Such is the clamour for property in the East End that it’s beginning to make even West London look like the cheap alternative. In many ways it’s hardly surprising; the East has become more exciting, more hip, more connected and more everything for a good few years now. And when it comes to the zeitgeist of living in urban spaces – lofts, warehouses, industrial chic and exposed bricks – which part of London is it that springs to mind?
But it’s not just people moving in to the East that are affected by the twist in fate. Those already living there and looking to trade up – from an apartment to, say, a house – are having to shift their gaze westwards to find something affordable, despite doing so well on their current trendy pad. Imagine that; your post-industrial gem on the canal will only give you enough space for your growing family if you go west, to the burbs. The shift in price, reputation and demographic in the East is now way beyond miraculous and, when you think that prices in parts of Walthamstow – yes Walthamstow – have gone into orbit, you get a true grip on just how bizarre the situation has become. And how much an E in your postcode is now worth.
Still, it must be said the East has lagged behind far too long, despite always being way more convenient for London’s financial heart; it was never more than a skip and a jump away, but never got the recognition or investment it deserved. And with life in the capital now more about being in the thick of it, rather getting away from it, the East clearly has the upper hand.
Whatever your view, you can’t say it isn’t making up for lost time.
This extraordinary converted water tower in St Albans is the starting pistol in our next big project; we’re – gasp! – going outside London. Not because we’re bored with the city – to be bored with London is to be bored with life itself – but because some architectural gems in the shires have begun to catch our eye.
For too long have we said cheerio to clients looking for some space in pastures greener and, as lovers of the modern railway system and uncomplicated ticketing system, we thought we’d finally start saying yes to the people in converted barns, stables and, indeed, water towers who regularly ask us in but are outside the reach of our Oyster.
This particular water tower is so much up our street that it’s no surprise we found a buyer for it. It’s an absolute stonker with 7 levels of unrelentingly slick design including swimming pool, curvaceous bathrooms, cinema, 10-person lift, double height living room with vaulted timber ceiling and, of course, a wrap-around roof terrace with 360 views of the surrounding countryside.
Urban-rural. It’s the new thing.
WATER TOWER IN THE SKY @ £1,575,000
While not particularly famous as a centre of ornithology, E1 is nonetheless home to a fair amount of our flighty feathered friends; you just need a few breadcrumbs to tempt them. And tempt them you can, standing on the little balcony of this imaginatively converted and created 1-bedroom apartment.
Overlooking the beautiful gardens of St George’s in the East and with a glorious Hawksmoor church tower creating an in-spire-ing spectacle outside, the amount of natural light coming in is nothing short of colossal. And no wonder; the living room has an entirely glazed pitched roof for a ceiling, and four panes of glass with double French doors in the wall. The result is a light-filled space that is so desirable, the current owner had to beat off the boss of the previous selling agent to buy it.
The main living space is divided by a few stairs at either end creating elevated sitting and study areas and a sunken library zone, with an open-plan kitchen at the heart. At the western end of the apartment you’ll find a good-sized double bedroom with a big sash window displaying the apartment’s period roots, along with an entire wall of fitted wardrobes.
“It’s been a joy living here” says Christine, who was immediately struck with “the blast of gorgeous light” on her initial viewing. “It was the first place I saw and I said I’ll take it.”
An understandable reaction. Might you do the same?
CANNON STREET ROAD , E1 @ £600,000