New designer homes in London's 'super-suburbs'
* The latest data reveals home buyers want to live in London but no longer at any cost. Londoners who want to see what they are getting for their money go to less expensive places outside the centre where they can buy a property they can move into straightaway
* London's suburbs could double in density, meeting the demand for 400,000 new homes over the next 20 years
* Cross-river moves south of the river are a growing trend as homes are significantly cheaper. Key developments include Wootton Place in Esher; Riverside Quarter in Wandsworth; and Doulton House in Chelsea
Homebuyers are turning their backs on overpriced central London and heading across the river and out to the suburbs for space, value and good design.
Europe is full of well-designed, ingeniously financed and properly managed new urban and suburban areas that satisfy the needs of their residents. Well land-managed, London’s suburbs could double in density, fully meeting the demand for 400,000 new homes over the next 20 years.
The Land Registry’s latest data shows this message is getting through to people who want to live in London — but not at any price. Sixty per cent of families who sold up during the 12 months to April did not move to the country, preferring to stay within the London area — up a third on the years of the previous decade.
Some are discovering up-and-coming districts previously out of sight and out of mind. Cross-river moves are a growing trend, according to estate agent Winkworth, which has the largest branch network in London. The main flows are from north and west London to south London, where homes are significantly cheaper, and where new Overground stations are improving the appeal of places such as Brockley, Dulwich and Crystal Palace.
New homes in core central London areas are geared towards wealthy buyers and overseas investors purchasing off-plan. A high proportion, about 40 per cent, of new-build homes on the market in London are for sale in this way.
But Londoners who want to see what they are getting for their money go to less expensive places outside the centre where they can get on with their lives and buy a property they can move into straightaway.
With ready-to-move-into homes, buyers have the advantage of being able to see and touch what they are getting and can synchronise the sale of their existing home with the purchase of the new one, to plan for a new school term or to be in by Christmas. “People are most happy and able to buy a new home when it is complete or very close to it,” said Bob Weston, managing director of Weston Homes, known for thoughtfully designed developments.
“They don’t have large amounts of surplus cash and they rely on equity being released from their existing property. For this reason we factor in speedy completion timelines, which help eliminate uncertainty and smooth the chain.”
Ready-to-move-into new homes
“Seeing is believing, that’s our mantra,” said David Smith, director of developer Octagon. “Rarely do we release a home to the market until it is completely finished, which means decorated, carpeted and sometimes fullly furnished, plus gardens that are planted and communal areas ready.”
So smart were the two show homes at Octagon’s Wootton Place scheme in Esher that they were snapped up ahead of the other five houses, prompting the developer to bring forward two more show homes, each featuring a marble-floor entrance hall and a basement with home cinema. Prices from £2.75 million. Call 01372 460117.
New homes for 'jetty-setters'
Riverside Quarter sits on a bend of the Thames known as the Wandle Delta, a noted wildlife habitat, and looks north across the river to leafy Hurlingham Park. Development began a decade ago and the scheme has matured into one of the city’s most attractive riverbank projects. It has moorings and pontoon jetties, landscaped squares, restaurants, a convenience store and river taxi pier for local residents. The final phase has been launched — 121 flats ready for immediate occupation, with floor-to-ceiling glass walls and generous-size balconies. Prices from £650,000. Call 020 8877 2000.
Chelsea Creek is a new dockside estate sandwiched between fashionable Chelsea Harbour and the giant Imperial Wharf residential complex. St George, the developer, has created a new navigable waterway linked to the Thames. Doulton House, one of the dock-facing blocks, has three-bedroom apartments priced from £1.3 million. Call St George on 020 7610 9693.
The Panoramic Collection of 13 apartments occupy the top floors of The Heron, a new tower in the City. These lateral flats range up to 2,300 sq ft and have superb wraparound terraces of more than 1,000sq ft with double-aspect views. Prices from £3.6 milllion. Call 0845 533 800.
Roehampton House is one of only two Grade I-listed London properties to be converted to residential use — the other being St Pancras Chambers, formerly Midland Grand Hotel, at King’s Cross. The rare Palladian mansion is at the heart of a new 14-acre walled estate called Queen Mary’s Place. There are 22 apartments in the restored mansion. Prices from £950,000 to £1.85 million.
Elsewhere on the estate are eight new five-bedroom semis, each with a ground-floor “super-room” for family living, a sun terrace on the upper floor and a utility room with separate external access, a practical solution for children and pets with muddy feet. Residents have exclusive access to a restored formal rose garden and there is a private shuttle bus to East Putney Tube station. Prices from £1,675,000. Call 020 8246 6748.
Stanmore, north-west London
When Air Chief Marshal Sir Hugh Dowding set up Fighter Command headquarters at the start of the Second World War, he chose Bentley Priory in Stanmore, north-west London, because of its elevated position offering sweeping views of the capital. From here in 1940, Fighter Command co-ordinated the efforts of the 3,000 pilots who won the Battle of Britain.
Today, the location appeals to commuters, being at the end of the Jubilee line, and is one of 20 “super-suburbs”, according to estate agent Savills. As well as grand apartments in the converted mansion, there are new-build flats and townhouses in the grounds, most with views across 57 acres of parkland. Prices from £839,000. Call 020 8950 5079.
Getting the design right
Modern townhouses with versatile layouts and exciting design elements are the number one choice of more and more young couples moving out of flats when they start a family. Growing families, too, are bypassing gentrified terraces in favour of wow-factor new-builds that chime with the way they live.
Mulberry Mews, close to Highbury Fields in Islington, has crisp, clean-line architecture, with white-rendered low-rise apartment blocks and houses set around a gated, tree-lined square. Houses have up to five bedrooms and two underground parking spaces. Prices from £2.3 million. Call 020 3667 5577.
Four eco-houses at a gated development in East Sheen are ready to move into. Prices from £1,395,000. Call Featherstone Leigh on 020 8876 4567. New townhouses at Argyll Place in North Kensington offer a chance to live around the corner from the Cameron family home, which is currently let while the Prime Minister occupies Downing Street.
The charming St Quintin Estate is a tree-lined conservation area of Edwardian terraces. Taylor Wimpey is building a line of 20 houses, each with a lower-ground floor that could be used as a self-contained studio, plus basement parking. Prices from £1.3 million. Call Strutt & Parker on 020 3667 5566.
Buyers may be able to strike a deal with a developer at bigger schemes where the last few homes remain. Often developers are keen to close down the site and move on to the next project.