Live and Let Buy in Chelsea


With its superlative selection of detached homes - Chelsea has overtaken Knightsbridge as the location of choice for the super-rich. By James Matthews

The beating heart of all that is stylish about London, Chelsea was once described as a ‘village of palaces’; a moniker that still rings true today. A truly cosmopolitan neighbourhood, the Swinging 60s and New Wave 70s helped mould the district’s fashionable persona, but it was its gentrification during the mid-1980s that underpinned its upscale transformation; a well-heeled demographic that continues to feed the area’s house price premium.

Despite being one London’s smallest boroughs, Chelsea’s geography is surprisingly diverse. Bounded to the south by the River Thames, its frontage runs from Chelsea Bridge spanning Chelsea Embankment, Cheyne Walk, Lots Road and Chelsea Harbour, its modern eastern boundary embracing Chelsea Bridge Road and the lower half of Sloane Street, including Sloane Square, along with parts of Belgravia. To the north and northwest, the district fades into Knightsbridge and South Kensington, although it is safe to say that the area north of King’s Road as far northwest as Fulham Road is still resolutely part of the borough. “Chelsea effectively consists of two main postcodes SW3 and SW10 but also includes small sections of SW1,” confirms buying agent Julian Batting: “The most desirable parts to live are around Sloane Square and Knightsbridge tube. What gives it its unique appeal however is that it offers such an eclectic lifestyle mix – fabulous shopping, a cultural feast of museums and art galleries plus plenty of outdoor space to relax in at Hyde Park, Battersea Park, and the Physic Gardens. Increasingly we’re seeing an upturn in interest due to the higher proportion of large family homes available, compared to the West End. The area is especially well-known for its shared private gardens; a real investor draw for families looking to settle in the area.”

Property Market

Demand for prime property continues to appeal to both a domestic and international audience, confirms Shaun Drummond of Harrods Estates. “The impressive projected 1 year average house price growth of 7.5%, alongside a central location provides an all-round great investment,” he adds. “Price per square foot varies between £2,000 and £3,000 for a house with a garden and a garage, and sometimes considerably more.”

As to top locations - Georgian houses in Cheyne Walk may sit on a busy road but come with beautiful views of the river. The tranquil squares off King’s Road — Wellington, Markham, Paultons and Carlyle - are also highly sought after. Adds Ben Osborne of the Farrar Group: “Carlyle Square is particularly popular because the Square isn’t listed, so buyers have more of blank canvas when they apply for planning permission for extensions.”

Property Choice

The district encapsulates a diverse real estate portfolio, the core of the original village, by the Thames, retaining some impressive Georgian properties; the wider architectural mix embracing studio apartments and bijou mews houses to detached villas and grand townhouses, regal red-brick mansion blocks and Arts & Crafts houses built in the years between the First and Second World Wars.

For palatial detached and semi-detached houses, The Boltons and Tregunter Road remain in much demand, confirms Shaun Drummond. For quaint cottages and mews houses, South Kensington, and such roads as Claireville Grove, Bolton Gardens Mews and Queensgate Mews are very popular,” he adds.

For impressive lateral apartments, the area around Cromwell Road: Queen’s Gate Gardens, Onslow Gardens, Onslow Square and Evelyn Gardens are prudent choices. As for contemporary riverside developments, try Chelsea Harbour and Grosvenor Waterside,” adds Ben Osborne.

Enjoying a certain notoriety at present is the £3 billion development of the Chelsea Barracks site on Chelsea Bridge Road. This ambitious master plan will feature 448 new homes, leisure facilities with five landscaped acres of public and private gardens. The project is expected to be delivered in six phases - the first tranche of 74 apartments topped by 2 level penthouses designed by architects Squire and Partners are due to complete by 2018. Prices will range from £2m to over £50m.

Property Fast Facts

  1. House prices in Kensington and Chelsea have risen by 37% over the past five years.
  2. More than half of London’s most expensive streets can be found in the Borough. Bijou studio flats for sale start at £300,000, escalating to multimillion-pound price tags on palatial detached homes.
  3. London property sales figures for 2104 by estate agent Russell Simpson reveal that Chelsea accounted for 18% of London sales over £6.5 million. This topped Knightsbridge, with 14%, and Kensington, with 12%.
  4. Much of Chelsea is still owned by Earl Cadogan, through the Cadogan Estate which covers 93 acres including an unbroken stretch from Hyde Park to the King’s Road.

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