Regent Street: the secret streets and new rental market attracting young Londoners

With its flagship shops for Karl Lagerfeld, Burberry, Michael Kors and Apple, Regent Street has become a luxury shopping destination to rival Paris's Champs-Élysées or New York's Fifth Avenue, but it is also at the heart of a thriving city village.

Some people are lucky enough to live in the street itself, while many more have found homes in the cobbled lanes, quiet mews and newly created courtyards tucked away behind Regent Street's grandly sweeping terraces, built to a plan by John Nash in 1825.

The "parish" of Regent Street has a church with a primary school close by, a doctors surgery and a cobbler's. There is a Whole Foods shop for groceries and John Lewis has a Waitrose. Berwick Street food market is less than five minutes away. "Regent Street has everything for day-to-day living," says Nasa Hadadi, an investment manager for Genii Capital, who lives in neighbouring Swallow Street.

Chefs Gordon Ramsay, Angela Hartnett and Jason Atherton are leading a "backstreet" foodie revolution

The Apple store — in the former Hanover Chapel — has its own theatre and has staged gigs by acts including REM, while the Kaiser Chiefs have played Christopher Bailey's Burberry store.

And now the street has its own cinema. Following a multimillion-pound restoration, the 200-seat Regent Street Cinema has just opened at number 309 — where moving pictures were first shown almost 120 years ago by the Lumière brothers. Architects have preserved the original plasterwork, cornicing and barrel-vaulted ceiling, while creating a state-of-the-art auditorium for red-carpet film premieres, lectures and seminars.

Top brand: high-end US fashion store J Crew is a recent Regent Street arrival

It is just the latest stage in the Crown Estate's £1 billion regeneration of Regent Street, which stretches 1.2 miles and, along with its shops, has a million square feet of office space rented by an impressive list of blue-chip tenants. Office workers in the area have been joined by 5,000 BBC staff in Broadcasting House at the top of the street. As the main landlord, the Crown Estate has been coaxing more people to live in and around Regent Street by encouraging the conversion of former commercial space into new homes.

Japanese student Hiroka Miyama, 26, who has just finished an MA at Regent's University, also lives in Swallow Street. "It's walking distance from everywhere. And it feels incredibly safe and quiet walking home at 2am," she says. Her top-floor flat has two bedrooms and two bathrooms, a living room and a skylight overlooking the curve of Regent Street, for £1,000 per week.

Open for business: shoppers and tourists are catered for with traffic-free days, pop-up markets and fine dining in areas such as Heddon Street 

Flats are rented from the Crown Estate. "We furnish them all and dress them differently, depending on the location," says Bradley Williams, of Regent Street Management Direct, the managing agent. A split-level apartment in Hanover Street, with two double bedrooms, two bathrooms, a study and a spacious reception/dining area, is £1,550 a week. A penthouse in Sackville Street — two double bedrooms, two bathrooms and an open-plan reception — is £1,050 a week.

There are 18 more modestly priced flats in Albany House at 324 Regent Street, where rooms have the feel of a traditional London townhouse. Expect to pay £400-£500 a week for a one-bedroom flat and up to £2,000 a week for a two-bedroom flat. Regent Street Management Direct has also unveiled six flats in Mortimer Street, just off Oxford Circus, aimed at BBC workers.

Star attraction: gigs have been held in Apple's European flagship store

More than £25 million has been invested in and around Regent Street, anticipating Crossrail's arrival in 2018 — with stations at Tottenham Court Road and Bond Street, and a station exit planned for Hanover Square. Two pedestrianised food quarters have been created, and there are pop-ups, markets and traffic-free days. Chefs Jason Atherton, Gordon Ramsay and Angela Hartnett are leading a "backstreet" foodie revolution, and for tired shoppers, there is a "secret" gin bar upstairs at Hackett.

The "gateways" to Regent Street, Oxford Circus and Piccadilly Circus have also been upgraded, while the site of the old Regent Palace Hotel has been turned into the Quadrant building, housing 2,000 workers. On top of the building are eight apartments. Below is Parisian-style café Brasserie Zedel, with its restored Art Deco interiors.

Regent Street attracts the art crowd, with new galleries from Sadie Coles, Hauser & Wirth and Blain|Southern. The Crown Estate has commissioned 13 pieces of public art and is producing an art walking tour of the area.

For Hadadi, it is home: "I live on the top floor, so it is quiet, with great views across the city." 

Prime properties to buy or rent in the Regent Street area:

From £615 a week: 14 smart balconied flats at Shaftesbury's Carnaby Court are part of a fresh district emerging around Kingly Street and Carnaby Street, with many new shops, cafés, bars and restaurants
£1,000 a week: a two-bedroom flat with porter in Maddox Street, W1
£3.5 million: a two-bedroom flat at Verge Apartments, in Dering Street


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