The London mansion block has never been so popular, yet there are only a finite number in existence.
While many luxury property developers are seeking to reinvent them for the 21st century for a tidy profit, the birthplace of the original – the real white-stuccoed deal – is still Maida Vale in north west London.
Flats in mansion blocks account for 90 per cent of the homes in W9 today, according to David Fell, a research analyst for estate agent Hamptons International and the area also has one of the smallest price gaps between flats and similar-sized houses in the capital.
“They were profitable to build, aimed at tempting wealthy Londoners who had long favoured detached suburban homes to live nearer their work,” says Fell. “Driveways, wrought-iron detailing and pillars outside the front door were designed to appeal to their class conscious side.”
With its pretty high streets and village ambience, Maida Vale attracts wealthy names from the worlds of finance and the arts. “There is a real mixture of mainly British, French and American residents (due in part to a very prestigious American school nearby), as well as several high profile residents who work in finance and media,” says Jo Eccles, managing director at property search agency Sourcing Property.
“Noel Gallagher has recently bought one of the canal side houses. Some of these have gated off street parking, so residents can drive in and shut the gates without being photographed as they get out of their car – often a key criterion for those buyers.”
This seclusion has drawn the likes of Bjork, Rosie Huntingdon-Whiteley, Sienna Miller and Jude Law to live there over the years, particularly in southern parts of the area near the canal, where three of the top 100 most expensive homes ever sold in the capital reside. Houses in Blomfield road, in particular, have been breaking records for W9 since 2004, with one house fetching £16.25m in 2013, according to Hamptons’ data.
Clifton Road is also a pretty, popular street with a great mix of independent shops and boutiques, an Everyman cinema and a range of cuisines and gastro pubs.
But there are still bargains to be had if you’re looking for a pad in surrounding Notting Hill or St Johns Wood, but find that your purse strings can’t stretch that far. House-owners tend to hold on to their purchases, but when they do come up for sale they tend to start from around £3m.
The average property price, however, starts from around £850,000, approximately £200,000 above the London average, but good deals can be found on the northern borders.
“Maida Vale has been somewhat overlooked, with buyers preferring neighbouring St Johns Wood,” says Camilla Dell, managing partner at buying agency Black Brick. “With prices still at or below £1,000psqft, superb shops and transport links, we think it is excellent value in comparison. For example, we recently purchased a three bedroom apartment right on the border of Maida Vale and Kilburn for £675,000.”
Hamptons’ data for November shows that 11 per cent of buyers were making their first step on the property ladder in Maida Vale, 18 per cent were investors and 43 per cent were cash buyers.
When residents want to travel further afield, the Bakerloo connection means they’re 15mins from Mayfair and can change to the Jubilee to commute to Canary Wharf.
But why would you want to leave the cosy, genteel confines of the London mansion block?
Part of the attraction of Maida Vale for many is living in close proximity to Little Venice, a stretch of canal lined with smart restaurants, pubs and cafes, that provides a tranquil oasis away from the hustle and bustle. Close by is the Prince Alfred pub, a Grade II Listed Victorian pub with plenty of carved mahogany and etched glass to admire with a newly refurbished dining room and ceiling. For a spot of greenery, head to Paddington Recreation Ground, to hang out on the ‘village green’, play a game of cricket or visit the rose garden. If you’re a music fan, take a tour of BBC Maida Vale Studios, a complex of seven studios, five of them still in use, on Delaware Road, home to the BBC Symphony Orchestra since 1934 where thousands of classical and pop tracks have been recorded for over 80 years. To eat, try out one of Le Cochonnet’s gourmet pizzas, a casual Italian restaurant on Lauderdale Parade.
House prices Source: Zoopla
Transport Source: TfL
Time to Canary Wharf: 28 mins
Time to Liverpool Street: 25 mins
Nearest train station: Maida Vale
Best roads Source: Hamptons International
Most Expensive: Randolph Road: £4,258,333
Best Value: Chippenham Road: £433,800