Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Opening the Gates to the City's Best-Kept Secrets; OPEN GARDEN SQUARES WEEKEND the Homes Cost PS2 Million, but 200 of London's Loveliest Private Gardens Are Open to Everyone This Weekend, Says Ruth Bloomfield

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Opening the Gates to the City's Best-Kept Secrets; OPEN GARDEN SQUARES WEEKEND the Homes Cost PS2 Million, but 200 of London's Loveliest Private Gardens Are Open to Everyone This Weekend, Says Ruth Bloomfield

Article excerpt

Byline: Ruth Bloomfield

THE average price of a home in a central London garden square has breached the PS2 million mark for the first time, such is the cachet of access to a private green space, kitted out with everything from tennis courts to barbecue pits.

Prices of garden square homes are now 25 per cent higher than similar homes in surrounding streets, according to research by Hamptons International. This weekend, Londoners have an opportunity to savour the landscaped world behind the wrought-iron gates during the annual Open Garden Squares Weekend.

These secret gardens are the preserve of the key holders who live about the squares. More than 200 gardens will be open to the public across the capital (opensquares.org). Noel de Keyser, a director of property agent Savills, says buyers pay a premium for a garden square home because they want privacy, exclusivity and a green view.

Ironically, as De Keyser says, busy Londoners hardly ever find time to use the gardens.

celebrity squares Hamptons' research is based on analysis of sale prices of properties in 64 central London garden squares, and shows the value of this type of home has increased seven per cent in the past 12 months, to an average of PS2,040,713. Homes within 220 yards of a square sell at an average of PS1,643,907.

Report author Johnny Morris, head of research at Hamptons International, says there is more to it than garden square living. The homes have classic, fine British architecture, and addresses such as Eaton Square or Chester Square are recognised the world over.

London's most expensive square in which to buy a house is Wilton Crescent, Belgravia, where an average property tops PS16 million. A spacious home in Chester Square, Belgravia, Collingham Gardens, Kensington, or Kensington Square will all cost upwards of PS10 million. When it comes to flats, Chester Square is the most expensive option with an average apartment topping PS6.25 million, followed by Eaton Square, Belgravia, with an average price of almost PS5.8 million.

Alex Newall, managing director at Hanover Private Office, believes Chester Square is worth its price of about PS3,200 a square foot. "Not only are you surrounded by beautiful stucco homes, but you have Elizabeth Street with its lovely cafes and boutique shops around the corner.

"This leafy garden square has been home to some of the world's most famous people, including Chelsea Football Club owner Roman Abramovich, the late Baroness Thatcher and celebrity chef Nigella Lawson."

The favourite of Harry Buchanan, director of Jackson-Stops & Staff, is Warwick Square in Pimlico. "It's a slice of romantic countryside in the city thanks to its beautifully planted gardens and tennis court. Most of the homes surrounding this square are split into flats, at about PS1. …

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