Crown Estate gives the silver a polish
Having nearly completed its amazing makeover of Regent Street, the Crown Estate is switching its focus to nearby St James's. Over the next 10 years, a £500 million revamp will double the number of homes there, injecting life into a currently dead zone by Pall Mall and transforming the scruffy patch around Haymarket, which is presently dominated by souvenir shops and chain restaurants. The plan is to draw people south towards Waterloo Place and delightful Carlton House Terrace.
20 Jermyn Street is the first new development. One- and two-bedroom apartments have been built behind a listed façade and come with the bonus of a 125-year Crown Estate lease. Prices from £1.85 million. A number of apartments are available for rent, at 15 Jermyn Street, from £700 a week. Call WA Ellis (020 7306 1654).
Hotels, moorings, art galleries and 800 homes on the Gillingham waterfront in Kent
Victory Pier on the Gillingham waterfront is part of an ambitious regeneration of Kent's historic Medway towns — a project aiming to transform eight miles of riverfront into an 8,000-home "linear city". Having 780 listed buildings and 26 conservation areas, the Medway towns are lobbying for Unesco World Heritage status.
Docklands-style living is available at an affordable price. This residential and retail scheme on the site of a former chemical works will have 800 homes, a hotel, moorings and a floating art gallery. Help to Buy, the Government's lowdeposit scheme, is available at Marina Heights, the latest phase. Prices from £114,950. Call 01634 565000 or visit victorypier.com
Ultra-urbanites are being wooed by leafy Ealing
Anyone who bought into areas along the Crossrail route five years ago is a lot wealthier today. Transport upgrades are a big driver in the property market, yet home buyers often wake up late in the day to the bonus of better Tube and train links.
With Crossrail now clearly on the radar, investors are queuing up to buy in previously unexciting areas such as Farringdon and Aldgate. And home buyers are putting down roots in outer London areas where Crossrail will have an impact.
Ealing is in the spotlight because of a town-centre building boom — retail and residential. Crossrail will slash journey times into central London to only 15 minutes and give a 20 per cent boost to house prices in this west London suburb, according to property consultant GVA.
Developers believe fashionable apartment living will attract urbanites who previously shunned this leafy suburb. Dickens Yard is a scheme of 698 new flats, some with huge terraces, set around new public squares and pedestrianised lanes being brought to life with shops, restaurants, markets and street theatre.
"Skyline apartments" priced from £749,950 have been launched. Homes come with a package of hotel-type extras — a smart entrance foyer with 24-hour concierge, underground parking and residents-only spa. And the scheme dovetails with surrounding heritage buildings, including Ealing's gothic-style town hall, a Victorian church and a fine Thirties fire station. Call developer St George (020 8568 1100).
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Ride the elephant - the views are London's best
Elephant and Castle will look very different in a few years' time when a cluster of residential towers will have replaced the ugly shopping centre that has dominated the area since the Sixties.
Developer Lend Lease recently started ground works at One the Elephant, the first of the new skyscrapers. Demolition of Heygate council estate is making way for 3,000 new homes and central London's largest new park for 70 years.
With improvements finally under way, Elephant and Castle is attracting homebuyers as well as investors. It remains the cheapest location in Zone 1, half the price of homes on the Southwark waterfront, less than a mile away.
Elephant and Castle's panoramic north-facing views are among the best in London. Resourceful developers are creating penthouses on top of existing apartment blocks, such as the one at South Central — a spectacular 2,150sq ft space with four-metre high ceilings and a huge terrace. Price £1.4 million. Call Caddington Blue on 020 7117 6985.