Open Garden Squares Weekend: opening the gates to the city’s best-kept secrets

The homes cost £2 million but 200 of London’s loveliest private gardens are open to everyone this weekend.

The average price of a home in a central London garden square has breached the £2 million mark for the first time, such is the cachet of access to a private green space, kitted out with everything from tennis courts to barbecue pits.
 
Prices of garden square homes are now 25 per cent higher than similar homes in surrounding streets, according to research by Hamptons International.

Londoners have an opportunity to savour the landscaped world behind the wrought-iron gates during the annual Open Garden Squares Weekend (13-14 June 2015).
 
These secret gardens are the preserve of the key holders who live about the squares. More than 200 gardens will be open to the public across the capital (opensquares.org).

Noel de Keyser, a director of property agent Savills, says buyers pay a premium for a garden square home because they want privacy, exclusivity and a green view. Ironically, as De Keyser says, busy Londoners hardly ever find time to use the gardens.

TAKE A TOUR: THE LUXURY HOMES THAT COME WITH THE KEYS TO LONDON'S MOST IMPRESSIVE SECRET GARDENS


   
Celebrity squares
Hamptons’ research is based on analysis of sale prices of properties in 64 central London garden squares, and shows the value of this type of home has increased seven per cent in the past 12 months, to an average of £2,040,713. Homes within 220 yards of a square sell at an average of £1,643,907.
 
Report author Johnny Morris, head of research at Hamptons International, says there is more to it than garden square living. The homes have classic, fine British architecture, and addresses such as Eaton Square or Chester Square are recognised the world over.
 
London’s most expensive square in which to buy a house is Wilton Crescent, Belgravia, where an average property tops £16 million. A spacious home in Chester Square, Belgravia, Collingham Gardens, Kensington, or Kensington Square will all cost upwards of £10 million.
 
When it comes to flats, Chester Square is the most expensive option with an average apartment topping £6.25 million, followed by Eaton Square, Belgravia, with an average price of almost £5.8 million.
 
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£2.95 million: this three-bedroom apartment is set over the third and fourth floors of a Grade II-listed building overloooking Ennismore Gardens in Knightsbridge


Alex Newall, managing director at Hanover Private Office, believes Chester Square is worth its price of about £3,200 a square foot. “Not only are you surrounded by beautiful stucco homes, but you have Elizabeth Street with its lovely cafés and boutique shops around the corner.
 
“This leafy garden square has been home to some of the world’s most famous people, including Chelsea Football Club owner Roman Abramovich, the late Baroness Thatcher and celebrity chef Nigella Lawson.”

The favourite of Harry Buchanan, director of Jackson-Stops & Staff, is Warwick Square in Pimlico. “It’s a slice of romantic countryside in the city thanks to its beautifully planted gardens and tennis court. Most of the homes surrounding this square are split into flats, at about £1.6 million for two bedrooms,” he says.
 

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Guide price £4.5 million: a split-level maisonette overlooking Onslow Gardens, SW7

Affordable choice
Luke Bishop, of Wooster & Stock estate agents, says the affordable option, Choumert Square in Peckham, offers two-bedroom cottages for between £400,000 and £450,000. “Choumert Square is a perfectly enchanting enclave of mid-Victorian cottages,” says Bishop.
 
“Two things make it delightful — there are no cars, and the gardens are at the front of the houses. It’s not often you find such a pretty, charming set-up. The square has held its own Christmas carols by lamplight since 1983. It is a unique square with a perfect village-like feel. Demand for a Choumert Square cottage is always increasing.”


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