Coming back from a summer break and returning to work is always more exciting if you have decided to go on a house hunt.
The autumn new homes launches across London and the commuter belt offer a wider and bigger choice of properties than at any time since the onset of the credit crunch two years ago.
There are plenty of design surprises such as floor-to-ceiling panels of glass to allow light to flood into drawing rooms, eco-friendly elements and thoughtful use of space.
The number of new private homes being built in the capital jumped during the second quarter of 2009 as developers restarted projects in the belief that the residential market is stabilising. Work began on 5,260 homes, the highest figure since 2005.
Unmissable launches in the capital
Don’t miss Bramah House, 110 striking, modern flats on the Pimlico waterfront and designed by “starchitect” Ken Shuttleworth, or the luxury five-bedroom family houses on a riverside estate in Richmond.
Plus there is the conversion of a listed building in Connaught Place, opposite Hyde Park, into 10 boutique apartments, and 115 new homes in a classic Islington garden square. There are also 57 canalside apartments at the Ink Building in North Kensington and new “super penthouses” overlooking the Thames in Battersea and Fulham.
Out of London, an estimated 87,190 new homes were started in England during the 12 months to June 2009, according to the Department for Communities and Local Government, although this figure is still 53 per cent below the peak of 2005-06 and little more than a third of the Government’s target of 240,000 new homes a year.
Developers are keen to go eco-friendly and are switching their construction focus away from flats to houses, following the collapse of the buy-to-let market. Parkviews, a redevelopment of former St Ebbas Hospital in Epsom, Surrey, is the biggest scheme to get off the ground in the Home Counties since 2006. These contemporary-designed eco-homes have up to four bedrooms. Prices will be released later this month. Call Crest Nicholson on 0870 751 3958.
These launches coincide with New Homes Week (12-20 September), a revived industry event trumpeting the benefits of buying brand new. “Our surveys show that nine out of 10 people still firmly believe that buying their own home is a sensible investment but last year was just too challenging for them,” says David Pretty, chairman of the New Homes Marketing Board. “Prices have dropped and there are some fantastic deals out there. People can visit the show homes and see for themselves.”
Ready to launch
Once an aristocratic estate and then a campus for Brunel University, Richmond Lock is a leafy 14-acre walled enclave of 200 homes comprising Victorian-style villas, town houses and apartments set in courtyards and landscaped squares.
The site is bordered by a Thames-side promenade, while Richmond town centre is a 10-minute walk away via a pedestrian bridge across the river. New five-bedroom family houses form The Grand Terrace, built alongside a listed mansion.
The three- and four-storey homes have garages and driveways and look over formal gardens with reflecting pools and ornate fountains. Octagon, the developer, has designed family-friendly interiors with good quality finishes - bespoke kitchens, marble bathrooms and stone floors. Prices are from £1.35million; call Featherstone Leigh (020 8744 4320).
If you want to live in the centre of London, you cannot get much closer to the action than living at Four Connaught Gardens. This period refurbishment is seconds from Marble Arch, in the conservation area where Tony Blair lives.
An imposing portico entrance provides a grand sense of arrival. Ten apartments ranging from 614-2,260 sq ft have tastefully restrained interior design.
Ornate plasterwork is mixed with modern finishes - high ceilings, oak floors, limestone bathrooms, white lacquered kitchens and air conditioning. Prices range from £525,000 to £3million. Call Knight Frank on 020 7173 4999.
The Bear Pit is a well-located scheme of 25 apartments on buzzing Bankside, right next to the Globe Theatre and Tate Modern. Some flats have river views. The “sport” of bear baiting used to take place on the site in Elizabethan times, hence the name. Prices are from £350,000 to £2.5million. Call Estate agent Frank Harris on 020 7620 3400.
Towering glory: new flats at Battersea
Dramatic riverscapes and bold, contemporary design prompted architects Gianfranco and Cheryl Cipolla (right) to buy a two-bedroom apartment at Battersea Reach.
Glass-and-steel towers slope towards the river and provide splendid views from huge curved terraces and angular balconies.
“It’s instantly recognisable and stands out from the crowd,” says Mr Cipolla. “Floor-to-ceiling glazing floods our apartment with natural light. You rarely get this, even on new developments.”
Some riverside schemes are soulless, but not this one, he adds. Waterfront community essentials are part of the mix - a pub, restaurant, patisserie, health club and business centre - while open public areas add vitality.
A new phase of 40 flats, including a spectacular penthouse at the top of a 17-storey tower, has been released by developer St George Homes. Prices from £470,000. Call 020 7978 4141.