As the capital’s residential buildings get taller and the views more panoramic, the new kids on the London skyline are bringing the capital into sharper focus for property buyers. The Shard, Cheesegrater and Walkie Talkie are now vying for attention with the likes of age-old landmarks like Tower Bridge or the historic royal palaces.
For those adding to their global property portfolio, a pad in London with an incredible view will always be an impressive buy. According to Mark Dorman, head of London residential development and investment at Strutt & Parker, a view of Buckingham or Kensington Palace can attract a premium of 20 per cent for a second- hand home.
“For the newer additions to the London skyline over the last 20 years, like The Shard and the London Eye as well as the traditional garden squares and parks, you’ll pay around 15 per cent more and at least a 10 per cent premium for views of the River Thames.”
For slimmer budgets, the high rise towers rising around the capital have added to supply of homes with views. With so much choice, what makes a view better than others?
“It’s less important how ‘pretty’ your house is, and more important how aesthetically pleasing your neighbour’s house is,” says London buying agent Nathalie Hirst
“A view of the London skyline is unique and our clients want to wake up and know they are in London, not any other global city,” comments Thea Wellband from The Buying Solution. “Westminster is surrounded by iconic buildings, why choose one landmark when you can have several?”
Indeed you can, for £22m. On the Albert Embankment, the four-bedroom, 6,903sqft triplex penthouse at the Corniche by Berkeley Group’s St James division, has 360 degree views sweeping across the capital’s skyline. Positioned on the 25th to 27th floors, the curved floor-to-ceiling windows take in every single London landmark with direct views of the Palace of Westminster.
Sean Ellis, chairman of St James, says: “The view is constantly changing. It’s amazing at night when the whole city is lit up.” The bespoke interiors by Thomas Griem of TG Studio include a nifty gin bar while the vast roof terrace is reminiscent of a luxury ocean liner’s deck.
In terms of prestige, it’s all about gardens says Camilla Dell of Black Brick, an independent buying consultancy. “A green outlook commands the highest premium especially for access to private communal gardens in the prestigious garden squares around Notting Hill and Holland Park.” However, in London, there are very few views of rivers or parks without lanes of traffic in between. “Unless you’re very high up you could also be looking into a green leaf canopy for most of the year,” adds Roarie Scarisbrick, a buying agent from Property Vision.
Could the best home be one with an Act of Parliament to protect its view for ever? There are a few – at a price
Regeneration zones like King’s Cross, Vauxhall and Battersea may offer less central views and often a convergence of train lines, but they are proving just as popular especially as the communities around them become more established.
Views from the penthouse at Circus West, Battersea Power Station, take in the bend of the river up to Westminster with the city in silhouette beyond as well as the trains to and from Victoria below. Penthouse prices range from £5m to £20m.
Views of attractive houses will often seal the deal – think of the classic pastel terraces of Kensington and Chelsea. “It’s less important how ‘pretty’ your house is, and more important how aesthetically pleasing your neighbour’s house is,” says London buying agent Nathalie Hirst.
Downsizers, having grown tired of looking at the same house opposite for 30 years, are likely to attach value to views of a park or the cityscape. Pegasus Life, the upmarket retirement specialist, acknowledges potential demand, with its Hampstead Green Place development. The rooftop terraces are perfectly positioned to enjoy stunning, albeit distant views, of London's skyline. Prices start at £792,500.
Could the best home be one with an Act of Parliament to protect its view for ever? There are a few – at a price. A penthouse at St Edmund’s Terrace in St John’s Wood, on the market with UK Sotheby’s International Realty for £16m, benefits from two protected vistas from the summit of Primrose Hill, looking towards St Paul’s Cathedral and the Houses of Parliament. From the luxury Star and Garter development on top of Richmond Hill there are views of the Square Mile, Canary Wharf and The Shard on a clear day, plus one of 12 protected vistas of St Paul’s Cathedral. Prices start from £2.45m.
At Crystal Palace you can live in Highland Tower, a Grade II listed former church on the market with Keller Williams for £1.85m. The fifth floor roof terrace commands views across to Hampstead Heath, the City of London and Greenwich.
“The London skyline is one of the most iconic in the world so it’s no surprise that people are willing to pay for it,” says Albert Hill, founding director of estate agency The Modern House. “Far reaching views have the effect of making things visually pleasing – even the ugliest things look good at a distance.”