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£1 million towns are here

 London property

Read about how the £1 million towns are here, why 90,000 new homes are needed for the elderly and the other big stories in our round up of the news items in this week’s property press.

Celebrity Watch

Victoria Beckham

Victoria Beckham’s former design studio has been renovated into two luxury 3 bed apartments using premium materials, with polished concrete floors and contemporary wooden panelling in the vast reception room

A couple of floors above in the same building (an architecturally impressive former industrial warehouse in Ransome’s Dock) is the penthouse of Toni Mascolo the hair dressing impresario of Toni & Guy.

Spectre Safe House

For sale at £1.25 million is a new luxury SW1 development Riverwalk which the 007 crew used as a safe house in between shooting scenes for the new James Bond epic Spectre which was released this week. The block has 116 state-of-the-art one, two, three and four bedroom apartments and penthouses, perfect for a “shaken not stirred” martini whilst admiring the capital’s skyline.

Caine seems keen on the waterfront

Michael Caine and his wife Shakira are viewing one of the new £1.55 million Chelsea Waterfront apartments overlooking the Thames at Lots Road despite already owning a 20-acre mansion in Surrey and a Chelsea Harbour Penthouse.

Britney bags a bargain

Britney Spears bagged a £4,7 million bargain when she bought a lavish mansion in California after its price had been lowered from by £3 million. Nestled against the Santa Monica Mountains, the 13,264 sq-ft estate has an infinity pool, tennis court and golf course.

House plans

New Flats Launched in the Barbican

The Barbican Estate has long been hot property. November’s launch of 74 flats in a former YMCA hostel, part of the brutalist complex, will excite not just lovers of concrete architecture, but also a growing number of people who want a home within the City’s ancient walls. Commuting hassles and the culture in London for long working hours is boosting demand at a time when the “Square Mile” in the City of London is becoming a more established place to live, with shops, restaurants, bars and even clubs, which stay open late and at weekends.

£1 million towns

£1 million towns are here!

Virginia Water, Cobham and Beaconsfield have become the first British towns outside of London to have an average house price in excess of one million pounds according to research undertaken by Lloyds Bank.

Virginia Water (home to Cliff Richard, Bruce Forsyth and Elton John) leads the way with an average price of £1.16 million, in second place Cobham at £1.04 million just shades Beaconsfield at just over the million.

Ironically the emergence of the first £1 million towns comes at a time when the overall number £1 million properties on the market had fallen by around 11% during the first during the first half of this year compared to the corresponding period in 2014.

Property deals

This week’s deals

These are some of the deals reported in this week’s property press:-


Plans have been submitted by Urban&Civic for a mixed use development in central Manchester consisting of 238 apartments, a 148 bedroom 4* hotel and ground floor commercial and retail units plus a new landscaped public square over the existing four-level basement car park.

Speaking about the plan Andrew Lavin, development manager for Urban&Civic said: “Our vision is to create a vibrant development that sensitively reconnects the site to the surrounding area.  We believe the introduction of local independent traders in the ground floor units will help integrate the scheme into the neighbourhood.  We plan to retain ownership and long-term stewardship as we believe in the site’s potential and long-term investment value.”

Subject to planning permission being granted, work would start on the initial phase of residential buildings next summer, with the first new residents moving in approximately by late 2017.

New Acquisition

Residential property owner and manager Grainger has acquired a property portfolio of 112 private rented sector (PRS) units from Aviva for around £10.4m across five sites located in Newcastle, Whitley Bay and Leeds, with an estimated rental value of around £694,000 a year.

This acquisition means that Grainger has now acquired more than 1,000 PRS units worth around £94m since 1 October 2014, bringing the total value of the company’s UK PRS portfolio to more than £925m worth of assets under management.

buy to let

Newham, South East London

The third appeal against the refusal of planning permission for a ‘mega mosque’ in Newham, has been rejected because of concerns about the loss of housing provision “on a large important site”, and for “economic and social reasons which demonstrate that the scheme does not amount to sustainable development”. The letter announcing the decision went on to say that the development could have impacted on Newham Council’s ability to reach its planned target of 40,000 new homes by 2027.

The plans, put forward by Islamic group Tablighi Jamaat who bought the site in 1996, included a new mosque to replace the one currently on the site as well as accommodation units, a library and sports facilities.

