London's thriving street markets appeal to homebuyers

London's fabulous food markets have become a magnet for buyers of new homes
Street markets in London are a centuries-old phenomenon, part of the vibrancy of city street life and the social glue created where people meet and chat. Today people can still develop long-term friendships with street traders, while markets remain places where you can find a bargain and buy local produce.

Borough Market
© Alamy
Borough Market is one of the capital’s busiest visitor attractions and has helped to propel property values in the SE1 postcode

London’s markets are enjoying a major revival and are proving a magnet for homebuyers who can see the appeal of living close by. With urban regeneration programmes in full swing across the city, it seems every up-and-coming area and fashionable neighbourhood has a farmers’ market, an antiques market or a flower or craft market.

Some are spontaneous pop-ups, while others are revitalised centuries-old markets (such as Spitalfields). New ones include Rathbone Market, part of a 650-home scheme in Canning Town. And there are sensationally successful food markets — Borough Market in particular —that spill over with saffron paella shops, shimmering displays of fish, freshly baked bread, charcuterie, fruit, homemade pies and sausages and countless tiny pop-up shops, wine bars and cafés.

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John Ennis, director of estate agent Foxtons, says: “Markets are really boosting property values. Years ago, there were only a few — Portobello, Covent Garden and Camden Lock — plus some rougher working-class street markets but London is now more like Paris, where neighbourhoods have a distinct character and identity.”

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London Farmers’ Markets runs more than 20 certified markets across the capital spanning areas as varied as Balham and Brixton, Parliament Hill and Parsons Green. With these markets traders have to come from within 100 miles of the M25 and all their produce must be grown by them.

Borough Market is one of the capital’s busiest visitor attractions and has helped to propel property values in the SE1 postcode, where prices have trebled since 2000.

A bustling weekend market in warehouses and railway arches along nearby Maltby Street, Bermondsey, is a spillover from Borough Market. What was a slightly off-pitch commercial patch is now a coveted residential address. Bermondsey Central, a new apartment scheme edging the railway, has given momentum to gentrification. Prices from £320,000. A two-bedroom duplex penthouse with huge terrace facing the City skyscrapers costs £725,000. Call Stirling Ackroyd on 020 7940 3888.

Also on Maltby Street, housing association L&Q is building Century House, a development of 154 apartments, a mix of private sale and shared ownership. Call 0844 406 9000.

Homes in such locations are so hot that Savills is inviting bids on a number of period-architecture apartments at Spitalfields Market in east London. The two- and three-bedroom homes are part of the market’s 19th-century structure and sit above trendy shops on Brushfield Street and Lamb Street.

Maltby Street Saturday Market
© Graham Jepson
Maltby Street Saturday Market stocks everything from smoked salmon to biscuits and cakes
“We received 60 enquiries on the first day the properties were launched and the calls have been flooding in since,” says Zak James. “The apartments need complete renovation. But many of the period features are in situ and the flats come with new 100-year leases.” Savills has suggested guide prices starting at £360,000 but final bids, due by 3pm on October 25, 2012, are expected to be well above this.

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Marylebone has become an irresistible hot spot for shoppers with its imaginative foodie stores and owner-run boutiques. Its transformation has made it a top address. The market on Moxon Street provides a sense of “village” and is also a community hub, says Martin Bikhit of local estate agent Kay & Co. But it has become a victim of its own success.

The market occupies a car park site just behind Waitrose and is such a prized development plot that Westminster council is putting it up for sale. The one-acre site has potential for more than 100 flats.

In 1966 the land was bought under slum clearance powers by the council from Howard de Walden Estate, which has made no secret it would like to buy back the site for a mixed-use scheme.

Market moves

World-famous Portobello Road, which has had a market since the 1860s, winds north from now-rich and bohemian Notting Hill to gritty Kensal Town. The north-south divide is accentuated by the physical barrier of the Westway elevated motorway, but this is changing as the money filters north. Portobello Green, right under the motorway, is an arcade of small specialist fashion shops, a jumping-off point for young designers.

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£1.99 million: new four-bedroom houses at Trinity Church Terrace, just moments away from fashionable Borough Market
The area has been winning new fans since Stella McCartney set up her “atelier” in a former chapel on Golborne Road, heralding the neighbourhood’s “arrival”. Young professionals have moved into 31- storey Trellick Tower, the love-it-or-loathe-it listed concrete apartment block that looms over the area, and gentrification is continuing as greasy spoons and discount shops give way to boutiques and bistros.

Portobello Square is a new address that seeks to reinvent a “lost” neighbourhood by reinstating the area’s original Victorian street pattern with demolition of a Seventies council estate. The first phase of 324 private and shared-ownership properties is due for completion in 2013.

Meanwhile, 20 new shops are being built on Portobello Road. Prices from £457,500. Currently, values lag 30 per cent behind homes a 10-minute walk south, in the heart of Notting Hill, according to estate agent Hamptons International. Call 020 7758 8478.

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Homes at Park Row
£575,000: new-build three-bedroom homes with garages and off-street parking at Park Row, Clapham, near Venn Street Market
Brixton Village is a lively arcade-style market on Electric Avenue winning plaudits for its diverse range of high-quality food outlets. Bordering this is Brixton Square, a 107-home scheme being built by Barratt. Prices from £265,000. Call 020 7231 5258.

Columbia Road, a street of mainly Victorian shops and terraces, is transformed every Sunday by the blooms and foliage of the famous flower market. It has caused ripples along the Bethnal Green and Shoreditch border towards Redchurch Street, now a trendy hub with eateries, galleries and fashion boutiques. Property values here are touching £1,000 a square foot —unthinkable a couple of years ago.

Ixia on East Road is a development of 48 apartments and has a distinctive façade of anodised aluminium gliding shutters. Prices from £389,950. Call Hurford Salvi Carr on 020 7250 1012.

New Covent Garden Market at Nine Elms, a riverside hotspot, will become a 2,491-home residential complex with a permanent new market called The Garden Heart. This will be a major attraction with space for 100 pitches and stalls. Time to buy.

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