Property prices in prime central London hit a new high this summer — homes in the capital’s most exalted postcodes have risen 13 per cent since 2010, while the rest of the UK market continues to stagnate.
But what are the chances of a mere mortal being able to buy a slice of prime London, when an average flat in Camden costs £562,000, or £751,000 in neighbouring Westminster?
Which is why it is so extraordinary that first-time buyers are being given a chance to live precisely on the border of these two boroughs, in affluent St John’s Wood, for just £77,000. And they will only need to raise a deposit of £3,850.
At the end of this month, Origin Housing launches its latest development, The Move, a scheme that includes 27 shared-ownership flats, as well as nine for rent and six for private sale.
The Move has been designed by architects Levitt Bernstein as contemporary “floating” blocks, each with frosted glass balconies. The spec is high but what is really outstanding there is the area: close neighbours will include Sir Paul McCartney and Ewan McGregor, while trains from nearby South Hampstead Overground station to Euston take just 10 minutes.
Alternatively, you could hop on the Jubilee line at either Swiss Cottage or St John’s Wood for a direct link to the West End and Canary Wharf.
And, as well as the village shopping experience of St John’s Wood High Street with its individuality and community, reinforced by all its cafés and pretty restaurants, you have some of the loveliest open spaces less than a mile away in Primrose Hill and Regent’s Park.
Now for the nitty gritty: a 25 per cent share of a one-bedroom flat costs £77,500 (full market value £310,000). The total monthly cost (including mortgage repayments, rental and service charge) is £1,114.
Two-bedroom flats start at £102,500 for a 25 per cent share in a property valued at £410,000. Total monthly outgoings will be £1,433.
The scheme is aimed at households with an income of less than £64,300, and priority will be given to buyers who already live or work in the area.
To register your interest visit origin-move.co.uk. For more information on the private flats see thomsoncurrielnh.co.uk. The flats will be ready in November and have all the details you would expect — fitted kitchens in a choice of monochrome or white gloss, modern white bathrooms, and video-entry systems.
There is also a communal satellite dish, and to help out with storage, all residents will have at least one good- sized cupboard in the hallway of the building.
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But perhaps the best feature is the size of the balcony, measuring from a minimum 3.85m by 2m, up to 7m by 2m, for all the flats. “They really give a wow factor because they are so big,” said Simon Scott, head of marketing at Origin.
“And this area is just beautiful. The architecture is lovely, the people around you are friendly, unlike some places in London, and you feel safe walking around alone at night. There is just a nice feeling.”
St John’s Wood is well stocked with restaurants and pubs — One Blenheim Terrace and the Salt House are particularly good choices. The high street is stuffed with smart boutiques, which may be a little beyond the budget of a new home owner but are good for window shopping at least.
And although there is not much in the way of nightlife, you are only a couple of stops on the Tube from the West End.
“Regent’s Park is only around the corner,” adds Scott, “and if you cycle you can really get anywhere. Hampstead Heath isn’t far away. I think it is amazing you can live in one of London’s most expensive boroughs, and have a NW8 postcode for this sort of money.”