First-time buyers can enjoy the good life in Kensington, too
First-timers do not normally get a chance to buy into the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, home to the rich and influential. This is where the Prime Minister owns a house, and where fashion designer Stella McCartney lives. Steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal, Britain's wealthiest man, lives there, too. But now a select group of first-time buyers will be able to share in this glamorous quarter, living just around the corner from the Camerons' place, for the un-princely sum of £100,000.
The redevelopment of the troubled Wornington Green Estate, right at the northern tip of Portobello Road, gives buyers the chance to own a property in the best part of the borough to see capital growth. The dismal concrete estate has depressed values for years, but work began on the site earlier this year and over the course of a decade 1,000 new homes will emerge.
Most will go to private buyers or former tenants who will return to new rented homes. But 30 have been reserved for shared-ownership sales to first-time buyers.
Conor Kilbane, regeneration manager of Catalyst Housing, which is leading the rebuilding project designed by the award-winning PRP Architects, said the old estate, built on five and a half hectares, was very much past its sell-by date with very poor standards and dark areas that encouraged crime. The new scheme, Portobello Square, returns to the original community street pattern and will have flats in blocks of up to 12 storeys, with a parade of new shops fronting Portobello Road.
The first phase of nine affordable units launches in January 2013 but expressions of interest area are already being taken (visit portobellosquare.co.uk or chg.org.uk).
A 25 per cent share of a one-bedroom flat will cost around £100,000, while rent on the remainder will cost £350 to £450 per month. Interested buyers should also factor in an £80-a-month service charge.
As the name implies, the development has a square at its heart, while solar panels on the roof plus a combined heat and power plant ought to keep bills low. But the biggest selling point of Portobello Square is its amazing location.
"It is a fantastic, iconic address," said Kilbane. "It is world famous and great for transport, being so close to Ladbroke Grove Tube station. It is a very cosmopolitan area but also very stable."
Portobello Road needs little explanation with its shops, bars, cafés and restaurants.
But Portobello Green is also close to Golborne Road, with its own less touristy market, independent shops and bars. The area is on the up — evidenced by the arrival of a branch of Soho House's pizza offshoot, Pizza East. It also passes the green space test as it is close to Athlone Gardens.
In investment terms, though North Kensington remains far from the most sought-after address in the borough it is an area that stands a genuine chance of capital growth in the next few years.