Thursday 23 September 2010 7:30 pm

More than Voho, darling: Vauxhall is in for an overhaul

SANDWICHED between the South Bank and the Battersea waterfront, it was never going to be long before Vauxhall took off. Until now Vauxhall has traded on two cards: “Voho” – Gayer Soho – and housing London’s politicos. However, this week’s launch of St George Wharf, more commonly known simply as The Tower, is a sign that a more well-heeled class is moving in. Despite the lack of an official price list the current asking price for a three bedroom flat in the Tower is £1,375,000 (see right) – a far cry from the going rate for the rest of the area, averaging around £500,000 for a three bedroom house. Savvy investors should get in on the trend and buy in Vauxhall before the prices join the rest of central London. As Mark Hutton, manager of Douglas & Gordon’s Vauxhall office, says: “It’s an area of London undergoing gentrification, so buying a property in Vauxhall would be a very good investment. Not least for its central location and proximity to The Thames.” The Tower is going to be a big deal. It is 181-meters high and will soon be carved into our minds as a feature of the London skyline like the Gherkin and the OXO Tower. Sitting on the Thames-side, the developers had to battle with the previous government to offer the panoramic view over Westminster Palace. It is so good that apartment prices rise by £10,000 for every floor you go up. Some have speculated that the only way the developers are going to lure in the wealthy punters is to pray on foreigners, people they might be able to fool into thinking that Kennington and Kensington are the same thing. Mark Griffiths, the managing director of the project, makes no secret that he is aiming for the world market. Tonnes of Chinese granite have been imported for the interiors and the apartments’ lightening, heating and blinds can be operated remotely from anywhere in the world via a smartphone. So will the new residents have been hoodwinked? Is the Tower a diamond in the rough? The political class certainly do not think so. Vauxhall is already home to Alistair Darling, Ed Balls, John Major, and Charles Kennedy to name but a few. The proximity to Westminster and *cough* MI6 no doubt enticed them. Indeed, it is a little known fact that Kennington has locations wired for the parliamentary division bell. The new US Embassy is being built nearby which will breed more diplomatic action. The gay community would baulk at any suggestion that Vauxhall does not have anything to offer. The area’s gay credentials date back to the 1800s. The Royal Vauxhall Tavern is London’s oldest known gay bar. The pioneering district also housed London’s underground movement in the 1990s. Now established venues such as Area, Barcode, Crash and Fire draw in the pink pound. There are traditional attractions too: Fentiman Road and Hayford Avenue are already hotspots. St. Peter’s Church at the Vauxhall end of Kennington Lane was designed by John Loughborough Pearson, the architect who designed Rochester Cathedral. A strong Portuguese community means there are plenty of good tapas bars. And with plenty of foreign diplomats entering the area, prices should rise, making it a good investment if you act fast. OLD SOUTH LAMBETH ROAD Price: £895,000 Laid out over four floors, this house has three bedrooms, a reception room, large kitchen-dining room, utility room, bathroom and front and back gardens. Contact: 020 7735 9510 ST. GEORGE WHARF Price: on application Go for the three bedroom, three balcony variety, quoted at £1,375,000. Contact: 020 7223 7574 THE VAT HOUSE Price: £595,000 On the second floor of a converted vinegar factory, this two bedroom apartment has high ceilings. Contact: 020 7704 5000 VAUXHALL | NEED TO KNOW Tubes: Kennington, Oval (Northern line), Pimlico and Vauxhall (Victoria line) are all in between zones 1 and 2. Overland trains: Battersea Park and Wandsworth Road are on a line running from Peckham Rye to Victoria. Schools: Most of central London’s top independent schools are within walking distance, including Westminster, City of London, St. Paul’s Girls and Boys schools. Council tax: Slightly below the national average. The top rate is currently £2470.22. Crime: Below the national average. Restaurants: The traditional French La Toulouse Lautrec brasserie is critically acclaimed. American-South Asian fusion restaurant, Chino Latino, is local and has won a number of awards. Entertainment: The Oval cricket club and the comedy at the Fentimans Arms.