Since the late 1980s, the number of school buildings converted into loft apartments has been pretty huge and the desire for them has never gone out of fashion.

It’s almost as though the Victorians had a vision for their learning establishments to become homes at some stage: with their high ceilings, tall windows, beautiful parquet floors and pitched roofs, school conversions hold a perfectly timeless urban quality.



The beauty of the buildings on the outside is also a major draw; they are unfailingly elegant affairs with a strong sense of presence and, of course, familiarity. Many of us will have spent our formative years being schooled in these buildings, and so they hold a sense of nostalgia, even be it in such a modern, contemporary form.

Lovers of the automobile also revere the buildings. School playgrounds lend themselves perfectly as car parks, giving schoolhouse conversions a regular fan base of those who want to keep a car in London, and keep it secure.

Generally speaking, school conversions are in established residential neighbourhoods, which is kind of obvious when you think about it. And given that not everyone wants to live in an industrial district, they can offer a leafy alternative to those who want a loft, without the grit.

So is there any downside to these icons of the urban renaissance? Just the one: you’ll rarely find one with a lift.

Here’s a list of our five favourite school conversions in London. Clicking on the building names will take to you a Google Maps location link.

The Paragon, Bermondsey SE1

The first of two we feature by developers Sapcote, who were at the vanguard of London loft living. Originally sold in shell & core format, no two units are the same with each one kitted out by the buyer in their particular style. A sense of community is strong at The Paragon with a residents’ summer promenade party that meanders through various apartments.

The Lycee, Kennington SE11


The second Sapcote building on the list, in a neighbourhood that’s rarely in the spotlight but that is regularly ‘discovered’ with each property boom. Kennington is a Georgian enclave with a sweet ‘village’ centre, hidden squares, traditional pubs, etc. Handy for Westminster, The Lycee has some stonking apartments and a well-tended residents garden.

The Lanterns, Battersea, SW11
Perhaps the most exquisitely converted schoolhouse we know. The property market here was already very established when The Lanterns was redeveloped, meaning a generally smoother and more luxurious specification to reflect the Battersea set including some truly beautiful restoration works to, and highlighting of, the original interior features.

Minstrel Court, Bethnal Green E2
With a super hip location between Columbia Road and Broadway Market, less than a mile from Shoreditch High Street and Old Street, Minstrel Court takes the cake for an East End creative lifestyle. There’s a real mixed bag of apartment sizes here from just a few hundred to around 2000ft2 and even a space converted from the former bell tower.

The School House, Bermondsey SE1
One of our favourite things about The School House is that you don’t need to be a millionaire to live here as the building was developed mainly for the first time buyer market. The many entry-level apartments around 500-700sq ft have fun mezzanines and are a real antidote to similar sized typical new builds. Lovely communal gardens, too.


Some of the press and figures from one of London’s biggest estate agents suggest that sales were heavily reduced for the month of July. At the same time, the property portals Rightmove and OnTheMarket report a huge increase in enquiries. So how exactly was July?

For us, it was something of a bumper month, with an excellent performance in both sales and lettings. So why do huge influential agents and the national press report a huge drop in business, while smaller, independent niche operations like us experience an entirely different scenario?

We think the answer lies on the word ‘niche’. What is happening is that the upper end of the mainstream market, let’s say everything over £1million, has gone down. No matter how irrelevant the most expensive properties are to anyone trying to get a foot on the ladder, the bad news from the top almost always rushes down to the bottom.

While all this is going on, much is made of the shortage of property driving prices higher. While that’s true, it does mean there is less and less stock to sell while more and more people are finding property unaffordable. Couple that with “responsible lending” which appears to manifest itself by mainly inconveniencing far more people than it needs to, and it’s no wonder the market is faltering.

We are fortunate in that dealing with one-off, unusual and unique properties does, to an extent, shield us and our customers from some of the drama of the regular property market.

When it comes down to it, most of our customers are driven by desire, not need. The desire to live in a certain type of space, the desire to live in a particular building, the desire to move their life in a certain direction. Most of our clients are moving because they are driving the change in their lives, not because circumstances are driving it for them.

And so, as ever, if your property is unusual or unique – at least, in a good way – you’ll always find a market when ordinary property suffers.