffany.

At One New Change there are over 60 shops and restaurants on three floors in a building designed by award-winning French architect, Jean Nouvel. Here there are branches of high street brands H&M, Top Shop, Banana Republic, Reiss and Karen Millen.

Jamie Oliver’s grill restaurant Barbecoa and Gordon Ramsay’s Bread Kitchen are here. There are three one-star Michelin restaurants: Pascal Aussignac’s Club Gascon in West Smithfield specialising in food from the south west of France; Gary Rhodes’ Rhodes Twenty Four on the twenty fourth floor of Tower 42 in Old Broad Street and Galvin La Chapelle in Spital Square.
£775,000: a four-storey house in St John Street, Clerkenwell, with the basement used as commercial space, a reception room on the ground floor and two bedrooms on the upper floors
Leisure and the arts: Barbican Centre, a world-class facility with a concert hall, two theatres, cinemas and art gallery, is home to the London Symphony Orchestra. The Museum of London charts the capital’s history in objects from a Roman “bikini” to a suitcase carried by a Turkish-Cypriot refugee in the Seventies.

Other museums include the Bank of England, the Clockmakers’ Museum, the Barts Hospital museum and the Guildhall Art Gallery.
For more local restaurants, pubs, bars, theatres, cinemas or attractions; or to book a table or tickets for a night out, visit

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Council: City of London Corporation (the councillors and aldermen sit as independents). Band D council tax for the 2013/2014 year is £943.39.


Five-year property price trends: City of London
City of London
Value trends UK comparison: 2008-2013

Who has the right to drive a flock of sheep over London Bridge, herd geese down Cheapside, get married in St Paul’s and avoid arrest for being drunk and disorderly?
These are ancient rights still enjoyed by City Freemen.

Where did a winged dragon replace Sir Christopher Wren’s gateway?
The Temple Bar marked the boundary of the City of London and the City of Westminster in Fleet Street. First erected in the middle of the 14th century it was renovated by Sir Christopher Wren and stood there until 1870 when complaints about traffic jams led to its removal to Hertfordshire. It was replaced with a statue of a winged dragon – the symbol of the City of London. The Temple Bar was returned to Paternoster Square near St Paul’s cathedral in 2004.

What inspired the poet William Wordsworth on the corner of Cheapside and Wood Street?
This is the site of St Peter Cheap, burnt down in the Great Fire of London in 1666 and never rebuilt. A still standing plane tree inspired the Wordsworth poem Reverie of Poor Susan that contains the lines: “At the corner of Wood Street, when daylight appears, Hangs a thrush that sings loud, it has sung for three years.”

Average prices: buying houses and flats in the City of London
One-bedroom flat: £698,000
Two-bedroom flat: £1.27 million
Three-bedroom flat: £4.22 million

Pictures by Graham Hussey

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