* The transformation is being driven by the redevelopment of Art Deco Victoria coach station, turning the 10-acre site into a new "city quarter", with homes, shops and cultural venues
* Prime properties include Palace View; Abell & Cleland; Catherine Place and 20 Jermyn Street
The Queen has done rather well out of Buckingham Palace. When she came to the throne in 1952 the one-time townhouse of the Duke of Buckingham, built in 1705, with its 830,000sq ft of living space and 40 acres of landscaped gardens, was worth £11 million. Today it has a value of £1 billion. That’s a 9,000 per cent jump, according to the Nationwide Building Society.
The Palace gardens sit behind high security walls along Buckingham Palace Road, a surprisingly dreary street. Traffic jams and souvenir shops have lowered the tone of this busy thoroughfare dividing workaday Victoria from super-rich Belgravia, and probably nowhere else in London is there such a value gap either side of a main road.
The Victoria side of Buckingham Palace Road has always always been judged the wrong side of the tracks. Novelist Anthony Trollope understood this well: one of his fictional heroines was advised by a worldly guardian living in Belgravia to “avoid anywhere south of Eccleston Square”.
View houses and flats for sale in Victoria
Victoria train station: surrounding area gets facelift
A £2 billion facelift, spearheaded by property company Land Securities, is smartening up the area around Victoria train station. Victoria Street has been transformed, notably by the arrival of Cardinal Place shopping precinct, and the focus is on a blighted cluster of buildings forming a 5.5-acre island moments from the Palace.
Called Nova, the redeveloped site will bring five fresh buildings, including 205 flats, and create a new pedestrian link between a refurbished Victoria train station and the Royal Parks. Up to 800 new homes are being built in the wider area. Kings Gate, next to Westminster City Hall, will have 100 flats priced from £740,000. Call 020 7413 9000.
“Whereas Belgravia is as good as it gets, Victoria has room for improvement,” added Hawkins. “This is why we’re attracting City money. People know they are not buying at the top of the market.” Despite this, prices have raced ahead during the last three years, reaching £1,600 to £1,700 a square foot for new builds, such as apartments at a scheme called Abell & Cleland on Page Street. Call Berkeley Homes on 020 7720 4000.
Douglas House, backing on to Vincent Square, which has 13 acres of private playing fields owned by Westminster School, has been split into apartments priced from £1,495,000. Call Hamptons International on 020 7717 5315. Handsome red-brick Edwardian mansion blocks alongside Westminster Cathedral are the equal of anything in Kensington or Chelsea and are a reminder that Victoria was a coveted address in its pre-First World War heyday. Resales cost from about £700,000.
Heritage houses in streets closer to the Palace are prized. A six-bedroom townhouse on Catherine Place in the Birdcage Walk conservation area is for sale at £4.45 million — call Knight Frank on 020 3324 8051.
The Capital’s smartest Address: St James’s
St James’s occupies the precious rectangle of land between the Palace and Piccadilly, Trafalgar Square and Green Park. Arguably the capital’s smartest address and certainly the most quintessentially English, it is discreet — but not as expensive as some buyers expect.