Victoria, in the heart of Westminster, is about to have a new residential and retail quarter.
- © Glenn Copus
A £1 billion high-profile scheme on a prime six-acre site bounded by Victoria Street and Buckingham Palace Road has been given the go-ahead.
Its launch will offer prized new homes at a central London location, complementing boutique apartment schemes, such as that typified by the conversion of listed Caxton Hall.
For decades this part of the posh SW1 postcode has been strangely low-key as a place to live (except, of course, among MPs eager to be virtually next door to the House of Commons).
Recently, several ministry buildings were converted into flats. And now, new commercial occupiers are relocating to the area, changing its “civil service land” character.
'Value-for-money is one of Westminster's draws - it's cheaper than nearby Belgravia and other SW1 neighbourhoods'
Burberry has chosen Horseferry Road for its new headquarters, joining Channel 4, whose media execs and office workers have helped breathe fresh life into once-flagging bars and eateries. Noted restaurants, such as the Cinnamon Club, have opened recently, too.
International art dealer Phillips de Pury has relocated to a former postal depot on Howick Place where nine boutique flats are part of a design and arts centre.
Even Candy & Candy, developer of luxury homes for the super-rich, has moved from Knightsbridge to discreet new headquarters only moments from the Palace of Westminster.
The Land Securities scheme will transform scruffy streets around Victoria station. Construction is expected to start later this year on six new buildings, including a high-rise block of 205 flats and office towers. A new library and shopping precinct are also part of the mix.
Windswept Victoria Street has the train station at one end and Parliament Square at the other and so is the spine of the district. Tucked away in side roads are handsome Edwardian mansion blocks, some glorious Georgian town houses, purpose-built modern apartments and warehouse flats.
Value-for-money is another of Westminster’s draws. “It’s significantly cheaper than nearby Belgravia and other SW1 postcode neighbourhoods,” says Jenny Cobb of estate agent Daniel Cobb.
Prices start at about £400,000 for one-bedroom flats in popular newish developments such as Westminster Green, formerly Westminster Hospital, and New Palace Place, next to the new Home Office, both on Horseferry Road.
At 68 Vincent Square, a former police station has been redeveloped into 49 apartments, some overlooking the private garden square, one of London’s biggest.
Barratt has an option to redevelop Horseferry Road magistrate’s court, likely to become a reality in a couple of years. Meanwhile, the company is building 34 apartments at 10 Rochester Row, formerly a multistorey car park.
Prices start at £585,000 for 700sq ft one-bedroom flats and rise to £2.3 million for a grand duplex penthouse. There is underground parking and the façade of the building is an “art work” design of concentric circles engraved on to the cladding. Completion is due in 2010. Call 020 8326 7171.
Westminster meets Pimlico at Vauxhall Bridge Road, where “Westrovia”, a scheme of 27 apartments, is nearing completion.
Curvy and low-rise, its architecture is deliberately restrained so as not to fight for attention with listed St James the Less church and Lillington Gardens, a well-regarded Sixties-built council estate, also listed, where right-to-buy resales can be picked up from about £300,000. Westrovia prices range from £375,000 to £1.2 million. Call DTZ on 020 7408 7509.
Just to the north is Westminster’s most vibrant and down-to-earth patch - the villagey hub around Wilton Road and Warwick Way. For years, this was held back by the close proximity of Victoria station but it is now smartening up.
A street market still operates and small independent shops are replacing chain stores. Flats have been built above a new Sainsbury’s, collectively known as Pimlico Place (resales from about £400,000), while Tachbrook Triangle is a recently completed scheme of 39 flats and a dozen new houses.
The conservation area behind Tate Britain at Millbank is worth exploring. Hamptons International is selling a four-bedroom town house in Ponsonby Place for £1.175 million, while at the former Foreign and Commonwealth Office on Matthew Parker Street, a three-bedroom apartment is on the market for £1.495 million. Call 020 7834 4771.