The contemporary new-build homes that are keeping families in London

The latest well designed new-build homes are encouraging Londoners to regenerate the inner city with family-friendly communities instead of fleeing to commuter land.
A decade ago, new-build houses in London were an endangered species, with fewer than 1,100 under construction, including just 155 in inner boroughs. Today almost 9,000 new houses are in the pipeline and many are ready to move into right now.

This remarkable turnaround is due mainly to a change in planning priorities, aimed at reversing the exodus of families from the capital and promoting more balanced communities, according to industry analyst Molior.

Developers have had to fall in line and to their delight have discovered huge, unsatisfied demand for well-designed houses in well-connected parts of town. Housing associations are boosting the numbers, too, making new houses available on a cheaper, shared-ownership basis.

All this is particularly welcome news for young couples planning to have children and who might otherwise have fled to commuter land.

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From £999,000:
Notting Hill Housing Trust is building four-bedroom houses at The Exchange in Bermondsey

Designed for lifestyle
Modern lifestyles are shaping the design of this new generation of houses, marking a decisive shift away from the traditional idea of the house as a box with rigidly defined rooms for sleeping, eating and relaxing.

Glamorous and aspirational new homes of contemporary design are often surprisingly affordable because they are built on run-down plots in gritty, inner-city neighbourhoods that family buyers are helping to revitalise by clamouring for better schools, libraries, parks and shops.

Whether opting for a boldly architectural house or a Victorian or Georgian lookalike, most buyers want their new property to have exciting design elements, and to chime with the way they live. Often this boils down to homes with light-filled, open-plan interiors - especially a kitchen-cum-family hub space - manageable gardens, roof terraces and bedrooms with luxury en suite bathrooms.

The wish list might also extend to audiovisual treats such as a home cinema and iPod docks, and “green” features - perhaps  solar heating or rainwater collection. Developers now take all of these desires much more seriously than they used to.

Many older period houses are tall and narrow and lack good-quality living space. Formal drawing rooms tend to be for special occasions, not everyday use, and are therefore wasteful of space, while the interaction between house and garden is poor. “A lot of families want a house that has the hallmarks of a loft, in open, dramatic and contemporary style. So they are bypassing gentrified terraces in favour of wow-factor new-builds,” says Albert Hill of niche estate agent Modern House.

Replacing a single-storey shed on a tight plot at the junction of three roads and backing on to a railway cutting, a pair of new houses in Holloway shows how good architecture can make the most of a seemingly unpromising urban setting. 
The four-bedroom “hand-made” homes on Stapleton Hall Road have interconnecting rooms with overlapping uses arranged around a central double-height space, an ingenious “butterfly” design that permits the generosity of seven levels.

Externally, the red-brick façade  and steeped pitch roof melds harmoniously with the Victorian surroundings, while the distinctive, double-arched entrance with a “stoop” staircase, an architectural  device associated with American houses to encourage people to linger at the threshold, adds to the public life of the street.

Solidspace, the architect-developer, says this reinvention of the London townhouse provokes “a radical rethink of how we measure the value of a property — in volume rather than mere floorspace”. Prices from £1,295,000. Call 020 7704 3504.

Mega regeneration
While many more such small-scale projects on complex urban plots are needed, council planners are insisting on mega regeneration schemes to create entire new neighbourhoods.

Modern four- and five-bedroom townhouses with private gardens and  secure garage parking are part of Lillie Square, the first phase of the giant Earls Court exhibition centre redevelopment.
As well as 7,500 new homes, the wider development will bring offices, shops and community facilities including a high street public library  and residents’ clubhouse with spa, and will add 23 acres to the public realm by reclaiming wasteland. First completions are due in 2016. Visit the marketing suite or call 020 7381 9800.
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Tapestry townhouses in King's Cross start at £2 million

Modern elegance
Tapestry is a scheme of sleek, modern houses with double-height space and sky gardens at King’s Cross Central, the transformation of blighted railway land behind the station. Prices from £2 million. Call Knight Frank on 020 7861 5499.
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From £2.6 million: houses in London Square in Fulham feature basement patio gardens
A new private garden square with 40 Georgian-style townhouses in densely packed Fulham is another arrival. The architecture of the two-acre London Square site, once a stableyard, is inspired by elegant Wellington Square, off King’s Road in Chelsea. At its heart are formal communal gardens overlooked by imposing houses with large front doors and railings.
Houses range from 1,400sq ft to 4,000sq ft and rise to five storeys, with light-filled basements opening on to patio gardens. At the heart of each house is a feature oak-and-glass staircase, surrounded by an open- plan living space. The square will be traffic-free when completed later this year, with direct access to the houses from underground garages. Prices from £2.6 million. Call 0333 666 2737.

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From £4.25 million:
homes at West Village in Notting Hill. Call 020 7318 4677
The West Village, in Notting Hill, brings nine houses priced from £4.25 million. Call Strutt & Parker on 020 7318 4677.
Tucked away off busy Baker Street in Marylebone are five modern townhouses, thoughtfully designed by young architectural firm Piercy & Company, whose priority was to bring natural light into the homes and provide flexible space. Set over four storeys, each home has an internal glass-walled lightwell and an integral garage. From £3.95 million. Call Druce on 020 7935 6535.

Keeping down the costs
Modern Zone 1 townhouses do not have to cost a fortune, according to Notting Hill Housing trust, which in mid-May launches four-bedroom properties at The Exchange, Bermondsey. Prices from £999,000. Call 020 8357 4444.
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Travel deeper into south-east London to find some of the cheapest new townhouses. Vision Mews, in fast-gentrifying East Dulwich, is a gated scheme of  houses with an open-plan ground-floor family space that unites with the garden via a wall of folding glass doors. From £925,000. Call Cluttons on 020 7407 3669.
At The Old Dairy, SW16, new 1,648sq ft houses with attic-style master bedrooms featuring high ceilings are priced from £749,950. Call Bellway on 0845 548 3004.

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