The 'Great Embassy Exit' returns London to its residents

The 'Great Embassy Exit' returns London to its residents

As the diplomats move across the river, acres of central London will once again become elegant homes and smart apartments
* International embassies are moving further afield, leaving their former neo-classical 'palaces' to be remodelled into luxury apartment schemes and family homes in Marylebone and Mayfair.

* Many embassies, including the US and Netherlands, are moving to Nine Elms at Vauxhall. Thousands of new apartments will be built around the new bases, including 2,000 new apartments at Embassy Gardens in Nine Elms.

* Missions that will be sold include the Chinese Portland Place headquarters, the Netherlands Hyde Park Gate mission and the Brazilian embassy on Green Street, Mayfair.

The US Embassy
Cubist: The US Embassy will be in a glass cube at the heart of a homes scheme

The US Embassy’s move from Grosvenor Square, Mayfair, to a new home south of the river in Vauxhall has sparked an exodus of diplomatic missions from prime central London.

There are 22 embassies and consulates in Mayfair alone, and 19 in nearby Marylebone, and many seem to have woken up to the fact that they are sitting on property gold. By moving to a less-costly area they can work in more modern and efficient buildings while pocketing millions in profits from the sale of their grand current addresses.

Their move out will delight home-hunting billionaires as many of these neo-classical ‘palaces’ are likely to return to being single family homes or prestigious apartment schemes, set among some of the finest squares and wide stucco avenues in London.

View houses and flats for sale in Mayfair
7 Portland Place was the consulate for the Caribbean island of Montserrat. Built in the Edwardian period as a Champs Elysée-style apartment building, it later converted to offices. Now it has come full circle with reinstatement back to luxurious homes — seven spacious apartments, including a duplex penthouse. Prices from £3.5 million to £6 million. Call 020 7620 1500.

Redevelopment of the Chinese embassy on the same street could create as many as 60 luxury homes. The original 1785 building was demolished in 1980 and the replacement, though handsome enough, is not listed. Here too is the Polish Embassy, the Kenya High Commission and the Portuguese Consulate.

The Landmark is another Marylebone launch — 25 flats priced from £595,000 — while 43-45 Great Cumberland Place is a redevelopment of two listed townhouses into seven opulent apartments. Prices from £999,999. Call 020 7620 1500.

43-45 Great Cumberland Place
From £999,999: seven flats have been created from two houses at 43-45 Great Cumberland Place (020 7620 1500)
“Marylebone used to be Mayfair’s ‘poor’ neighbour but its status has risen and prices have jumped 107 per cent since 2005,” says Peter Wetherell. The two districts face each other across Oxford Street. Previously, addresses butting up against this bustling retail strip were less salubrious but are now smartening up due to co-ordinated neighbourhood improvements.

A very secret hideaway

Property company Grosvenor is refurbishing Brown Hart Gardens, near Duke Street, one of the capital’s secret hideaways. This raised public space is built above an electricity sub-station and enclosed by classical stone pillars and listed domes. It will soon have a café and pavilion, too. And coming soon next door is The Beaumont, a new restaurant by the team behind The Ivy.

Sixteen apartments have been created out of previous office space with meticulous attention to detail and great architectural sensitivity behind a listed red-brick façade at 65 Duke Street. Rents are from £1,250 a week but the quality of the apartments makes them very good value compared with hotel stays. Call Grosvenor Lettings on 020 7312 6449.

Actors on the world stage

For most of the 20th century, Marylebone was a genteel backwater populated by thespians and retired doctors. Its high street retained the character of a county town rather than an urban thoroughfare moments from Marble Arch. Decline set in during the Eighties and by 1995 the high street was in crisis. Half the shops were empty or let to charity shops, residential values were suffering and office occupiers were leaving.

View houses and flats for sale in Marylebone
Fitzroy Place, the former Middlesex Hospital has 235 private homes. It claims to be one of the fastest-selling schemes in London. Prices start at £1.25 million. Call 020 7323 1077.

Other coveted embassy addresses include Fitzroy Square, a Georgian gem, where Mozambique’s and Liberia’s embassies are based, and the Swiss and Swedish embassies in Montagu Place, W1. Both are nondescript modern buildings and strong redevelopment candidates.

London house prices: the average cost of buying a home in every borough

    Min Price
    Max Price
    Min Price
    Max Price

Follow us on Twitter