Focus On... The City: residential is finally taking off in the Square Mile

The living area in a penthouse in The Heron.
When it comes to residential developments, the Square Mile has a bit of an image problem. The ancient financial heart of the City of London has been abuzz with business for 1,000 years and it’s still graced by some of the capital’s most impressive architecture. Around 370,000 people go there to work every day, but only 9,000 people actually live in the Square Mile. Without the community village feel of Hampstead and trendy hang outs of Shoreditch, it has struggled to attract major residential developers.
But all that is soon to change. A slew of new homes are being built on these ancient streets and there are more bars, pubs and restaurants open – 600 in total – than there’s ever been before. The Heron arguably kicked it all off. Situated around the corner from its commercial, Duck & Waffle counterpart in Bishopsgate, it was the first major residential development to open in the City for 30 years. It was snapped up fast as 95 per cent of the building was sold off-plan and now the £10m penthouses are the only ones that remain empty. It’s a similar story over at Berkeley’s Roman House bordering the Barbican on the largest surviving section of the original city walls; Taylor Wimpy’s St Dunstan’s Court, in Fetter Lane; Barts Square, where the first homes went on sale this week; and Principal Tower, on the borders of Bishopsgate and Shoreditch, which will enter the market in the autumn.
And it isn’t all international investment either. “While the support from the overseas market remains buoyant, we’re encouraged by the number of UK-based owner-occupiers and investors back in the market,” says Diana Alam, associate director of residential for estate agent JLL. According to CBRE’s City Living report published in June, demand is far outstripping supply in the Square Mile. Typically, capital growth has been three years behind prime central districts such as Mayfair and Chelsea, but the gap is closing fast. Since 2008, the London property market has grown by 41 per cent, prime central by 50 per cent and the City by 70 per cent. If prices keep increasing by this rate, it will have caught up with Mayfair in five years.
New homes in the City: The major developments bringing new life to the Square Mile
The Heron, Moor Lane
Developed by Heron International, The Heron – the residential tower – is not to be confused with The Heron Tower – the commercial tower – which is currently home to Duck & Waffle and Sushi Samba, opposite Liverpool Street Station. Its residential counterpart is in a much quieter spot around the corner, close to Moorgate station. It’s the biggest development to open up in the City since The Barbican. Comprising 285 apartments, this 36-storey tower offers its residents access to a Heron private members club, providing a concierge, valet parking, a gym, bars, meeting rooms, a screening room and landscaped gardens.
Tower View, St Katharine Docks
While Tower View’s location is a clear selling point, with a panorama including Tower Bridge, The Shard, and St Paul’s, its price tag has just as much to do with the amount of space on offer. The apartments – a joint venture between Hadley Property Group and Stratus Securities – reside in a riverside warehouse, a typical feature along the Docks, which have been a hub of commerce since the 10th century. Buyers face a choice between two-bedroom residences ranging from duplexes to flats, or they can splash out on the three-bedroom penthouse with a rooftop viewing gallery. It occupies the fifth and sixth floor and takes up around 2,500sqft of living space. The apartments have been “designed with entertaining in mind” to entice lively, sociable buyers.
St Dunstan’s Court, Fetter Lane
This new development from Taylor Wimpey is on the edge of the City, bordering the WC2 and EC4 postcodes. It comprises 76 luxury one and two bedroom apartments and duplex penthouses, which also come with access to a private residents’ club and a 24 hour concierge. The homeowners here will also have a private roof terrace and landscaped gardens to enjoy the City lights from. Only 500 metres away from the embankment, this development is also bordered to the north by the neo-Gothic style, Grade II listed Maughan Library, which is part of King’s College, University of London. Not bad for a local library.
Roman House, Wood Street

This boutique collection of 90 apartments from Berkeley Homes sits on the site of ancient London. It boasts four luxury penthouses named after illustrious figures in Roman history; Augustus, Constantine, Julius and Claudius. Only the largest penthouse, Augustus, remains on sale for £4.25m. In addition to its panoramic views of the cityscape, it also overlooks the largest surviving section of the old Roman Wall that ringed the City. Award-winning design firm The Manser Practice furnished the properties with “timeless” interiors, using materials like limestone, marble and glass mosaic, which reflect the area’s classical history.