Modern village near designer gear heaven at Bicester
Bicester, in Oxfordshire, is perhaps most famous for the discount designer outlet on the edge of town, but the area attracts more than buyers seeking a fashion bargain.
The wider Cherwell district is a designated “growth area”, with businesses relocating there and 3,000 homes being built, including a new neighbourhood at the former Ministry of Defence site at Graven Hill.
Bicester town centre has had a £70million facelift, and the road and rail network is being upgraded. Bicester sits near the M40 and by 2016, the 55-minute train time to Marylebone station will be reduced by 15 minutes.
Kingsmere is a new “settlement”, or modern village, where a broad range of community facilities and amenities are planned, including a pub, primary school, GP surgery, shops and sports park. Developer Countryside Properties has released a new phase of homes from £225,000. Call 01277 260000.
Big appeal of small homes in Blackheath Village
Studio flats are back in fashion with designer space-saving interiors. Falconwood Court in Blackheath Village is a refurbishment of a Sixties hotel annexe, providing 36 studios (typically 390sq ft) in gated grounds with secure parking.
Every centimetre has to earn its keep. Beds fold away, dining tables pull down, one wall of each studio is lined with floor-to-ceiling wardrobes, and a lacquered shelving unit divides sleeping and living areas. From £295,000. Call 020 7620 1500.
Property consultant Savills reports growing demand in London and other world cities for much smaller flats. Research director Yolande Barnes says more singles and couples live in London than ever before, while the longer working day and high travel fares are driving people to live closer to the office.
Other factors include the spread of 24/7 convenience stores, the takeaway food culture and lifestyle coffee shops, all of which have lessened reliance on the home as a place to dwell, while micro gadgetry - laptops, electronic books and wall-mounted slimline televisions - curtail the need for storage.
Courtyard complex homes to covet in Kensington
With much of Kensington listed and conservation groups keeping guard, there appear to be few chances to squeeze new homes into the royal borough. Yet developers unlock sites each year as businesses, hospitals and colleges move where land costs less.
Housebuilder Berkeley and insurance giant Prudential are bringing 339 flats to a prominent corner site, once offices, at 375 Kensington High Street. It is the area’s biggest housing scheme for decades, a complex of courtyard apartment blocks, with spa, private cinema and concierge services. From £1.74million. Call 020 7720 4000.
Waterside homes in Alperton’s new family neighbourhood
Alperton, that unsung district in north-west London, has hidden assets - in the shape of the Grand Union Canal and fast Tube links to the West End.
A local B&Q superstore is about to be transformed into 441 homes alongside the canal as part of a Brent council masterplan to create a family neighbourhood, complete with a new school and shops, health centre and business premises.
One of Alperton’s neighbours is Wembley, while another is the giant Park Royal industrial estate - only six miles from Charing Cross, and the main distribution centre for goods coming into London.
The new apartments at 243 Ealing Road are spread across seven contemporary buildings linked by courtyard gardens, to include an orchard and play areas. Completion is scheduled for 2015, and there will be an on-site car club, café and community space.
Alperton Tube station, on the Piccadilly line, is a 200-metre walk from the development. Prices from £187,000. Call 020 8997 3373.
De-stress in new Docklands skyscraper
Providence Tower is the first of several new skyscrapers due in Docklands over the next few years.
A short walk from the Canary Wharf dealing rooms, the 43-storey building is part of an 8.5-acre development that offers a new level of amenities for stressed-out bankers - an on-site athletics track, boxing ring, 25-metre swimming pool and spa plus a glass-walled sky lounge for residents and their guests. There are also concierge services and valet parking. Prices from £422,000. Call Ballymore on 0800 954 5425.