Getting property back in business

As residential prices soar, developers are turning commercial spaces into homes

THE DARK dark satanic mills of William Blake’s Jerusalem were once a dominant fixture in the bustling life of industrial London. It wasn’t that long ago that the city produced condiments like sugar, honey, jam and vinegar, while warehouses stored valuable goods that were traded along the the Docks, such as silk, tea, and tobacco.

As London evolved, many of these fell into decline and desolation. But the increasing value and demand for property in the capital means many of these buildings are being reborn as residential dwellings. “Their appeal is far reaching,” says Robin Chatwin, head of Savills south west London,“from first time buyers to City workers in search of an impressive bachelor pad and downsizers looking for a quirky city retreat. The main attraction is typically the generous space and proportions on offer. Buyers also know these properties are one-offs.

“Unlike conventional Edwardian and Victorian houses that replicate one another, a property inside one of London’s old industrial buildings will be totally unique.” Battersea Power Station is perhaps the most high profile of these, but here are some other properties on the market with grand old stories to tell.

BATTERSEA POWER STATION, BATTERSEA
The iconic chimneys of the coal-fired power station in Battersea have loomed over London since its construction began in the 1930s until its completion in the 1950s. It was closed in 1975 after its operating costs began to outstrip its output and has laid derelict ever since. Many regeneration plans have been proposed over the years from urban parks to a new stadium for Chelsea Football Club. But from 1 May, Londoners will be able to get their hands on one of 254 new homes, ranging from studio, one, two, three, and four bedrooms and a luxury penthouse. Many of the apartments will retain the original exposed brickwork and industrial fittings.

Studio apartments priced from £800,000 while four-bedroom homes will start from £4m. To register, visit batterseapowerstation.co.uk, or call 020 7501 0678

STAFFORD PLACE, WESTMINSTER
Situated next to Buckingham Palace on Stafford Place, this office occupies the basement, first, and ground floors. It's currently being used as a surveyor's office but it's on the market with planning permission for conversion into a three-bedroom family home. Covering a plot 90ft long, it boasts nearly 5,000sqft of space spread over three floors. This sort of conversion is becoming increasingly popular, according to Kirsty Sugden from estate agent Hathaways, "Rising property prices have made residential buildings more profitable than office space, and with continued pressure on central London housing stock, we expect to see numerous more offices being converted back into homes in the next few years."

Stafford Place is on the market for £5.25m. For viewings 020 7222 3133

BURLINGTON LODGE STUDIOS, FULHAM
A two-bedroom home and a studio flat with nearly 2,400sqft of space are available in the laundry room of a former 19th century women’s prison. It was originally known as Fulham Refugee and it was built to hold up to 200 women. The building was extended in the 1870s to hold double the amount of prisoners and it was renamed Fulham Convict Prison. Constance Kent – a notorious 16-year-old who confessed to a child murder – was imprisoned there. Her story went on to inspire the 2008 novel The Suspicions of Mr Whicher which was later adapted for an ITV series. It was closed in the 1880s and, after a brief stint as a brewery, it was converted into homes in 1980 and renamed Burlington Lodge Studios.

Numbers Four and Seven, Burlington Lodge Studios, are available for £1.395m and £2.5m respectively. For viewings, contact Savills Fulham on 020 7731 9400.

THE VAT HOUSE, BEAUFOYS VINEGAR YARD, VAUXHALL
This grand apartment spread over three floors – known as a triplex in the business – is set within the grounds of the former Beaufoys Vinegar Yard. John Henry Beaufoy moved his distillery from Cuper’s Gardens to South Lambeth in 1812. The property in particular is known as The Vat House because it still contains a plinth in its study where the vinegar was made in a giant vat. The building is listed for both its architectural and historical importance and it boasts many original features, such as a large exposed brickwork fireplace and a cast iron staircase made nearby in South Lambeth Road.

The guide price for Beaufoy’s Vinegar Yard is £3.6m. For viewings, call Savills Wandsworth on 020 8877 1222 or email wandsworth@savills.com

HARTLEY JAM FACTORY, BERMONDSEY
Sir William Hartley's famous jam company purpose-built this factory in 1900 and over 2,000 people from the local area were employed in it. The site was derelict for a number of years after its closure but in 1999 Angel Properties applied for permission to renovate three of its buildings and build two more for housing. The area was one of two regeneration projects in the area, after grants were awarded by Southwark Council in 2009. The old jam factory sits on Rothsay Street, a historic stretch in Southwark that used to house tanneries, breweries and other industrial companies. Now it's a gated community of warehouse apartments. A two-bedroom, two-bathroom penthouse is on sale, comprising 1,600sqft of floor space, for £1.3m.

For viewings, call Savills Wapping on 020 7456 6800 or email wapping@savills.com

THE PRINTWORKS, FULHAM
The Printworks on the New Kings Road used to do exactly what it says on the tin – it was an old printing house. It was once home to a small greeting cards company which had a printing press that would run continuously in its heyday, pumping out cards en masse. It eventually became derelict when the company moved on and it has been converted into nine apartments: three one beds and six two beds. The conversion has kept many features of the Victorian building intact, including its distinctive street frontage. A new building has been added to the rear and the interior is described as light, airy and contemporary. The show apartment is open from tomorrow.

Prices from £495,000. For viewings, call Knight Frank on 020 7751 2400