Once, people would come from all over London for an afternoon out at Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens. It was one of the leading spots for public entertainment. But after it closed in 1840 – the owners went bankrupt – the area has never seemed to regain its former glamour. Now, that stretch of land is just another public park and most Londoners know the area for its transport links – via the Northern and Victoria lines – and its bridge.
But Vauxhall has been quietly on the rise for a while, as it sits adjacent to Nine Elms, one of the biggest regeneration projects in Europe. The shiny towers and developments already cropping up along the south stretch of the Thames is set to bring 20,000 new homes to the area, shops, restaurants, offices, a new American embassy and, that icon of all towns with aspirations, a Waitrose supermarket. But why has it taken so long?
Some blame the heavy bombing the area endured during the war, others the significant amount of social housing that was built afterwards, but rapidly rising house prices have also played their part in the area’s shifting demographics. Ben Babington, director at Jackson-Stops & Staff, says, “Prices are appealing. Buyers who might only have considered Chelsea or Pimlico before are finding that they can save 30 per cent just by crossing Vauxhall Bridge.”
A multi-million pound boost to infrastructure is underway, too, including a £30m revamp of the underground station and the extension of the Northern Line in 2020 that will bring two new Tube stations into the area and a new bridge expected between Pimlico and Nine Elms. As a result, a recent report by Knight Frank found that “Vauxhall house prices have been outperforming Prime Central London by 24 per cent since the beginning of 2010.”
This has lead to an upheaval in local demographics, attracted by the investment potential of the area and the varied housing stock on offer. “The current buyer profile comprises mainly of professionals,” says Foxtons sales valuer William Campbell, “including quite a few familiar MPs due to its proximity to Westminster. With a versatile property portfolio of privately-owned ex-council apartments, Victorian houses and luxury modern apartments, the prices in and around Vauxhall range between £800-£2,000psqft, with asking prices for a one bed apartment ranging between £375,000-£475,000 and a two bed apartment averaging anything between £475,000-£1m.”
It’s no suprise then that major housebuilders are muscling in on the area. Berkeley Group has a few developments there while Mount Anvil and Fabrica have been building 441 new homes three minutes away from Vauxhall station, now called Keybridge, which was once an abandoned telephone exchange.
And to top it all off, Damien Hirst opened his new gallery on Newport Street this week, so Vauxhall might just have earned itself a reputation for being cool as well.
Five reasons to move to Vauxhall
- As you can see from the table above, your commuting times into the City aren’t bad. But the area is particularly popular with doctors working at St Thomas’ Hospital, spooks working at MI6 and MPs crossing the bridge to Westminster.
If you’re a clubber, the nightlife is great, thanks to a vibrant gay scene that has grown here in recent years, with club nights at places like The Eagle and Delooded.
It’s one of the lucky few places in London that has its own farm. Offering riding lessons and kid’s birthday parties, Vauxhall City Farm is a registered charity that has been teaching youngsters about animal welfare for 35 years.
Many people forget that Vauxhall is in Zone One. This means an annual adult Oyster travelcard can be as cheap as for £1,284 or £32.10 a week if you stay in Central London.
The buildings may never win a beauty pageant but it’s one of the few places where you can enjoy uninterrupted views over the River Thames, walk over a bridge to get home and stroll through a park, Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens, once you’re there.