And that’s why developers are increasingly turning these buildings into desirable flats and apartments, and in some cases even townhouses. As the schools, hospitals and libraries lose their original functions, they are proving irresistible to home-owners who crave some history.
These days, we all know that it is far better environmentally to renovate than to demolish and rebuild, so the combination of aesthetics and ethics are making these old buildings increasingly attractive.
It’s not just old municipal buildings, either. Even Victorian warehouses were built to such high standards that they can now be pressed into service as luxury flats. Take, for example, the old Sugar House in the City, or the Harrods depository in Barnes.
Piers Clanford of Berkeley Homes, which was behind the renovation of Sugar House, a renovated sugar warehouse on Lehman Street in E1, says: “There is great cachet in owning something truly unique, a one-of-a-kind piece of history that no one else has.”
Often, he says, these sorts of properties also have a wealth of original features which add a real sense of history and grandeur to the apartments, which are decorated to the highest modern standards.
SUGAR HOUSE, E1
This rather grand Victorian sugar warehouse and commercial HQ has been converted into 42 luxury apartments and penthouses. The site is just east of the City near Fenchurch Street and Tower Gateway DLR, making it ideal for City or Canary Wharf workers. Prices start from £424,950 for a one-bed or £1.1m for a penthouse.
Call Berkeley Homes on 020 3217 1000
HARRODS VILLAGE, SW13
The redeveloped Grade I listed Harrods Village in Barnes overlooks the Thames. The development is the converted Harrods depository which was built in 1894 and retains many original features, including the distinctive terracotta tiles advertising its name. The 5,910 sq ft penthouse – for sale at £6.5m – would certainly impress.
Contact Harrods Estates on: 020 7225 6506
THE OLD LIBRARY, SW11
This former library has been converted into a smart apartment in the heart of Battersea and is close to the Thames. The double height reception room with unique staircase is impressive. With two bedrooms, a private terrace, off-street parking and a communal garden, what more could you want?
Contact Douglas & Gordon on 020 7720 8077
CAMBERWELL GROVE, SE5
Set in the former Mary Datchelor School, this will consist of 90 properties, including studio, one, two and three bedroom apartments and Georgian-style two, three and four bedroom townhouses in school’s grounds. Denmark Hill, Peckham Rye and Loughborough Junction stations are all close by. Prices start at £399,950. Contact the Camberwell Grove marketing suite on: 020 7708 5829, www.camberwell-grove.com