Somewhere between where prime central London ends and mainstream London begins lies the city’s prime fringes, neighbourhoods which are teetering on the edge of greatness.
They may not be established global brands like the neighbourhoods of prime central London but these areas enjoy many of the same advantages – access to premiere green space, to London’s best shopping and restaurants, its theatres and cultural institutions, and elegant architecture – but with a significantly lower price tag.
Set on the northern side of Hyde Park, with the West End on one side and Notting Hill on the other there is hard to imagine a more perfect location than Bayswater.
Historically it has been let down by its proximity to Paddington Station, where steam trains once cast a shadow of pollution over Bayswater. But with Paddington in the throes of a major facelift and the arrival of the Elizabeth Line with its fast links to Heathrow Airport, the City, and Canary Wharf, proximity to the station is suddenly starting to look like an asset.
Another asset is the architecture, from the grand white stucco houses of Bayswater Road to the elegantly columned houses of Lancaster Gate. Bayswater has its fair share of charming garden squares, and very pretty mews. Black Brick recently helped a client pick up a very cute house on Bathurst Mews which they could rent out until a planned relocation from the Far East to London.
Bathurst Mews is a real London institution with working livery stables for rides in Hyde Park. We found them a three bedroom house, and secured it for £1.95m – more than ten per cent less than the original asking price. Read the case study here.
Queensway, the area’s de-facto high street, is also on the up. For generations this mish mash of cafes and restaurants, chain stores and independents has struggled to find a coherent identity. But the restoration of Whiteleys, London’s oldest department store, should help provide an upscale focus and narrow the gap between Bayswater and “proper” PCL. Whiteleys is due to reopen in 2023 with a Six Senses hotel and spa, plus a cinema, shops, restaurants, and some very lavish apartments.
In anticipation of this change many of Bayswater’s tatty old hotels have been snapped up and redeveloped. The developers investing in Bayswater include Edo Mapelli Mozzi, the husband of Princess Beatrice, who converted a row of Leinster Square townhouses into 15 lateral apartments.
Bayswater’s range of bars and restaurants is also improving – although you need to know where to look. Locals love Angelus, an off the beaten track gem of a French bistro just off the Bayswater Road, run by a former Gavroche sommelier in a converted mews pub, and Bel Canto, on Lancaster Gate, where French food is served with live opera performances.
There is also a surprisingly excellent range of primary schools, like the all-through Kensington Park School for fee payers. There is also Southbank International School on Kensington Park Road and L’Ecole Bilingue Elementaire for French speakers.
The breakout star of PCL’s fringes, Marylebone has been on the up ever since its major landowner, the Howard de Walden Estate, began to curate its slightly unloved long and winding high street in the 1990s.
It slowly brought in useful lifestyle shops including a flagship branch of Waitrose, a great range of independent cafes, restaurants, and boutiques, and instituted a hugely popular weekly farmers’ market.
Busy enough to have a real buzz, but peaceful and calm compared to the West End, suddenly Marylebone became a first choice for buyers rather than somewhere they looked at only if they found themselves priced out of Notting Hill or Mayfair.
And Marylebone’s renaissance means that its stock of townhouses, period flats, and boutique developments like Chiltern Place, have simply not been able to keep up with demand from frustrated buyers which has kept prices buoyant even during the turbulent past few years.
One of Black Brick’s recent clients was so taken by Marylebone High Street’s charms that he wanted to buy a London pied a terre within a short walk of it. We helped him buy a £2.75m newly refurbished two bedroom flat on Welbeck Street, getting in before it went onto the market and fighting off competition from another buyer. Read the case study here.
Marylebone is equally popular with UK and international buyers, creating a cosmopolitan vibe, and works as a place for a main family home or as a London crash pad. It is within walking distance of two of London’s best parks, Hyde and Regent’s, it contains London’s world class medical district, and it is just north of the West End and theatreland.
And local schools include a mix of high performing state schools plus prep schools like Portland Place School, single sex senior schools (Queen’s College London for girls, and Wetherby Senior School for boys), and an international school.
Set on the south side of the River Thames, facing Chelsea, Battersea has long been a popular choice for Londoners priced out of PCL who love it for its riverside works, its splendid eponymous park, and its high grade period housing stock.
More recently Battersea’s appeal has been heightened by the £8bn rebirth of Battersea Power Station, repurposed as the centrepiece of a new swathe of luxury housing complete with its own tube station. The power station development has added landmark apartment buildings, designed by an international range of architects like Frank Gehry, to the local housing stock of period terraces and converted flats. And the acclaim for the development’s mix of shops, restaurants, entertainment, and homes, has started tempting buyers from north of the river.
One recent Black Brick client came to us looking for a house in Chelsea, but quickly decided it would be more fun to live in Battersea. She fell for an apartment within the Grade II* listed power station, which we had identified as having amongst the development’s best river views. We were able to agree terms at £5.55m, significantly less than the original asking price, and equating to £2,238 per square foot. Read the case study.
Beyond the power station and the park, Battersea has tons to offer buyers. Battersea Park Road is lined with a really interesting range of cafes and restaurants, interiors stores, and useful neighbourhood shops. Battersea Arts Centre has a busy programme of theatre, comedy, music, and dance. And, for foodies, Northcote Road market is a hip spot while away the weekend stall browsing and café hopping.
Prince George and Princess Charlotte both began their educations in Battersea – the Prince and Princess of Wales enrolled them at Thomas’s Battersea. French speaking families fight for a place at the Ofsted-outstanding L’École de Battersea, where pupils aged three to 12 receive a bilingual education. For older pupils Harris Academy Battersea is one of London’s best performing state schools. And, within a couple of miles, you have got plenty of high performing day schools including St Paul’s Girls’ School, The London Oratory School, Putney High School, and Westminster School.
We would be delighted to hear from you to discuss your own property requirements. For a non-obligatory consultation, please contact us.