What would Queen Victoria say if she could see her geographical namesake today?
This impasse between the fusty mansion blocks of Westminster and the gated grandeur of Buckingham Palace has been a transport hub for 150 years, but it’s become unrecognisablein the last five. Big business has moved in, from top designer brands like Burberry and Tom Ford, to media companies like Channel 4 and The Telegraph.
And they haven’t just led a charge of Pret A Mangers; they’ve led to flapship restaurants from the likes of Jason Atherton and Jamie Oliver, shiny skyscrapers like the Nova building and more residential investment, too.
“It’s brought in thousands of new professionals who live, work and commute into the area each day,” says Oli Russell, from SP Property Group.
Victoria’s location in between royalty and government means it’s been home to many diplomats and parliamentarians over the years, as well as aristocratic oddities like the royal aviary, once situated on Birdcage Walk.
In typical London fashion, a large part of it was also a notorious slum in the 19th century, dubbed the “Devil’s Acre” by Charles Dickens.
“It takes a lot of enterprise and dedication to regenerate an area like Victoria."
Two factors seem to have kick-started recent development in Victoria; the announcement that the station would be one of the first Crossrail hubs to be completed in 2018 and Land Securities’ decision in 2014 to invest £2.2bn in the area.
The result is Nova, an architecturally divisive complex with 837,000sqft office, retail and residential space where flats start at £2.415m.
The transformation of Victoria Street has led to a number of smaller developments like VI Castle Lane – from £1.2m – to private rental schemes like 295 Victoria, where rent starts from £595 a week. This suits its transient, largely foreign-born clientele.
"They’re mainly international professionals, many looking for a pied-a-terre rather than their main home,” says Sigita Ranger, from Foxtons, who adds that Victoria “has long shaken off its image of ‘Belgravia’s ugly sister’ and become much more of a destination.”
The prestige of its neighbours means many are lured to Victoria by the relative bargains to be had. The average price of a pad in Victoria is £1.2m, according to Rightmove, half the SW1 average. A 2017 Knight Frank report also puts the average price per sqft at £1,300, which is 35 per cent lower than neighbouring Belgravia.
Meanwhile, Hamptons International’s research team, using Land Registry data, found that house price values have grown by 38 per cent in the last five years, with Grosvenor Gardens the most expensive road. Last year, a property on the street broke local records, selling for £16.9m.
So what’s next for Victoria? “The cranes look likely to roll down the road towards the coach station. Having outgrown its 1930s art deco home, it looks likely to be redeveloped into a new mixed-use district with coaches operating from smaller hubs spread across the capital,” says David Fell, Hamptons’ research analyst. It’s worth keeping an eye on the 1978 Elsom Pack & Roberts estate, too, a 240,000sqft mixed site that’s being rebranded Buckingham Green and brought to market by JLL next year.
While prime central London prices are starting to fall in many places, the fact improvement works are ongoing has protected Victoria. “House prices have peaked but they’re unlikely to fall,” says Charlie Willis from Strutt & Parker.
“It takes a lot of enterprise and dedication to regenerate an area like Victoria. I believe Queen Victoria would have been rather impressed.”
M Restaurant is a great place to start. The breakfasts are pretty impressive (pictured right) and you can keep things lean by choosing from the grill or the raw menu. For a more atmospheric evening meal, head to Boisdale Belgravia, which is actually a hop, skip and a jump away from Victoria station. The traditional Scottish restaurant has a staggering array of whiskies, a cigar terrace and live jazz most nights. Head out for a pint afterwards at Cask, which prides itself on its global selection of craft beers and ales on tap, and there are even gourmet burgers if you’re not already stuffed with steak and haggis. The Nova building is a must-see behemoth that recently won the Carbuncle Cup, an architecture prize for the most unattractive building in the UK. While its looks are controversial, the quality of the retail isn’t, bringing lots of big brands and chefs to the area for the first time. The Broadway smash Hamilton is also opening at the Victoria Palace Theatre at the end of the year.
House prices Source: Zoopla
Transport Source: TfL
Time to King’s Cross: 8 mins
Time to Liverpool Street: 18 mins
Nearest train station: Victoria
Best roads Source: Hamptons International
Most Expensive: Grosvenor Gdns: £5,170,000
Best Value: Warwick Way: £818,333
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