Perhaps it would never occur to a first-time buyer to look in fashionable central London hotspots like Kensington and Chelsea, Notting Hill or Pimlico, but within the millionaire postcodes a select handful of schemes have been launched that are very affordable, very smart and bang in the centre of town.
Developer St James, part of the Berkeley Group, has built Grosvenor Waterside around a historic dock opposite Chelsea Bridge. Close to Chelsea's Royal Hospital and adjacent to the Chelsea Barracks site, this will eventually emerge as a top address.
A total of 620 flats have been built in six blocks designed by well-known architects such as Twigg Brown and Allies and Morrison. A quarter of the flats fall into the affordable category, and housing association A2 Dominion (0800 783 2159; a2dominion.co.uk/newhomes) has 86 one-bedroom flats for sale under the Government's New Build HomeBuy scheme. About 23 remain in Woods House, designed by Ken Shuttleworth's Make Architects.
The flats are available to those who currently live or work in Westminster and prices start at £78,975 for a 25 per cent share of a flat with a market value of £318,500. The minimum income for a single person is £30,996, or £34,758 for a couple.
At the heart of things
It is hard to get more central than Flower Court, a development in the heart of the West End in Great Titchfield Street. Two one-bedroom flats remain for shared ownership through Genesishomes (0845 600 4663; genesishomes.org.uk) with prices starting at £102,500 for a 25 per cent share of a flat with a market value of £410,000.
The minimum single income is £39,998, £45,733 for a couple. Buyers need to live or work in Westminster and be registered with Homeownership Westminster (homeowneshipwestminster.co.uk).
Across the river in Vauxhall, Notting Hill Housing is selling 53 one-and two-bedroom flats, of which 10 remain, in Aquarius House (020 8357 4444;nottinghillhousing.org.uk/sgw), one of 10 tower blocks that make up the riverside St George Wharf development.
The affordable flats are available to anyone living or working in London but with priority being given to Lambeth residents. Prices start at £108,500 for a 35 per cent share of a one-bedroom flat with a market value of £310,000 and £134,750 for the same share of a two-bedroom flat with a market value of £385,000.
The minimum income for the one-bedroom flats is £31,000 for a single person, and £34,000 for a couple; and for the two-bedroom flats it is £35,000 and £38,000 respectively.
Camden has the film-star glamour of Primrose Hill and Regent's Park and the tourist excitement of Camden Lock. Genesishomes is responsible for Somerston House (0845 600 4663; genesishomes.org.uk), a development of two canalside blocks in St Pancras Way where it crosses the Regent's Canal on the site of an old warehouse.
A 10-minute walk along the canal to Camden Lock, only one one-bedroom flat of the 46 shared-ownership flats remains, at a price of £76,875 for a 25 per cent share of £307,500. The minimum income is £28,788 for a single person and £32,914 for a couple.
Chelsea and the King's Road is one of London's most fashionable quarters. Imperial Wharf (020 7610 9693; imperialwharf.com) is a large, mixed-use riverside development of flats, offices, shops, cafés and restaurants by developer St George. It is planned around a 10-acre park with wide boulevards next to Chelsea Harbour.
St George, in conjunction with Hammersmith & Fulham council, has reserved a small number of studio flats for first-time buyers living or working in the borough. Prices start at £182,700 for a 70 per cent share with no rent payable on the remaining 30 per cent for a flat with a value of £261,000. The maximum qualifying salary is £60,000.
'It's a dream come true'
When Verity Parker was looking to buy she never thought she would end up living in such a prime location as Westminster.
However, the 29-year-old spotted an advertisement for A2Dominion's Woods House and, bingo, there she was.
"I was renting in Bethnal Green in east London. I never dreamed I would be able to afford to live in Pimlico, right around the corner from Chelsea," says Verity. She had saved a 10 per cent deposit and help from her parents enabled her to buy a 25 per cent share of a one-bedroom flat for £89,000.
Everything is very affordable on her salary of £33,000 as a buyer for a major department store. "Not many people find affordable flats in Zone 1. I can walk to most places and hardly ever get the Tube. "The flat itself has a big terrace and feels spacious, not like most poky, one-bedroom flats, and it's brand-new."