London's new homes with 'city gardens':flats and family houses near public parks and commons are being launched for the summer

The city's parks and commons are the capital's village greens, with homes overlooking green spaces commanding a price premium. But affordable properties are springing up alongside parks and even within some of them - often as part of wider regeneration programmes. 

London has more green space than most world cities. As well as eight immaculate Royal Parks with ornamental and boating lakes, there are thousands of acres of heath and common land, 600 traditional garden squares, numerous public parks such as London Fields, plus nature reserves and well-kept community spaces tucked away in unlikely pockets of the inner city.

Being able to get away from the noise and pollution of busy roads into an open green space provides instant relief, and is crucial for young families. Every £1 invested in green space contributes £30 towards health and wellbeing, and £23 towards community safety, according to an independent survey commissioned by the Land Trust charity.

Homes overlooking parks do cost more, easily 20 per cent. But affordable properties are springing up alongside parks and even within some of them — often as part of wider regeneration programmes and attention to the natural environment, as city planners promote clean air and the amenity value of open spaces. 

The new riverside district being built between Vauxhall and Battersea Park promises a “green corridor” running through it, while the new 3,385-home Royal Wharf in Docklands incorporates three parks and an on-site gym.

London Mayor Boris Johnson’s Great Outdoors initiative is aimed at improving the quality of 80 neighbourhoods in the capital, while the Royal Institute of British Architects sponsors a “forgotten spaces” competition for the imaginative re-use and adaptation of neglected plots, encouraging designers to work with local groups and residents wherever possible.

Increasingly, too, developers are targeting parkland sites on the fringes of London where listed convents, hospitals, colleges and country mansions are the centrepiece.

At Royal Connaught Park in Bushey, Hertfordshire, originally the Royal Masonic School for Boys, homes have been created in the grand Edwardian buildings, and new ones, designed to be in keeping, have been built in the landscaped grounds. Prices from £525,000. Call 01923 222 292.

Wimbledon Hill Park, on the site of a former hospital, is a 25-acre walled estate with 94 homes next to wonderful Wimbledon Common, which stretches all the way to Putney Vale. Prices are high — from £1,050,00. Call 020 8003 6139.

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From £1.05 million: 27 luxurious apartments have been created at Wellington Row, Wimbledon Hill Park, on a former hospital site next to Wimbledon Common


London's commons

“Commons are London’s village greens,” says Robin Chatwin of estate agent Savills. Families who opt to stay in London rely on park life.

When built in 1860, Thornton Place, overlooking 220-acre Clapham Common, was one of London’s smartest addresses, rivalling the mansion-lined streets of Kensington and Chelsea. Comprising a pair of classical French-style turreted buildings, each block had five individual residences with up to 12 bedrooms, spectacular 50ft-long drawing rooms and elaborate architectural detailing.

 

During the 20th century the buildings slipped into disrepair, despite being listed, ending up as a down-at-heel bed-and-breakfast hotel. But they have been restored and brought back to life as 32 apartments with high ceilings, marble fireplaces, parquet flooring and Corinthian columns. Quirky duplex penthouses with secluded roof terraces have been created in the Welsh-slated turrets. Prices from £750,000 to £2,975,000. Call 020 3428 2222.

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Flats from £429,950, houses from £1.15 million: Cambium in Southfields offeres eco-friendly homes, some with roof gardens, plus an urban meadow and play area

 

Harvard Gardens: flats near green spaces from £450,000

“Public parks are the garden for families who cannot afford one,” says Cathy Lloyd, director of developer L&Q, which has unveiled Harvard Gardens — 71 homes by Burgess Park, a 113-acre expanse running between Peckham and Walworth.

Recently upgraded, the park has a listed Victorian church, library and baths, almshouses and artisan cottages, a new lake and café, play and picnic areas, 90,000 new plants and trees, and a wildlife garden. 

The area, on the cusp of Zone 1, is a good hunting ground for cheaper homes close to central London. Flats at Harvard Gardens start at £450,000, and four-bedroom houses cost from £950,000. 

The same developer has launched Bolingbroke Park, Cockfosters, where two-bedroom flats cost from £475,750. Call 0333 0033 637.

Cambium, in Southfields, offers something fresh — distinctly modern and eco-friendly new-build townhouses designed around a 200-year old oak tree. The 110-home scheme includes an urban meadow and children’s play area. Some of the houses have rooftop gardens and garages. Flats cost from £429,950. Houses from £1.15 million. Call Lend Lease on 020 3817 7000.

For many decades, Embassy Works, next to Vauxhall Park, near the historic Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens, was a laundry. The warehouse complex has been converted into 39 loft apartments with exposed beams and brickwork. Prices from £450,000. Call Jackson-Stops & Staff on 020 7664 6649.

The Primrose Hill set

Earl Camden’s attempt in the late 18th century to make Primrose Hill a sort of Belgravia of north London was frustrated by the arrival of the Grand Union Canal and railways, which lowered the tone. The area went downhill and lost is cachet — until the latter part of the 20th century when it became fashionable again due to bohemian London getting rich.

Today it is a coveted neighbourhood of tree-lined avenues with stucco-fronted houses, popular with writers, actors and musicians. It has a “village” centre with bistros and boutiques. But the highlight is 110-acre Primrose Hill itself, which has a magnificent east-west panorama from the summit. 

Joseph and Davida Williams, both 37, discovered their Primrose Hill home while watching their son play in a  Sunday football match. 

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From £4 million: apartments at gated St. Edmund's Terrace, Primrose Hill


The couple noticed a hoarding for St Edmund’s Terrace, a luxury apartment development being built on the site of a former Thames Water reservoir and running alongside the Hill.

“It was pretty much there and then that we realised it was where we wanted to live and raise our two boys,” says Davida. “We had been renting in the area for nine years and enjoyed many hours in the park as a family, with no care in the world. We love the neighbourhood but didn’t want to buy a traditional four-storey townhouse where you spend a lot of time separated from your family, and walking up and down stairs.”

The gated scheme of 36 flats has three “pavilion” buildings linked by landscaped courtyards and a glass-covered walkway, below which is a spa complex with swimming pool and gym. Clad in Portland Stone and bronze, the stylish, modern architecture fits neatly into its leafy surroundings. 

The Williams’s new home is an open-plan, 3,000sq ft apartment with full-height glass walls that invite the outside in. Buyers pay a hefty sum for the pleasure of living here — from £4 million. Call 020 7861 5483.
 


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