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Property and Environment

Regent’s Park Properties are the Cream of the Crop

In June, a leasehold property on Chester Terrace, a grand run of John Nash-designed homes on the edge of Regent’s Park in north-west London, sold for £15.5m. The house is on one of the best-preserved Regency terraces in the capital, but even at £3,449 per sq ft, it is a relative steal compared with some of the trophy homes that overlook Hyde Park — it is less than half the £7,000 per sq ft achieved by a property in the One Hyde Park development.

According to data from LonRes, the average price per sq ft in Regent’s Park is £1,133. In Mayfair, on the eastern edge of Hyde Park, the price per sq ft is £2,214; in Knightsbridge, on the southern edge, be prepared to pay £2,181. For some local residents, though, there is no comparison. “Hyde Park is like a motorway,” says Gilda Hamilton, the tenant of a two-bedroom apartment on York Terrace West, beside the southern boundary of Regent’s Park.

“This feels like a village.” Many properties in and around Regent’s Park are owned by the Crown Estate and are leasehold, which puts off some international buyers, agents say. In contrast, houses overlooking Hyde Park are typically freehold, and even the apartments in One Hyde Park are sold with leases of up to 999 years. Sentiment may be changing, though. “Since 2002 the lengthening of leases from 60 to 150 years by the park’s freeholder, the Crown Estate, has made buying a home there more of an attractive long-term investment,” says Rosy Khalastchy of Beauchamp Estates, an agency.

“The improvement of neighbouring Marylebone and St John’s Wood high streets has made living in the park more appealing.” The 486-acre park was conceived by Nash in 1810 as a vast garden for a new palace for the Prince Regent, later George IV. The palace was never constructed and only nine of the planned 56 villas were built — along with six designed by neoclassical architect Quinlan Terry, built between 1988 and 2004. In the 1920s, many of the large villas were taken over by public institutions, but they have since been sold back into private hands — and in some cases, royalty.

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Nuffield Lodge is owned by the Sultan of Oman, St John’s Lodge belongs to Prince Jefri Bolkiah of Brunei, and The Holme, on Regent’s Park Inner Circle, is owned by the Saudi royal family. Hanover Lodge, a Grade II*-listed mansion, is being refurbished into what Beauchamp Estates expects to be among the most expensive properties in London, with a projected value of £200m-£250m. Winfield House — once known as Hartford Villa — was rebuilt in the 1930s and is now the US ambassador’s residence.

The owners of the terraces lining the park enjoy protected views over it — no new buildings will suddenly appear to obscure them — but they must paint their properties “Crown cream” every five years and are vetted before buying (purchasers must provide financial and personal references to the Crown Estate). “The fact that not many houses have private gardens pushes some buyers to St John’s Wood, as does a preference for houses across fewer floors,” says Marc Schneiderman of Arlington Residential, an estate agency. On Grade I-listed Chester Terrace — which has a 300-metre communal garden and its own security-controlled private road — there is a six-bedroom house for sale at £12.5m through Arlington. An elegantly refurbished five-bedroom townhouse on the same terrace is for sale at £14.5m through Beauchamp Estates.

“I modelled it on the classic style of The Peninsula Hotel in Hong Kong — luxurious yet homely,” says its owner, Anglo-American interior designer Tiggy Butler. “I love the tranquillity and the lack of light pollution that comes with having a vast nature reserve on my doorstep with only the sounds of ducks or herons.”

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Buyers today mostly hail from the US, the Middle East, Russia and India, say agents. Americans are attracted to the area by the American School in St John’s Wood. “Chinese buyers are increasingly keen on the park for its combination of nature and history,” says Schneiderman. Apartments in and around the park — there are 367 in total — are increasingly appealing to British and European downsizers, agents say.

“Buyers swap large family homes in Hampstead or Highgate worth more than £10m for generous lateral apartments,” says Khalastchy. Beauchamp is selling what he calls an “entry level” three-bedroom apartment on Cumberland Terrace for £3.75m. Three-bedroom mews houses on Chester Terrace cost around £2.5m. A major building project is taking place on Park Crescent on the park’s south-eastern corner, near the Regent’s Park tube station. Here, a swath of offices is being redeveloped into luxury residences by CIT. Prices start at £2.9m, available through Knight Frank.

Source: ft

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