As a London urban lifestyle in the inner city, city fringe and even in the suburbs becomes, if not mainstream, then certainly more common, there’s a lot of property development going on where the marketing or spiel purports to be offering loft apartments to an unsuspecting public.
The term “loft” has been somewhat purloined by the larger housebuilders seeking to attract a wider audience for their products. But rather than actually build lofts, they’ve simply added the term to their marketing of modern apartments.
Very simply, a loft apartment is an apartment that has been created out of a former non-residential building – think warehouses, factories, schools, hospitals, workshops, office blocks and churches. On top of that, to be an authentic loft the apartment should display some elements of its former use (usually industrial windows, some bare brick or concrete, perhaps the original timber or concrete floors, some iron beams and columns, you get the gist.)
Generally speaking, buyers nearer the centre of London are more savvy and exposed to loft apartments than buyers in the suburbs. And so it’s easier for a property developer to palm his modern apartments off as lofts in the suburbs, because the buyers usually won’t be so expert. It’s simply a question of exposure.
Some of the new developments we see in London where the developer is trying to sell them as lofts, are anything but. Very often the only lofty thing about them is that they are not quite so entirely disgusting as most of the boring boxes that major housebuilders insist on foisting upon the British public. And by not quite so entirely disgusting all we really mean is they might have upped the kitchen spec with a nice work surface, or put in some nice taps, or laid a wood (rather than laminate) floor or, the generous souls, made the windows a bit bigger. However, no matter how much they insist up on it, a new build apartment in a block with 8ft high ceilings is NOT, we repeat NOT, a loft.
There are some notable exceptions to the new build rule. Bankside Lofts in Bankside opposite the Tate Modern is a good example of how it is possible to create lofts in a new building. There are high ceilings, double height voids, massive full-height, full-width factory-style windows, mezzanine levels and exposed concrete. It is possibly the only genuine new build development that can be accurately included in the London loft apartment marketplace.
This isn’t to say there aren’t some great new build developments in London. Particular with the smaller niche developers you will find some great modern living spaces that, while not lofts, are nonetheless perfectly excellent places to live and call home. They will give you years of pleasure.
But they’re not lofts.