London's new inner-city villages: Victoria, Covent Garden and Fitzrovia

The capital's newest landlords have learned a thing or two from the city's great family landowners, discovers David Spittles
* City development masterplans are creating well-balanced central London districts with a good mix of shops, businesses and homes — to buy or rent

* New inner-city villages are emerging in Victoria, Covent Garden and Fitzrovia; the latest residential schemes include Kingsgate House, formerly Westminster city council town hall; The Russell in Covent Garden; and Rathbone Lofts in Fitzrovia

62 Buckingham Gate
Land Securities is replacing the grey postwar office blocks that have blighted Victoria station's neighbouring streets with exciting new architecture, including 62 Buckingham Gate

A new breed of landlord is taking a lead from the old aristocratic landowners who turned places such as Belgravia, Chelsea and Marylebone into such sought-after areas in which to live.

The new landlords are City giants: property companies, such as Derwent, Land Securities and Capco, which have been buying land and buildings, sometimes over decades, as part of a masterplan to create well-balanced districts with a good mix of shops, businesses and homes — to buy or rent.

Town planners call it “place-making”. A triumphant example is the 67-acre King’s Cross Central, where developer Argent is building a new district on once-blighted railway land — 50 new buildings, 2,000 new homes, 20 new streets, 10 new public squares, a place where, eventually, 45,000 people will live and work.

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The Russell
£4.95 million: three-bedroom flat at The Russell, Covent Garden
Property values are increasing in line with the area’s new status, but are still below those of other addresses in the prized SW1 postcode. Coming soon are 100 apartments at redeveloped Kingsgate House, formerly Westminster city council town hall. Call 020 7413 9000.

Other new developments in the area include The Courthouse in Horseferry Road — prices from £640,000, call DTZ on 020 3296 4044 — and Abell & Cleland in Page Street, with prices from £1.8 million, call Berkeley Homes on 020 7720 4000. Visit landsecurities.com.

Covent Garden: lively and quirky


For many people, Covent Garden is the beating heart of the capital: lively, quirky and individual, it buzzes with the excitement of opera, ballet and theatre and the showmanship of its world-famous piazza which attracts 45 million visitors a year.

For the first time since the closure of the historic fruit and vegetable market in 1974, a collection of new homes directly overlooking the piazza is on offer. Several heritage buildings will become homes in the listed colonnade market and the dozens of surrounding buildings that developer Capco swooped to buy in 2006 — one of the smartest property acquisitions of recent decades. With 60 buildings and 380 individual premises under its control, Capco seized the opportunity to take Covent Garden upmarket.

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Fitzroy Place
From £900,000: 237 new flats, by Exemplar and Aviva, are being built around a new public square at Fitzroy Place, Mortimer Street
Formerly of aristocratic property giant Grosvenor, she learned there the important skill of managing communities and played a big part in turning Belgravia’s Pimlico Road, Elizabeth Street and Ebury Street into pleasurable destinations.

Apartments at The Henrietta, overlooking the Piazza, have broken through the £2,000-a-square-foot barrier. Another Piazza scheme called The Russell has been unveiled — prices from £4.9 million, call 020 7420 3050 — and coming soon is The Beecham, formerly a Lloyds Bank and Pizza Hut.

One major development project is a 50-home residential and retail scheme between Long Acre and King Street. This will open up listed courtyards and create a pedestrian walkway across Floral Street to the Piazza. With better-quality homes on offer, the area is attracting bigger budgets from abroad but the buyers who really drive the market are “Londoners aged 50-plus who are not short of cash and who like to live a bit”, according to local estate agent EA Shaw. Visit capco.com.

Rathbone Lofts
£1.5 million: two-bedroom loft at Rathbone Lofts, Fitzrovia

Fitzrovia: catching up fast


Derwent owns 5.4 million square feet of property across 19 “villages”. One is Fitzrovia, where it owns 20 buildings and has a plan to create a new shopping, office and residential quarter.

Starting in 2015, Derwent London will commence the redevelopment of advertising agency Saatchi & Saatchi's Charlotte Street offices.

Fitzroy Place, formerly Middlesex Hospital, has 237 flats in blocks grouped around a new public garden square. From £900,000. Call 020 7182 2477.

View houses and flats for sale in Fitzrovia
Rathbone Lofts is a handsome brick-façade building, originally a police station, with warehouse-style interiors. “They have struck a chord with local creatives,” said Laurence Glynne of estate agent LDG, which is selling a two-bedroom loft for £1.5 million. Call 020 7580 1010 or visit derwentlondon.com

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