The grand white stucco terraces of Pimlico bear a striking resemblance to those in wealthier Belgravia. Both neighbourhoods owe their existence to the marriage of heiress Mary Davies to Sir Thomas Grosvenor in 1677 at the tender age of 12; and both were developed by the Grosvenor family in the 19th century by the visionary builder Thomas Cubitt, whose statue stands in Denbigh Street.
Situated north of a bend in the River Thames, west of Westminster, south of Belgravia and east of Chelsea, Pimlico is still overlooked. However, Alex Leschallas from the Pimlico branch of estate agents Douglas & Gordon says that people are beginning to wake up to the fact that the “poor man’s Belgravia” represents excellent value for money for central London.
What there is to buy in Pimlico
Pimlico is known for its monumental terraces. The largest houses are in the garden squares, Eccleston, Warwick and St George’s and along the two big main roads, Belgrave Road and St George’s Drive which dissect the area. There are smaller examples in the Pimlico grid roads such as Cambridge, Alderney and Winchester streets. Most houses have been converted into flats and whole houses come on to the market only rarely. At the moment the most expensive house for sale in Pimlico is a six-bedroom, five-storey house in Warwick Square which King Sturge (020 7201 6699) is selling for £5.35 million.
People pay around £1,000 per square foot for the best houses and flats in the white stucco streets. In nearby Belgravia or Knightsbridge, prices are at least twice that.
Pimlico also has a strong rental market. The Thirties Dolphin Square on Grosvenor Road has the feel of a self-contained village with a gym, swimming pool and restaurant. Popular with MPs, the flats currently available range from £260 a week for a studio to £595 for a three-bedroom apartment.
Who moves in and which hearts are captured
First-time buyers using the bank of mum and dad — and many more of them do these days; professional couples; out-of-towners in search of a pied à terre; overseas buyers — particularly Italians — who see it as good value.
There are plenty of children in the garden squares, but families without a magic key to the private communal gardens tend to move out to more family-oriented places such as Clapham and Wandsworth or Guildford.
Pimlico is SW1, which also covers Westminster, Belgravia and parts of Knightsbridge and the best roads are probably those around Eccleston and Warwick Squares; both of these squares open under annual Open Garden Squares Weekend (which this year runs on June 11 and 12).
Grosvenor Waterside overlooking Chelsea Bridge is a new development of 640 flats in eight blocks clustered round a city basin once used to load council waste. The development by St James is a short walk from Sloane Square, the King’s Road and the Chelsea Barracks development which is likely to become a magnet for the world’s super-rich.
There are 10 flats currently for sale in the Bramah building starting at £630,000 for a one-bedroom property and £905,000 for two bedrooms. Call Knight Frank on 020 3006 0300.
Alex Leschallas likes the Moreton triangle formed by Moreton Street, Moreton Terrace and Moreton Place, where the houses are similar to those in the Pimlico grid. “Prices are catching up but houses here are still cheaper, and there is a good community feel.” Former council flats always sell at a discount, but the gap between the price of flats in Pimlico’s well-maintained council estates — the best are Churchill Gardens and the red-brick award-winning Lillington Gardens designed in the Sixties by Darbourne & Dark — and the stucco terraces is unusually wide and could narrow over time.
There are many state primary schools in Pimlico or a short walk away. The following are judged “outstanding” by the Government watchdog Ofsted: St Peter’s Eaton Square in Lower Belgrave Street, St Gabriel’s CofE in Churchill Gardens Road and Millbank in Erasmus Street. The Grey Coat Hospital is a state comprehensive for girls that is also judged “outstanding”.
St Thomas’s, which runs a chain of private prep schools in south-west London, has a kindergarten in Ranelagh Grove; the leading prep school is Westminster Cathedral Choir School (boys age seven to 13) which also trains the choirboys for the catholic cathedral; Westminster, close to the Abbey, is one of the country’s top academic schools which takes boys from 13 and girls in the sixth form.
Pimlico has a good mix of shops, restaurants and cafés. Lupus Street, Tachbrook Street, Churton Street, Warwick Way, Wilton Road and Denbigh Street serve the local area, so charity shops rub shoulders with barbers, delis and pavement cafés.
In these streets several shops and restaurants stand out: Rippon is one of the capital’s leading cheese shops; at Volpe — Italian for Fox — Adrian Holdsworth, the owner, is a tailor who also sources beautiful bags, shoes and men’s shirts from Italy; and in Wilton Road, Pimlico Fresh is a stylish café with chalkboard walls.
Where Pimlico meets Belgravia along Pimlico Road there is a step change. Here, around Orange Square, there is a Saturday farmers’ market, Daylesford Organic, where locals pick over a few stylish salad leaves for lunch; and it’s also the area where you can consult many of London’s leading interior designers such a Nicholas Haslam, Joanna Wood and Jane Churchill.
For those without access to the garden squares, Pimlico can feel very urban, although there are fine riverside walks, and Green Park and St James’s Park are close.
Leisure and the arts
The Queen Mother Sports Centre on Vauxhall Bridge Road is the nearest council-owned pool and the privately owned pool in Dolphin Square is available to members of the fitness club. There are two large theatres in Victoria: the Victoria Palace and the Art Deco Apollo. The Royal Court is in nearby Sloane Square. There are no cinemas. Tate Britain is a near neighbour.
* MORE ON THE BOROUGH OF WESTMINSTER:
For more local restaurants, pubs, bars, theatres, cinemas or attractions; or to book a table or tickets for a night out, visit LondonLive.co.uk/Westminster.
Search properties, jobs or dates in any London boroughs.
Pimlico is in Zone 1 and not in the congestion charge area. There are two Tube stations: Victoria and Pimlico both on the Victoria line. Victoria mainline station offers quick access to East Croydon, Gatwick and the coast. There are many buses. An annual travelcard covering Zones 1 and 2 costs £1,104.
Westminster City Council (Conservative controlled); Band D council tax for 2011/2012 is £687.62.
Buying in Pimlico
One-bedroom flat £359,000
Two-bedroom flat £491,000
Three-bedroom house £1.25 million
Four-bedroom house £1.97 million
Renting in Pimlico
One-bedroom flat £375 per week
Two-bedroom flat £500 per week
Three-bedroom house £700 per week
Four-bedroom house £1,200 per week
Source: Douglas & Gordon
Photographs: Barry Phillips