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News: London rife with re-gentrification

Fri, 23 Nov 07

A new list ranking London’s finest suburbs shows that locations once considered ‘badlands’ have joined the ranks of the most desirable places to live on the planet...

Notting Hill, for example, has moved from being one of the most deprived areas in London during the 1950s into the ‘super prime’ division according to Savills’ table. It has moved from an unranked position in 1989 to rank alongside the ‘premier league’ of super prime places such as Mayfair and Knightsbridge in 2007.

Savills residential research put together their first table of prime London locations in September 1989. They have just updated it to show the immense change that has happened in the residential property market over that time.

Yolande Barnes, director of research responsible for both league tables comments, “The growth of London as a major world financial centre, the influx of overseas capital and increasing wealth from city businesses and bonuses has fuelled demand for prestigious residential properties. The areas considered prime where investors and second home owners, as well as high net worth owner-occupiers, most desire to buy has grown in line with this growing demand.

Rife with re-gentrification

The gentrification, and re-gentrification of areas that had previously fallen out of favour is behind the spread of prime locations. By 1989, some areas such as Bayswater, Bloomsbury and Marylebone which were amongst London’s top addresses at the turn of the century, had been classed as ‘no longer prime’. The current property boom has led to the extinction of this 1989 category. which also included Maida Vale and Soho.

Now, in 2007, they are back in favour in the premier and 1st divisions of the prime property world. According to Ms Barnes, we are now more tolerant of 1930s purpose-built apartments – a large part of Bayswater’s housing stock – while the trend for city living has played to the strengths of Covent Garden, Soho and Bloomsbury. Westminster which was ‘no longer prime’ 14 years ago is now classed prime, but is unlikely to reach the heights of super prime because it lacks a sense of identity and is dominated by other sorts of buildings.

Other areas which have moved up into prime territory since 1989 include Islington, Dulwich, Battersea Park, Blackheath and Primrose Hill. All of this means that London’s newly prime places are now amongst the most desirable places to live in the country and have a very high incidence of sales taking place at over £1million. The high property values found in prime areas within a city that is already expensive in global terms, makes the Savills Super Prime areas amongst the most expensive on the planet.

Distinct character and identity

Barnes again, “The potential for a rundown area to become a status address depends on three main factors. The first is the type of housing stock predominant in an area. Georgian town houses in quantity practically guarantee prime status as do stucco-fronted Victorian ones but good, large family houses of any period, modest quantities of very well-managed purpose-built apartment blocks and characterful converted flats will often be a factor.

The second factor, particularly important, is a sense of place and identifiable neighbourhood. Most prime locations have an easily identifiable focus – or series of hubs- where you will find a good selection of local shops and amenities and open space. If you look at the prime areas they can all be described as urban villages. The important thing is that they have their own distinct character and identity. Third, is the ‘next door neighbourhood effect’; up and coming locations adjacent to those that have already ‘up and come’ are more likely to become prime even than high quality outliers that are in a sea of council estates.”

Savills have tipped some areas as not (yet) prime in their table, effectively suggesting that they have the potential to become so. Barnes again, “In 2008 the real question for homeowners will be, what’s dead-cert prime and what’s vulnerable prime?”

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