Spring sees the launch of London’s latest new garden squares, to coincide with Mayor Boris Johnson’s celebration of the city’s "Great Outdoors" and a new initiative from the Royal Institute of British Architects, which is sponsoring a "forgotten spaces" competition to promote the imaginative re-use of neglected open areas.
Garden squares are among London’s treasures. About 600 of them are sprinkled across the capital, including historic public areas such as Lincoln’s Inn Fields in Bloomsbury, and tenderly cared-for community spaces tucked away in unlikely pockets of the East End.
Now one fledgling developer - called London Square - aims to use traditional garden-square architecture as a building template. "Classic London residential squares strike a chord with people. It’s to do with the scale, style, sense of place and community - there’s something timeless about them," says its chief executive Adam Lawrence. The first project, in south-west London, will be unveiled later this year (londonsquare.co.uk).
Similar design principles have been adopted by St James at Queen Mary’s Place in leafy Roehampton where a new phase of three- and four-storey town houses overlooking a landscape square launches next weekend. This 14-acre estate of 450 homes is set in listed walled gardens and has a prized 18th-century mansion at its centre.
Homes at Audley Gardens, the latest release, are traditional-looking on the outside but have modern, space-efficient interiors of up to 1,789sq ft. Prices start at £749,950. Call 020 8246 6748.
Nils and Anne Nessim moved to Queen Mary’s Place from Battersea. Being busy career professionals (Nils works for a wealth management company in Mayfair and Anne runs her own internet media business), dog owners and keen cyclists, the couple wanted a home that ticked all their boxes: a low-maintenance property with architectural character and a design edge, a garden and close to the wide open spaces of Richmond.
Regeneration of Myatts Fields, Stockwell, will create one of the largest new parks in London outside the Olympics zone. This neglected patch will also get 808 new homes, allotments and a showpiece community centre with a café, crèche and an IT suite built "under" the park, with a sloping glass roof to maximise solar gain. Maisonettes, flats and houses for rent, sale and shared ownership are due for completion next year. Visit prparchitects.co.uk.
Arundel Square in Islington used to have a "missing" fourth side, a vacant plot where a bus depot once stood alongside terraces of handsome early Victorian town houses. After an ambitious engineering project, the square is now complete again.
New flats are reached via a road, gated at each end, which runs across the fourth side of the square. Buyers can choose from 32 different layouts, ranging from studios to duplexes to penthouses, most with a decent-size balcony or terrace. Wide floor-to-ceiling glass panels maximise views of the square. Prices from £285,000 for a one-bedroom flat. Call Chesterton Humberts on 020 7288 0330.
Mayfair’s secret gardens
Mayfair’s two main squares - Grosvenor and Berkeley - are open to the public but there are three private gardens accessible only via the buildings that surround them.
"Only 75 homes have access to Green Street Gardens, South Street Gardens and Culross Street Gardens, making this a very exclusive benefit," says estate agent Peter Wetherell. "They are tranquil places and little used because there are few families."
But privacy here costs: a 7,000sq ft mansion on Green Street that backs on to the courtyard gardens is for sale at £16million. Call 020 7529 5566.