Prices in the City have risen by 122% since 2001 according to a leading estate agent, but its not the billions being traded every day in the Stock Exchange that have pushed them up, but a residential revival.
Time was when London’s Square Mile was more or less a ghost town both on weekdays after 8pm and at the weekends as its pinstriped denizens shipped out to their suburban or country bolt holes.
Few people except the bohemian residents of the Barbican complex considered it a neighbourhood worth calling home, mainly because it was a ‘business district’ not a residential one with few restaurants, pubs or other facilities open outside office hours.
But a raft of new apartment developments such as the Bezier, a slew of fashionable new districts springing up on its fringes and an increasing number of former offices, warehouses and studios being converted to residential use has changed all that, so much so agent Knight Frank now reckons the City is a upmarket as Mayfair, Knightsbridge or Belgravia.
Two trends are driving this, says Gráinne Gilmore, head of UK residential research at Knight Frank. She suggests that many of the once grubby ‘villages’ on the City’s fringes have become cool places to hang out or live in for London’s wealthy 20-somethings and this includes Clerkenwell, Farringdon, Shoreditch and Spitalfields.
Also, living in the City’s central areas is becoming more practical following the opening of shopping centre One New Change close to St Paul’s Cathedral plus the mooted benefits of Crossrail, which will make it easier to get in and out of the Square Mile both to other parts of the UK and London. This, says Gilmore's report Prime London Expands, is already beginning to drive property prices upwards even though Crossrail is not due to open until 2019.
“The last, but arguably, one of the most important factors in teh move to prime for the fringe is the new tech hub which has emerged around Old Street,” says Gilmore. “Referred to by David Cameron as ‘Silicon Roundabout’, the area now plays host to hundreds of tech start-ups and to Google’s new office building.”
Many of the once grubby ‘villages’ on the City’s fringes have become cool places to hang out or live in for London’s wealthy 20-somethings