Westminster, London

The last major office to residential conversion to be permitted by Westminster City Council following their change of planning policy in September was given the go ahead this week. Clivedale have been given permission to redevelop 22 Hanover Square into a mixed-use hotel and residential scheme comprising 200,000 sq ft.

Under the plans the existing building will be replaced with a contemporary 5* hotel with restaurant and bar space, 41 apartments, and a luxury spa. Clivedale are currently in discussions with a number of world-class hotel operators and will start construction on site in April 2017.

Dagenham, East London

The developer Neighbour has confirmed plans to build what it describes as a “high-quality” private rented sector (PRS) development of 53 apartments above a café, two commercial spaces and ground-floor parking in Dagenham.

Neighbour describes this launch as a “test bed” for its plans to deliver large scale Scandinavian design and high-level service at affordable rents and on long-term leases. Amongst the innovations will be bike-size lifts, bike racks next to apartment doors, extensive amenity space, a café and online shopping drop-off boxes, and apartments will be designed specifically for PRS.

On its website Neighbour claims that its model will deliver “one unified solution for the whole block and will actively foster a strong community spirit amongst the tenants who enjoy ample amenity spaces, generous circulation areas, larger elevators for moving belongings, abundant secure cycle storage, personal secure storage facilities, reception and cafe areas and, importantly, purpose designed rental flats with the option of long-term tenure (with easy-leave clauses) for the tenants”.

The company has also exchanged on two sites in Kent and one in Leeds where it plans to build a total of 890 units and has a further pipeline of 560 units on two sites in London that it has not yet exchanged on

house for retired

90,000 new homes needed for the elderly

According to a report published this week by estate agents Savills the UK will need to build a total of 90,000 new retirement homes by 2020 to meet the rising demand from elderly people. Between 2015 and 2020 the number of over 65s is expected to rise by 2% per annum (around one million) and the number of over 75s by 3.2% a year.

The report goes onto say that increasing the provision of retirement housing from current levels of 4.8% of older people to 10% – which is still low by international standards – would require an additional 500,000 new homes in the same period.

It is estimated that over 65s have housing wealth of more than £1 trillion tied up in homes without mortgage debt and that around three million live in homes that are too big or unsuitable for their changing needs and lifestyles.

Commenting on the report Neal Hudson of Savills suggested that this sector presents a challenge but also a huge opportunity for developers, investors and policymakers to build homes that older people want and can afford to live in and to re-focus away from the existing market which is heavily based on “needs-based movers”, with bereavements, health or safety issues driving demand.

“A much broader focus on providing homes to meet the needs of affluent older movers would not only open up opportunities for developers and investors, but trigger the release of equity – often to help younger family members onto or up the housing ladder – and get larger family homes back into the market” he added.

Savills said that evidence from the US, Australia and New Zealand suggested there was substantial room for growth in the provision of older people’s housing and in the proportion of older people moving to housing designed and built specifically for them.

In the UK the retirement homes sector is dominated by two players who share 95% of the market between them – McCarthy & Stone, the sector’s biggest player, and Churchill Retirement Living. But last year these two developers delivered a total of only around 2,500 homes between them.

Both companies have plans to scale up with McCarthy & Stone recently announcing a return to the stock market and Churchill looking to build just over 600 apartments this year and then doubling sales to just over 1,000 in three to four years’ time.

Even these two developers admit that there is a need for more players in the market, but says Spencer McCarthy, Churchill Retirement Living chairman “the barriers to entry are often too high for housebuilders. Developments require a huge investment up front; we can’t sell units until everything is completed, unlike open-market housing, which can be sold off-plan. We also have affordable housing and planning contributions that make the barriers higher so other developers are not going to come forward. Another big issue is planning – I’ve been in business 21 years and government has always talked about speeding up planning. When you leave it to local government, there will always be Nimbies. Until government starts really charging local government for delays so there is a real cost impact on them, there won’t be progress.”

“There are things that we are talking to the government about, such as relieving planning obligations for retirement homes and reform of stamp duty for downsizers so it is not always all about first-time buyers. Sometimes we feel we are taking one step forward and three backwards; for example, [housing minister] Brandon Lewis recently said his father wouldn’t move into a McCarthy & Stone development as it “was not for him” – well, it may not be for him, but it’s not a helpful comment for the sector.

Despite the best efforts of McCarthy & Stone and Churchill without the involvement of other developers it seems inevitable that the sector will get nowhere near the 90,000 new homes that the Savills report claims are needed.

Town houses

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