Now the summer is upon us – in theory – many Londoners look forward to making use of the city’s many parks and green spaces. But for a growing number of hardy, outdoorsy types, the capital’s lidos are just as much of a summertime staple.
Many local councils have worked hard in recent years to tidy up these open air pools, and their popularity has increased exponentially. But can living near one boost your home’s prospects on the property market or even plop a handsome premium onto it?
While most experts seem dubious about a lido’s ability to generate hard cash on a property sale, they do agree that they have a certain soft power, adding to the lifestyle factor and overall neighbourhood appeal for a certain kind of buyer.
“Although proximity to a public pool may not be top of the ‘must haves’ for buyers, which is dominated by good schools and transport links, it will add to the overall desirability of the location and can deliver the uplift in price sellers are looking for,” says Simon Gerrard, managing director at Martyn Gerrard estate agents.
As council or trust-maintained facilities, they’re often located close to public libraries, town halls and schools, and come in handy, he adds, “if the buyers have children they need to entertain during the school holidays, and if you’re looking to sell a home or flat with no outside space.” As a result they’ve proved very popular with families as well as young professionals looking to get fit on the cheap.
“I don’t think the weather has changed dramatically in the last 20 years, but I think it’s the fact that people don’t want to travel quite so much."
More than that, many lidos have vastly improved their restaurant offering, creating the sort of cafe culture often found along trendy high streets. The Brockwell Lido Cafe serves up all day brunch, cocktails and a mean halloumi burger, while more established competitors such as the Serpentine Lido Bar and Cafe has a large alfresco dining area with stunning views over the Serpentine and the Diana Memorial Fountain.
“There is a certain type of personality, that doesn’t necessarily even swim in the lido, but loves all the associated cafe stuff,” says Nina Harrison at London’s oldest buying agency Haringtons. “I don’t think the weather has changed dramatically in the last 20 years, but I think it’s the fact that people don’t want to travel quite so much. The traffic has increased hideously, so getting out of the city is getting more difficult. They’re just gritting their teeth and making better use of what are very good facilities on their doorstep.”
While the Serpentine and Hampstead Heath’s swimming ponds have been adored by locals and tourists alike for years, queues have been building up around hidden gems, like Covent Garden’s Oasis Sports Centre, hipster art deco pools like London Fields Lido, and smaller favourites like Tooting Bec Lido and Charlton Lido, which reopened following a £2m revamp in 2013.
“They can give you the false impression that you’re out in the sticks when you’re not,” says Matt Turner, a buying agent at Astute Property Search.
“With fewer lidos and public facilities available, the areas surrounding them are proving increasingly popular.”
So if you’re selling up and you want to make the most of your local lido, be sure to mention it to young families coming for viewings, sporty young professionals – and pretend you’re busy during rush hour when the traffic piles up.
“If possible, try to arrange viewings when the lido is quieter or closed,” says Gerrad. “If you have to sell during the winter, this is no bad thing – buyers can wistfully imagine the promise and prospect of relaxing by the pool in the height of summer, without having to encounter parking troubles.”
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