British homebuyers to get first bite of new homes launches

Politicians are taking a stand over pre-selling property to foreign investors. A new industry code will put home-grown buyers back at the top of the developers' lists.

From £265,000: flats at The Mission, a church redevelopment in Hackney Wick

Londoners are being offered first bite of the cherry with a fresh crop of new home projects, as developers step back from initially launching schemes abroad to foreign buyers who are keen to invest in the capital. 

“Pre-selling” to foreign buyers has become a hot issue, with Lib-Dem MP Simon Hughes leading a campaign to stop the practice. He argues that the trend pushes up prices, prevents Londoners buying homes, and creates “ghost” developments with empty apartments owned by absentee landlords buying for investment.

Savills estimates that 75 per cent of private new homes in central London were snapped up by foreign buyers in 2012/13. From April next year, foreign owners will have to pay capital gains tax on any profits, but this is unlikely to dent demand from international buyers, as London property remains such a good investment bet.

Fearing tighter controls on foreign investors after the next general election, developers are going on a charm offensive with London buyers and have signed up to an industry code pledging to market all new homes in the UK before, or at least at the same time, as going overseas. Mayor of London Boris Johnson has welcomed the move.

“While overseas investment is a necessary part of any global city’s housing market, it is right that Londoners are not disadvantaged and new homes are made available to them at the outset,” he says. Barratt, Crest Nicholson, Galliard, Fairview, Redrow, Taylor Wimpey, Telford and Lend Lease are the big-name developers who have signed up to the code.

Smaller builders and niche developers are also focusing on London buyers — and why wouldn’t they, says Carl Schmid of east London estate agent Fyfe Mcdade. “The market is red hot with domestic buyers and likely to remain that way for at least the rest of this year.”

In today’s cost-conscious climate, homebuyers want best possible value for money and are searching for areas that are up and coming. For their part, developers are investing in outstanding architecture and pushing interior design, “that captures buyers’ imagination”.

New homes are in short supply, particularly finished properties, which is driving buyers towards  off-plan deals up to three years ahead of completion.


From £2.275 million: for homes at Saint Martins Lofts, the art school redevelopment, Charing Cross Road. Call 020 7993 7395

London spring debuts
Saint Martins Lofts are hot property
“Every so often there’s a project that sets the market alight, and this is it,” says Ben Walden-Jones of estate agent Jones Lang LaSalle, referring to Saint Martins Lofts, a redevelopment of the former art school on Charing Cross Road. “It’s a genuine loft scheme, in the spirit of the original New York lofts and the match of anything in London.”
Thirteen apartments have been created behind a factory-style façade with huge Crittall windows up to 21ft high. Double-height, light-filled laterals and duplexes range from 1,259sq ft to 2,896sq ft and have classy, contemporary interiors. A show flat has been designed by former Saint Martins College student Marc Peridis, owner of Soho design studio 19 Greek Street. Prices from £2,275,000. Call 020 7993 7395. A new Foyles bookshop and offices will fill the lower floors.


Low-energy homes: at Four Hundred Caledonian Road, in desirable King's Cross. Visit to register
Squeaky-clean King’s Cross
King’s Cross has had a magnificent cleanse and rebrand and gone from the haunt of pimps and prostitutes to a prime property market. It has even become a “desirable neighbourhood”, following the transformation of derelict railway land, and a scruffy area just to the north of the station is swinging into fashion.

Lively Caledonian Road is the spine of this area and launching on “The Cally” next month is a scheme of 25 low-energy homes, work studios and shops, called Four Hundred Caledonian Road.

Compulsorily purchased as part of the Eurostar tunnelling project, the factory workshop had been empty and decaying for several years.

Igloo, a regeneration specialist, is restoring the handsome Victorian frontage and a rear stable block and building a new courtyard apartment complex plus two semi-detached houses. To register, visit
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Hackney grabs the headlines
Hackney Wick butts against the Olympic Park and is a frontline winner of the unfolding legacy benefits from the London 2012 Games. Previously off the buyers’ radar, regeneration is now reversing decades of industrial decline.

The Mission is an imaginative redevelopment of a 19th-century church, with two modern residential “wings” built either side of the listed church tower. Homes are being created in a separate double-height mission hall, while a new vicarage is being built alongside and a café is being created in the cobbled courtyard. Prices from £265,000 to £550,000. Call estate agent Fyfe Mcdade on 020 7613 4044.
Stratford Riverside looms over the Olympic Park and also faces the River Lea. Apartments with full-height glazing are spread across a tower and a lower-rise building topped by a communal roof garden. Prices from £275,000. Call Weston Homes on 01279 873300.

From £2,650,000:
Marryat Place townhouses near Wimbledon's All England Club
Anyone for a home near a tennis court? 
Wimbledon is the prosperous London suburb with green space in spades for banker’s families with their 4x4s. It offers golf courses, good schools and a vast, wonderful common that stretches to Putney Vale. Homes bordering this protected semi-wooded expanse command the area’s highest prices. Marryat Place comprises a group of large, grand townhouses with up to six bedrooms, set in a private cul de sac and also close to the All England Club and village centre. Prices from £2,650,000. Call Berkeley Homes on 020 3697 9330.

Macaulay Walk 
in Clapham has 97 homes, including warehouse apartments, penthouses and office studios
Clapham no longer common
Macaulay Walk close to Clapham Common Tube station is convenient for Northern line commuters to the City or West End. The courtyard complex of 97 homes has been created on the site of a camera lens factory and combines loft-like apartments in converted warehouses with new-build blocks, penthouses and office studios aimed at local small businesses such as architects and graphic designers. Larger flats in the refurbished buildings retain original high ceilings and windows, brick and ironwork. Launching this spring. Call Savills on 020 7795 4600.
West Kensington goes above the radar
Priced out of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea but want to live within walking distance of the parks, museums and restaurants? Try Octavo Mews in West Kensington, W14, which has eight modern houses with light-filled basements. Prices from £1.4 million. Call Hamptons International on 020 7758 8488. 

From £650,000: six two-bedroom apartments at The Coachworks in Kensal Rise. Call 020 7604 3200
The Coachworks in gentrifying Kensal Rise, NW10, has just six two-bedroom apartments priced from £650,000. Call Green & Co on 020 7604 3200. 
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