Developers are latching on to the word "lifestyle" when launching new homes. These days it seems a roof over your head is not enough, there has to be a package of extras to help busy Londoners get through the day.
At the luxury end of the housing market, the package might include pampering at an on-site spa, valet parking by a bowler-hatted attendant, or a Michelin-star meal prepared in your kitchen. A well-connected concierge will procure hot theatre tickets or arrange a limo.
Increasingly, more modest lifestyle extras are on offer lower down the ladder, particularly at gritty inner-city schemes, where developers believe buyers need an enticement to commit to the area. Communal roof gardens, free bikes, car clubs, gyms, screening rooms for movies, "refrigeration docks" for internet deliveries and short-term furniture rental are all on offer.
Whereas, at expensive apartment blocks, rich residents prefer to be "private" — not even sharing the lift — young singles and couples are often happy to meet and socialise with neighbours and like to invite friends and family over to share the facilities. Car clubs are motoring in popularity as young Londoners wake up to the cost and convenience benefits of not owning their own vehicle.
According to the AA, the average Londoner spends £476 a month on total car costs and only drives 20 hours a month. Belonging to a car club enables you to rent a car for an hour, or by the day, and therefore offers potentially big savings. You are also doing your bit for the planet.
Developers are linking up with companies such as Zipcar and City Car Club. Residents register free and then receive a smartcard. Cars are booked online or by telephone and the club member gets a text or email saying where the car is parked, which could be at the development where they live or another convenient pick-up point.
Car club membership is one of several extras at Stratford Halo, which looms over the main entrance to the Olympic Park. This scheme has 704 homes in five buildings, including penthouses in a 43-storey tower. Genesis housing association, the developer, has put in place a 24-hour management service with a concierge team to deal with day-today stuff, including handy people to help those moving in. Shared-ownership flats cost from £53,125 for 25 per cent. Call 0808 118 2655.
Closer to Canary Wharf is New Festival Quarter, where part-buy, part-rent flats are available through Family Mosaic housing association. "We're taking shared ownership to a new level of desirability and style," says Lauren Nicholson, head of marketing. The scheme has a private gym, 24-hour concierge and residents' roof garden. Prices from £76,125 for a 35 per cent share (full price, £217,500). Call 020 7089 1315.
Affordable flats with extras are also for sale at fancy riverside developments, where open-market homes sell for millions of pounds.
At Battersea Reach, two-bedroom apartments are priced from £120,750 for a 30 per cent share. This four-acre development has a line of glazed apartment blocks fronting the Thames. A new riverside promenade with communal gardens, bars and restaurants has become a destination in itself, and there is a residents-only Gym and Tonic fitness centre and meeting rooms. Call Notting Hill Housing on 020 8357 4444.
Burgess Park, a 113-acre expanse running between Peckham and Walworth, is one of the green spaces benefiting from mayoral investment, topped up by £6 million from Southwark council. The park has a number of listed buildings including a Victorian church, library and baths, alms houses and artisan cottages, and is being upgraded with a new lake, entrances, pathways and recreational areas. Homes surrounding the park are within the price range of first-time buyers.
L&Q housing association is working with Southwark council to redevelop Aylesbury Estate, which borders the park. Albany Place, the first phase, comprises four new buildings with 261 homes on the western edge of the estate. One of the apartment blocks faces directly onto Burgess Park. Prices start at £92,000 for a 40 per cent share (full price, £230,000). Buyers get free Zipcar membership. Call 0844 406 9290.