Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

HOW TO KEEP THE FAMILY HAPPY; Well-Priced New Homes with Gardens, Parking and First-Rate Security Are Tempting Families to Stay in London, Says David Spittles

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

HOW TO KEEP THE FAMILY HAPPY; Well-Priced New Homes with Gardens, Parking and First-Rate Security Are Tempting Families to Stay in London, Says David Spittles

Article excerpt

Byline: David Spittles

MODERN family houses with versatile and glamorous interiors are the number one choice of many young couples moving out of flats once they have children. Growing families, too, are bypassing gentrified Victorian terraces in favour of wow-factor houses that have exciting design, better security, gardens or terraces and off-street parking.

Such houses in the capital, though, are scarce and often expensive (despite recent price falls, it is staggering how many houses are still in the [pounds sterling]1million-plus bracket). Change is in the air, however, and the supply of new houses, particularly affordable middle-market ones, is likely to be considerably higher during the next 10 years compared with the past decade.

Already developers are switching their focus from flats to houses in response to the collapse of the new-build buy-to-let market. Moreover, local authority planners and Mayor Boris Johnson want to promote family friendly housing as a way of stopping the exodus of middle-class families from the capital. During the property boom, about 95 per cent of new homes built in London were apartments.

Well-designed town houses do not have to cost a fortune and they can help boost regeneration in run-down areas by making neighbourhoods more attractive to families.

Serving up cheaper modern houses in inner-city areas where young families want to live is perhaps the biggest challenge for developers.

Docklands, for example, holds little appeal for families, even when the breadwinner is a high-flyer at Canary Wharf. Estate agents say the dearth of good local schools is the main reason. Yet the dramatic waterside setting, with its array of amenities, can be a fantastic place for sporty teenagers.

Contemporary-design town houses tend to be easier to find in north and west London where demand is driven by creatives who want the "loft look" -- glass-and-steel finishes and open-plan interiors. But in some boroughs, such as Camden, planners are not keen on gated developments and private parking, which is a disincentive for families.

Most family buyers want a private garden or courtyard, where toddlers are safe, plus a space for the family car.

Modern mews developments can tick all the boxes. Bevans Mews in Shepherd's Bush fills a gap in the market by offering characterful freehold town houses at a reasonable price.

The eight two- and three-bedroom houses form a terrace in a landscaped cul-de-sac off Percy Road, W12. Spread over two levels, the houses are compact (1,200sq ft), unfussy but well-designed. The ground floor comprises a combined openplan kitchen, lounge and dining area. Full-width concertina doors open on to a small patio garden. The first floor extends into the roof space providing extra height and light, underfloor heating frees up wall space, and there is an audio-visual system and Lutron mood lighting. …

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