Friday 25 October 2019 6:20 am

Focus on Victoria: Once just a train station, this central postcode now has an identity all its own

There was a time not so long ago when Victoria was a train station, not an area. You could be ‘near Victoria station,’ but not ‘in Victoria’.

Happily, it’s now made the transition thanks to an explosion of new bars, shops, offices and restaurants which have put the district firmly on the map.
“For many years Victoria was largely defined by its train station which, since the mid-nineteenth century, made a huge contribution to shaping both domestic and international travel,” says Frances Clacy, research analyst at Savills.

“Neighbour to the likes of Pimlico, Belgravia and Westminster with their heritage buildings, grand mansion blocks and houses, it’s only in the last few years that Victoria has really taken shape as a residential area in its own right.”

This is mainly thanks to Nova – the jagged red steel and glass complex that pierces the sky just outside the front of the train station. Developer Landsec, which owns a sizeable chunk of Victoria, has invested hundreds of millions in transforming the tired office blocks that used to occupy this space into a lively place to live, shop, drink and eat.

More recently, casual dining concept Market Halls has opened the follow-up to its Fulham debut on the site of the noughties super-club Pacha, which has proved very popular.

No ‘vanilla’ regeneration here

New apartments have inevitably followed, joining the period houses and mansion blocks set around attractive garden squares. Charlie Smith, prime London agent and managing director of London Real Estate Advisors, puts it in his top five places to invest in the capital, and an example of redevelopment done right.

“Gentrification often suggests an area becoming ‘vanilla’, removing its character, which is not the case with Victoria,” he says. “It is still a transient hub – in a good way – with the offices and shops, theatres and restaurants all adding to the vibe.”

He adds that it has “excellent” potential for long-term price growth, mainly due to the fact that it is sandwiched between some of London’s smartest residential areas, and its convenient location close to plenty of transport links.

Property agent JLL’s latest report on the wider Westminster, Victoria and Pimlico area forecasts that prices will grow by 16 per cent in the next five years. New-build house prices in the area currently average £1,750 per sq ft, but prices can soar above £3,000 per sq ft for the highest-specification homes. Meanwhile, the average price paid for a second-hand property in the last two years was £1.13m.

There are still pockets of relative affordability, however – in that same period, around 17 per cent of homes were purchased for less than £500,000.

Take your pick of apartments

The market is dominated by apartments, which made up 92 per cent of sales in the last two years – but there are a wide range of types to suit most tastes.

“Victoria offers everything from purpose built apartments in recently completed developments with every possible modern convenience, to a more traditional type of apartment in the fabulous network of streets just off Victoria Street, comprising Ashley Gardens, Carlisle Place and Morpeth Terrace,” says Edward Peers, assistant manager at Hamptons International in nearby Pimlico. These streets, he adds, are dominated by Victorian red brick mansion buildings where the properties range from one to five bedrooms.

Of the new-build developments currently on the market in Victoria, most are focused on the prime end of the market. Chimes on Horseferry Road has starting prices of £1.09m, and residents will have access to a spa, courtyard, roof terrace, guest suite, lounge and dining area, while Alchemi Group’s Westminster Fire Station on Greycoat Place will house a new restaurant with Michelin starred chef, Atul Kochhar in residence.

Victoria still has the great transport links that defined it in the nineteenth century, and the rejuvenation of the area in the last few years has added a lot more besides. It’s on the map, and it’s not going anywhere.

The UK production of Hamilton (pictured here in New York) is drawing crowds to Victoria

Area highlights

Nova has brought a huge range of new dining options to Victoria, and there’s something for every occasion. The Rail House Café is the follow-up to Fitzrovia’s popular Riding House Café, and puts on a great weekend brunch in its charming shabby-chic surrounds. Jason Atherton’s sourdough pizza joint Hai Cenato provides an interesting location in which to while away a happy hour, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a posher place to watch the football in London than the Greenwood Sports Pub and Kitchen. The major cultural attraction in Victoria right now is Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical Hamilton, and a gushing post-theatre crowd can be found outside The Victoria Palace Theatre on any given night of the week. On the side of Victoria that borders Chelsea, you can find The Thomas Cubitt – an elegant gastropub with a country-house feel which serves up a well-loved menu of British classics, as well as notorious flowery cake shop and Instagram influencer lodestar, Peggy Porschen.

House prices Source: Zoopla

Detached: £4.28m

Semi: £3.52m

Terraced: £3.05m

Flats: £1.14m

Transport Source: TfL

Time to Canary Wharf: 18 mins

Time to Liverpool Street: 19 mins

Nearest rail station: Victoria