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Borough by borough 2016: Westminster
Westminster is home to all that is quintessentially thought of as London: Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament, the West End Theatre and the restaurants, bars and galleries of Soho and Covent Garden. As a result it has one of the highest house prices in London and the UK.
Westminster is well known for its super-prime villages such as Mayfair and Belgravia, and this is reflected in its property prices; it has the second highest average house prices in London at just under £1 million with one of the fastest rates of house price growth. Similarly it has one of the highest rents.
These price levels are underpinned by a wide range of factors, not least its central location and the type of housing stock, but also the local amenity offer; Westminster has 81 five star hotels and 40 Michelin starred restaurants, significantly higher than any other borough. Visually many parts of Westminster are reminiscent of historic London and there is a high share of small developments, consisting of less than fifteen units. Many are refurbishments and conversions which retain their Georgian exterior while the interiors are modern and finished to a very high specification.
These boutique developments are increasingly prevalent in Soho and Covent Garden, areas more recently associated with leisure or offices, where these office blocks are being returned to their original purpose of housing Londoners. For example, Wardour Street in Soho; three lateral apartments in a beautiful warehouse building, which has been refurbished to reveal the original charm of the building and uplifted with a wonderful and modern specification.
In Covent Garden, overlooking the Piazza, Capital & Counties’ building The Beecham, features the Ivy Market Grill on its ground floor, providing a world-class restaurant on its doorstep. These bespoke properties, their proximity to central London and the area’s village like atmosphere are proving very popular.
As a result these areas saw sharp house price increases of around 19% last year, pushing local prices into definite prime territory, with average prices achieved at around £1,800 psf. Demand is now rivalling the more traditionally super prime areas such as Mayfair. What is particularly interesting is these boutique developments are selling at prime prices, yet without the typical in-house amenity offer (private dining rooms, gyms and pools) that are the norm at some of the bigger schemes.