A pocket of the prized SW1 postcode next to Buckingham Palace where history traditionally met power and culture is regaining its fashionable profile lost over the years.
If you are a royal watcher, a penthouse at one of several prestigious new housing developments within 110 yards or so of London’s most famous address will bring a certain idiosyncratic rhythm to your day, as you see the Queen and her entourage come and go, and the Changing of the Guard.
The character of the once-aristocratic area immediately to the west of the Palace changed dramatically in the 20th century with the arrival of office blocks, while traffic jams and souvenir shops set the tone in Buckingham Palace Road.
Today, however, readily available permission to convert offices back into homes and more realistic pricing of property in posh central London are bringing quality homes with lower service charges to UK-based buyers, in a quarter re-emerging as fashionable.
On a corner site directly opposite the Palace and its 42-acre grounds is No 1 Palace Street, a new scheme of 72 flats. Originally built as a grand Victorian hotel in the Beaux-Arts style to host VIPs and royal guests, it later became government offices.
It is being restored to its former splendour by specialist property company Northacre.
The flats, with 16ft-high ceilings, will be completed in 2019. Prices from £2,145,000. Call 020 7349 8000.
Exquisite flats created behind a listed façade at 22 Buckingham Gate are a welcome change from the sanitised “international hotel” look of many high-end London developments. Once a warren of offices, this is now a collection of large, light homes.
The building has an internal glass-walled atrium providing private courtyards and terraces. The developer is Seastar, an Evening Standard New Homes Awards winner that specialises in niche projects. Here, it has used rich textural finishes and materials for a classic-contemporary feel.
Beyond the entrance lobby, there is direct lift entry to each flat, while a home-automation system allows remote control of lighting, heating and security.
With 999-year leases, prices range from £1,395,000 to £5.5 million — equating to £1,800 per square foot, half the price of the best homes in nearby Belgravia and St James’s. The duplex penthouse boasts a view of Nelson’s Column. Call 020 7664 6649.
Six vast luxury flats of up to 5,189sq ft are for sale at The Buckingham, a conversion of a historic listed townhouse, with interior design by David Collins Studio. Prices from £9,950,000. Call 020 7235 9959.
And coming soon is a 39-home Buckingham Gate scheme by boutique developer Artesian, another Evening Standard New Homes Awards winner.
In the pipeline
Grosvenor Gardens House, built in 1867, was then Britain’s first serviced apartment block with shops at street level.
Having suffered waves of alterations as offices, it will again become a residential block, with concierge services provided by The Goring Hotel, the neighbouring luxurious establishment where the Duchess of Cambridge spent her last night as a single woman before marrying Prince William.
Another 16 flats are being created at 35 Old Queen Street, in the Birdcage Walk conservation area.
Total regeneration of Victoria, spearheaded by the UK’s largest commercial property company, is improving what has been a dull area. In 2002, Land Securities devised a masterplan to reinvent Victoria as a “lifestyle location”.
The £2.2 billion project is now nearing completion. Having upgraded the high street with glass-clad Cardinal Place, a mix of shops, offices and flats, the company has switched its focus to a five-acre island site corralled by cars.
Called Nova, there are five fresh buildings including a block of 170 flats, plus new pedestrian links to Buckingham Palace and the Royal Parks. Prices from £1,925,000. Call 020 7409 8756.
Bye-Bye civil servants, hello creatives
This former “Civil Service land” is now a place where culture, commerce and creativity meet. The thriving St James Theatre is the first new theatre complex in central London for decades, while Channel 4 and fashion brands Burberry and Jimmy Choo have headquarters here.
When developer Alchemi acquired a concrete office block at 55 Victoria Street, it remodelled the building to create 54 open-plan loft-style flats with a lush sky garden. Prices from £1 million. Call Foxtons on 020 7973 2020.
Ten Broadway, better known as New Scotland Yard, is the next high-profile development, with six new buildings and 246 flats. Likely to follow this is Transport for London’s listed HQ above St James’s Park Tube station.
The Art Deco building featuring prized façade sculptures by Jacob Epstein and Henry Moore has planning permission for conversion into 89 flats.