Renting has swung back into fashion — and it does not get more fashionable than a designer pad in a prestigious heritage building on the King’s Road. London’s famous SW3 shopping street, once described by Mary Quant as “a catwalk for the mini-skirt”, is rediscovering its swinging image.
The chic courtyard opposite Peter Jones, which was the original Duke of York’s barracks, is now a bustling 11-acre shoppers’ paradise, where everyone goes for coffee on a Saturday morning.
Blocked off to the public for decades, the former Ministry of Defence compound was transformed by Chelsea’s biggest landlord, Cadogan Estate. There, too, is the new Saatchi Gallery, a splendid modern-design space in leafy Georgian surroundings.
Cadogan has limited the residential element of this precinct to just 51 apartments, and they are all for rent. Twenty five of the flats are in a building dating from 1803 (originally a girls’ school that was later taken over by the military), while the rest are in a newly built mews-style building alongside.
One-, two- and three-bedroom unfurnished apartments are available and there are some loft-like interiors with exposed timber beams. All are smartly fitted out with Bulthaup kitchens, comfort cooling and wooden floors, plus integrated audio-visual systems, iPod docking stations and fast broadband. Rents range from £510 to £1,250 a week for a 12-month assured shorthold tenancy.
The address is Cavalry Square, a landscaped courtyard tucked away at the back of the barracks. There is 24-hour concierge security and underground parking (included in the price), and renters have access to the private Cadogan Square Gardens and tennis courts.
“They are beautifully renovated apartments and realistically priced in today’s market,” says Emma Tilby of lettings agent Friend & Falke. For more information, call 020 7225 0814, or Cluttons on 020 7584 1200.
Having just launched, only a handful of the flats are occupied. “Every one so far has let to a single male,” adds Tilby. “The feedback we are getting is that the quality is amazing. Of course, the location is very special.”
'Because of the plentiful supply of homes, renters are in a strong position to haggle'
Across London, the rentals market is a mixed picture. Corporate lets (£500 a week upwards) are suffering because of the credit crunch and City redundancies but budget rentals remain buoyant, with rents still nudging up, according to Ludlow Thompson, which covers east and south-east London.
Estate agent Hamptons’ latest figures show that rents have dropped 5.5 per cent in London over the past three months, with rental stock in areas such as Knightsbridge and St John’s Wood double the level of a year ago. Fulham, previously popular with male bankers, is also struggling, with an oversupply of properties, triggering rent reductions of up to 20 per cent.
Because of the plentiful supply of homes, renters are in a strong position to haggle with landlords. Marsh & Parsons reports that a property off the King’s Road valued at £1,800 a week three months ago recently let for £995.
Meanwhile, some sleepy estate landlords are sprucing up their properties in response to the resurgent demand. Trinity Village in Southwark is one of the capital’s best-kept secrets. Owned by maritime charity Corporation of Trinity House (CTH), the estate is a Georgian gem comprising 250 homes set around two garden squares and a listed church.
For decades, the homes — a mixture of flats and elegant four-storey houses — have been rented out to in-the-know locals such as Guy’s Hospital surgeons, barristers and City bankers. The estate’s policy has been to encourage families rather than split up the houses for short-term sharers.
It is a tranquil, traffic-free enclave within a 15-minute walk of the South Bank and Borough Market. The imposing Holy Trinity Church is a recording studio and rehearsal space for the London Philharmonic Orchestra. CTH is undertaking a rolling refurbishment programme and has rebranded the estate as Trinity Village in a bid to widen the pool of renters.
Rents range from £1,200 a month for a flat and from £2,500 a month for a house. For more information, visit www.trinityvillage.co.uk. The estate is managed by an on-site office that also offers residents a maintenance and repair service. “It’s like living in a mansion block with a concierge,” says David King of NB Real Estate.