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Leafy, smart and prosperous, Wimbledon is the country in London with a village at its centre and a vast common stretching to Putney Vale. Wimbledon's traditional housing mix covers Georgian and Victorian villas, artisan cottages, interwar semis, Sixties townhouses, modern — normally retro-style — flats and the occasional super-size trophy mansion, with luxury apartments and houses bordering the common commanding the highest prices.
Estate agents tell you Wimbledon is two places connected by a hill. At the top of the hill is the village, with its boutiques and lanes leading to the common. At the bottom is bustling Wimbledon Broadway, the area's commercial heart, with a shopping mall, offices, theatre, cinema, bars and cafés, train and Tube stations, plus a tram link across south London.
In "downtown" Wimbledon, the average price is £400-£500 a sq ft, meaning homes cost from about £250,000, whereas in the village, square foot values can be more than twice as much, on the same level as Marylebone in central London.
"It's a settled place where families put down roots, meaning there's always competition for the right house in the village. Often a property will go to sealed bids," says estate agent Robert Holmes.
Knight Frank reports that buyers are moving from Chelsea and other expensive pockets of central London for the "country air" and more space for your money if you are willing to do a short commute into central London, by Tube in 20 minutes to High Street Kensington and by overground to Waterloo in 17 minutes. Driving is a more traffic-clogged affair at peak times.
Reverse conversions (a house originally split into flats being returned to a family home) are on the rise, and there is a steady flow of "tear down" projects: ugly, outdated property being replaced with a new home on the same plot of land.
New homes are quite rare and tend to be small infill schemes or one-off houses, making the pre-tennis launch of two bigger projects special.
A WALK IN THE PARK
Berkeley Homes is launching Wimbledon Hill Park, 94 homes in 25 acres of landscaped grounds in a walled estate, formerly the Atkinson Morley Hospital and now a mix of traditional and contemporary architectural styles. The first phase of eight executive family houses, which have generous entertaining space and roof terraces, is being unveiled this weekend, with prices from £3.5 million. Coming next are 26 apartments in the restored hospital. Call 020 8226 2126.
Wimbledon Village is the debut development of London Square, whose ideas are based on the architecture of traditional garden squares. Ten thoughtfully designed houses with a sense of grandeur have been built on the site of a former convent overlooking the playing fields of King's College School at Ridgway, a sought-after address, close to the village and local riding club and stables. Proximity to Wimbledon's highly rated schools is a must when the school run can be a nightmare of 4x4-driving mums.
The 4,300sq ft show house has a light and bright basement complex combining courtyard, open-plan kitchen and family space plus utility room, cinema, gym and study. An oak-and-glass staircase runs through the house, while a dumb waiter serves the ground-floor dining room from the kitchen. Two upper floors have six bedrooms with dressing rooms and bathrooms. There is a double garage as well as off-street parking. Prices from £2.5 million to £4 million. Call 020 8879 0222.
Nearer to the hallowed All England Tennis Club is Marryat Place, six semis with off-street parking for one vehicle. Completion is due next spring. Prices from £2.75 million. Call Berkeley Homes on 0845 371 4777.
Meanwhile Fairlawns, located by Wimbledon Parkside, is a conversion of a listed mansion into 10 apartments, price range from £895,950 to £1.85 million. Call Foxtons on 020 7973 2020.
MANSIONS AND FLATS
Lampton House is a Wimbledon whopper — a listed Edwardian mansion, completely refurbished, with a new lower-ground level incorporating a sunken garden room with glazed atrium, all in a half-acre plot, price £12 million. Call Robert Holmes on 020 8947 9833.
At the less gentrified end of the Broadway, Chorus is a 60-home development. It is a mixed-use scheme, with a sizeable office component and street-level shops plus shared-ownership homes — all of a scale to give the address a presence. Previously rented two-bedroom apartments have come on to the market at prices from £400,000. Call Quinton Scott on 020 8971 3800.