Around any piece of prime central London, you’ll find a forlorn district on the outskirts whose fortune has improved immeasurably in recent years. Priced out of premium areas, buyers are increasingly moving to these formerly unpopular areas in search of space and affordability – and changing these areas in the process.
Bayswater is a prime example, sandwiched as it is between the golden postcodes of Notting Hill and Marylebone.
“Bayswater was always the poor man’s Notting Hill, it was a bit grotty and unpopular, but now that’s all changing,” says Jo Eccles from buying agent Sourcing Property. “And people can see it changing along the Queensway and Whiteleys now – which used to be soul destroying, by the way – and it’s making people feel like the area’s getting better.”
Said “soul destroyer” Whiteley’s shopping centre was actually given approval to be renovated back in March, while Queensway, a sub-division of the area, hit headlines in 2013 when it was revealed that 75 per cent of it had been bought up by a private family from Brunei for £500m.
There are now plans in the works to transform it into an “urban village” completely revamping the road. Dixon Jones Architects, the firm responsible for the re-design of the Royal Opera House, is at the helm.
Much of the existing architecture is similar to that in Notting Hill – tall Victorian or Georgian terraces – which prove popular with families looking for value for money. “They are also trying to avoid trading up,” Eccles adds. “They’re much happier to get that extra bedroom by moving to the outskirts of prime areas. Bayswater has hugely benefited from that.”
But these traditional houses – some rather worse for wear – are not the ones appealing to the fastest-growing demographic in the area: international buyers. Carlos Riveros, a sales director covering the area at estate agent Chestertons, estimates around 60 per cent of transactions in Bayswater come from international buyers, often looking for contemporary apartments cropping up in new developments.
As there’s a finite amount of land to build on, smaller schemes tend to dominate. One noticeable trend is turning Bayswater’s hotels and guest houses into apartments. This started with Northacre’s The Lancasters, which replaced the old Thistle hotel, and has continued with the Hempel Collection from Amazon Property and British Land.
Boutique developer Fruition Properties has created six apartments out of a Grade II Listed conversion in Kensignton Gardens Square, while Fraser & Co has done something similar over on Inverness Terrace, creating 15 apartments.
“They’re more contemporary and very popular with our international buyers,” says Riveros. “As much as they want a pretty house, they don’t feel comfortable locking them up and leaving them for large parts of the year, but the apartments are perfect for that.”
Hyde Park creating the border to the south is likely to remain an enormous draw for years to come. This is almost certainly why property closer to the park tends to be the most highly sought. Homes overlooking the park have drawn high net worth buyers from around the globe, says Nina Harrison, from buying agent Haringtons. “It has what I call a high ‘wheelie bag’ factor, with lots of coming and going due to Paddington nearby. But it is undeniably one of London’s most up and coming ‘villages.’”
The magisterial-looking Whiteley’s shopping centre on Queensway Road has a claim to fame as London’s first department store and is set to be revamped. The Notting Hill Arts Club meanwhile is a niche indie music venue with event nights and DJ sets running throughout the week. Take your family along to Queens Ice and Bowl if you’re after a bit of booze-fuelled bowling, regrettable karaoke sessions or scooting about on a frozen indoor ice rink. And then, once your arms are rendered limp and useless from hours of bowling, why not head over to Porchester Spa for a rejuvenating sauna? The near century-old spa houses two swimming pools and regular fitness classes. Take a leisurely stroll towards Speakers’ Corner on any given Sunday and you’ll stumble upon Bayswater Road Artists, an open air exhibition by Hyde Park that’s presented along the park’s railings.
House prices Source: Zoopla
Transport Source: TfL
Time to Canary Wharf: 31 mins
Time to Liverpool Street: 25 mins
Nearest train station: Bayswater
Best roads Source: Hamptons International
Most Expensive: Porchester Terrace: £2,591,500
Best Value: Craven Terrace: £381,190