London's new-build homes are getting greener: gardens and allotments are going sky-high as the capital becomes a vertical city

Londoners demand the best of both worlds — a smart city flat and a great outside space. Developers are enlisting the help of big name landscape gardeners...

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For six months of the year most Londoners living in flats scarcely give a thought to having a garden. Come spring, however, “access to a garden” tops home seekers’ wish lists. 

Developers are realising that proper outdoor space — rather than concessionary corridors of grass or tiny winter gardens — sells homes. Some are even hiring celebrity gardeners and landscape architects to curate eye-catching communal spaces. 

Communal gardens for city living

Ben Babington, director of residential development for London at Jackson-Stops & Staff, says the tough property market has encouraged developers to invest in better outdoor space because,  like gyms and leisure rooms, it is what buyers want, especially big spenders.

James Hyman, head of residential agency at Cluttons, agrees: “There is a real renaissance in communal gardens. Developers are realising that they can set the tone for a development, and that residents really like them, even if all they do is walk through them on their way to work in the morning. And they are good air filters.”

Of course, garden maintenance has to be paid for and that comes out of the service charge. But developers say it is worth the investment, as it could add 10 per cent to the resale price.

Garden flats near key London transport hubs

At Highwood Gardens, the latest phase of the jumbo Elephant & Castle regeneration zone, the residents’ spaces come with communal allotments. There will also be a terrace for yoga classes. Prices at West Grove start at £540,000 (elephantpark.co.uk).

Residents of the 470 flats at Keybridge, by Mount Anvil and Fabrica by A2Dominion in Vauxhall, will be able to retreat from the noise of building Nine Elms to an acre of private garden, with abstract sculptures by Tom Price and a water feature designed to commemorate the lost River Effra which once ran through the site.

One-bedroom flats start at £725,000, and two-bedroom flats at £865,000 (knightfrank.co.uk). Moving-in starts this year, with Keybridge completed by the end of 2019.

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From £540,000: flats at HighwoodGardensin West Grove, the latest Elephant Park phase in SE17

Circular roof garden at King's Cross

Gasholders London, the transformation of the Victorian gas holders at King’s Cross into 145 flats, includes a circular roof garden for residents with spectacular 360-degree views of the London skyline. 

Chelsea Flower Show Gold winner Dan Pearson designed it to be an outside room with timber seats, tables and huge planters of mostly native, nectar-rich species to attract bees. The feel is casual, with wild flowers and grasses.

The development completes in the autumn, and apartments start from £810,000 (gasholderslondon.co.uk).

Garden starchitects

Just as there are starchitects, so there are star landscape architects and gardeners. Developer Lodha UK hired Gustafson Porter, which designed the Diana, Princess of Wales memorial in Hyde Park to create the courtyard garden for its Lincoln Square development (lincolnsquare.co.uk). It’s a traditional and peaceful space with ornamental trees, lawn, abundant flowers and seating areas. At 9,000sq ft, the garden will give lovely views to overlooking homes and will be shared by residents of 202 properties when the scheme is finished in early 2019.

Homes at Lincoln Square, tucked just behind the Royal Courts of Justice, start from £990,000.

At Bart’s Square, the reboot of St Bartholomew’s Hospital at Smithfield, the garden is a secluded escape from the Square Mile, with a central water feature and trees for screening. Due to complete this summer, from £790,000 for one-bedroom flats (savills.co.uk).

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£950,000: two-bedroom flats at EcoWorld and Ballymore's Wardian London tower in E14, where every home has its own sky garden

Botanical gardens in Canary Wharf

At Ballymore and EcoWorld’s Wardian London development in Canary Wharf, even the name is botanical — a Wardian case is a glass container used to grow or transport plants.  

Every flat has a sky garden, there are sunken gardens outside the building and full-size trees growing in the lobby, while there will be two shared sky gardens, the highest 55 storeys above ground. More than 100 species of exotic plants will be used at the building. 

The latest tranche of homes at Wardian London has just launched, from £617,500 for studio flats, £736,000 for one-bedroom flats, and £950,000 for two-bedroom flats, some with private terrace gardens cared for by an on-site gardener. First residents will move in during 2019 (wardianlondon.com).

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From £3.5 million: townhouses near the Thames at FulhamRiverside

The roof garden at Barratt London’s Fulham Riverside development in SW6 (pictured above) was recently named Britain’s best at the annual Bali National Landscape Awards. This tranquil oasis on top of a Sainsbury’s superstore boasts more than 6,600 plants, 108 trees, and 1,000 yards of box hedging. It has a 10ft waterfall, an outdoor gym, badminton court, and even a decorative maze.

Four- and five-bedroom townhouses in Central Avenue, Fulham Riverside, start at £3.5 million, with a new phase of flats due for spring release. Details at barratthomes.co.uk.


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