Stay close to the classics
South-African Grant Barrie, a 31-year-old financier, loves the hustle and bustle of London.
But when it came to buying his first home in the capital, he wanted a property that combined town and country: somewhere close to the river and the wide open space of Richmond Park as well as the bars and boutiques, restaurants and nightlife of Putney and Fulham, his main stomping grounds.
He chose Queen Mary's Place, Roehampton, where a new estate of 447 homes is being built within 14 acres of listed walled gardens, a tranquil retreat well connected to the action.
From his two-bedroom apartment, Mr Barrie has pleasing views of the prized Palladian mansion, soon to be converted into grand apartments, at the heart of the development.
"I feel I have the best of both worlds. It is historic and relaxing, and it feels like a proper community, with singles, couples and families, too." Value for money was another draw, he adds. "Equivalent size flats in Putney were £70,000 to £100,000 more expensive."
'Queen Mary's Place is unusual in the mix of homes and layout'
This price differential is partly due to the absence of the Tube in Roehampton but the area is well served by bus and rail. Mr Barrie's office is in Richmond and he uses nearby Barnes station to get to the City.
Named after the hospital that used to occupy the site, Queen Mary's Place is unusual in the mix of homes it offers and the layout of the estate. Properties range from flats to lodge houses, plus town houses and five bedroom villas, all arranged in formal squares, avenues, courtyards and crescents.
Launching Easter weekend is a collection of two- and three-bedroom houses in Crescent Gardens, all with underground parking. The homes overlook a semi-enclosed garden and prices start from £545,000. Call St James Homes on 0870 850 1560.
Three-bedroom houses at Garden Square are compact but well designed, with a small garden and an attic-style bedroom opening on to a balcony. Some have integral garages. Prices start from £499,950. Two bedroom flats start at £340,000.
Conversion of the 18th century mansion, regarded by English Heritage as one of the most architecturally important buildings of its type in London, is expected to start next year.
Outer London is ringed with golf courses offering a green sanctuary that seems a million miles away from the beating urban heart of the city. But few courses can boast such an impressive sense of arrival, and architectural legacy, as Sundridge Park, in the Bromley suburbs.
A listed Nash mansion sits in splendour amid grounds laid out by Humphry Repton, the 19th century landscape designer. Edward VII used to attend shooting parties at the estate, before a golf course was cut out of the valley.
The mansion later became a hotel and conference centre, which it remains today. However, a beautifully proportioned coach-house block with a sweeping driveway has been refurbished into five homes.
They are original mews houses, built in 1805, but updated internally with features such as Mark Wilkinson handmade kitchens. Prices from £725,000. There will also be 43 flats and eight town houses. Call Savills on 020 8313 7468.
Homes in a parkland setting are available at Balls Park, near Hertford. This 60-acre estate with a listed Jacobean mansion is also a film location for such movies as The Golden Compass.
For sale are new-build houses and original gatehouses. Prices start at £429,950. Call Explore Living on 0845 241 7758.
Former Warley Hospital in Braintree, Essex, is being redeveloped by City & Country Group into 131 homes. Many properties at The Galleries are double-height spaces with original decorative stonework, timber beams, fireplaces and large bay windows.
Cloistered courtyards have been brought back to life and original garden designs are being reinstated. Prices start at £280,000. Call 01277 202122.