Fitzrovia is loved by walk-to-work Londoners, with the West End on the doorstep and Charlotte Street's lively bars, restaurants and cafes drawing in the after-work crowd. It is a media hub with its advertising agencies and TV studios giving it a youthful, vibrant edge.
It is also hugely residential with a wide range of homes in charming streets and Georgian Squares, and residents have the rare luxury of living in the heart of central London and not having to commute.
Jonathan Hudson, Director of Hudsons Property, has worked in this part of London for the past 11 years, and has lived here since 2003. He says: “the villagey feel in Fitzrovia is really apparent once you live and work in the area. It’s an amazing place to live, there’s so much to do and you’ll soon get to know all the local people, from the shopkeepers who always have a story to tell, to the restaurateurs with big personalities.”
Fitzrovia is between Tottenham Court Road to the east, Oxford Street to the south, Great Portland Street to the west and Euston Road to the north. One of London's familiar landmarks, the BT Tower, hovers above the neighbourhood and can be seen from all over the city.
Many commercial buildings in the area are returning to residential premises. Property prices range from £800-£1,300 sq ft, so while it is difficult to get a foot on the ladder here, Hudson believes Fitzrovia still offers good value for money compared to neighbouring areas Marylebone and Mayfair.
“We can expect continued global interest in the lead up to the 2012 Olympics, and with the Tottenham Court Road station refurbishment and the Crossrail addition scheduled for 2018, any properties close by will benefit hugely,” he says.
The insider’s guide
Properties: Fitzrovia has a selection of converted flats (some above commercial premises), purpose-built blocks and houses.
According to Hudson, "Many are typically Georgian in style, however since the Second World War newer properties have appeared and recently, with huge investment from some of the big property estates and investment groups, modern buildings of mixed use, such as The Qube, Market Square, Crabtree Place and Fitzrovia Apartments are bringing in a mix of old and new to Fitzrovia and it is definitely making buyers, property developers and investors take notice."
Typical buyers: Buyers in their late twenties to late thirties wanting the London life, but also include parents funding student homes and those approaching retirement age seeking a new city home after the kids have left the nest.
British buyers in this area are back - 70 per cent of buyers through Hudsons in the past year have been UK-based. Many international buyers purchase property here as investments, with a significant number of buyers from Asia during 2010. The area is becoming well-known globally thanks to developments being marketed and sold off-plan overseas, including Grafton Way by Tiuta and Fitzrovia apartments by Ridgeford/Manhattan Loft Corporation.
Hottest properties: York House in Berners Street (right) is a fine red-brick portered-mansion block, and West One House in Wells Street, an apartment building with balconies and underground parking, is also a popular address.
There are some charming houses on Colville Place and Middleton Place - both pedestrian-only streets, and further north Fitzroy Square is a beautiful private square with famous residents including Guy Ritchie and Griff Rhys Jones.
Hidden gems: properties tucked away in Colville Place, Fitzroy Square, Middleton Place, Newman Passage (where TV and film companies shoot a lot of old London scenes), and Bedford Square are hidden gems. Great Titchfield Street also has its own charm and village feel with quirky shops and small restaurants.
Investment opportunities: Hudson says, “Property in Fitzrovia now is deemed to be an excellent investment opportunity as companies like Derwent London, Ridgeford Properties and the Great Portland Estate continue to invest heavily in the area, improving and refurbishing existing buildings with mixed-use schemes.”
Plans for the three-acre Former Middlesex Hospital Site on Mortimer Street are due to be unveiled shortly, and with much expected interest this will further earmark Fitzrovia as the area to live or invest in. The scheme, expected to be complete by the end of 2014, is to include a mix of residential and affordable homes.
Service charges: Service charges vary from £800 a year for a non-portered building, and in extreme cases can reach up to £10,000 a year for blocks which haven’t been maintained well over the years or have 24-hour porters, leisure facilities and underground parking.
Parking: Fitzrovia is split between two councils. East of Charlotte and Cleveland Street is Camden and West - the bigger F Zone allowing parking up to as far as Lancaster Gate -is favoured. But as Hudson explains, “parking is the least of your problems as everything in Fitzrovia is accessible by foot. You can walk through Soho and be on the Thames in 20 minutes or north through Regents Park to Primrose Hill in less than half an hour.”
Parking is available on Berners Street, Clipstone Street or just the other side of Tottenham Court Road under the YMCA. There are a few modern residential developments with underground parking but they are few and far between.
Jonathan Hudson’s Fitzrovia
Favourite viewings: “The best viewings are securing the homes people will be spending their next years in… but who can resist a unique period property with charm and original features or something more modern with floor-to-ceiling windows and specialist architectural design. Each property has its own unique quality whether it is feature-led or down to a good price for the space. One thing is for certain, Fitzrovia has a diversity of property.”
Where would you buy? “The roads to the north around Warren Street and Cleveland Street I believe are ripe for future growth - buying a blue chip property here will always command excellent prices whether you are selling or renting. My favourite roads are Newman Passage for its very old London feel, and Colville Place for your picture postcard London mews,” says Hudson.