London: The Luxury Mews

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One new kind of property that has become popular for investors and purchasers are the luxury mews homes which can be found for sale in the London neighbourhoods of Belgravia and Knightsbridge. Their location can be appealing as they are usually off the main street thus providing a private and quiet living space. Savills (Savills.com) has reported that the demand for mews properties increased 12% over the past year. Those interested have been Americans and Europeans, but now Middle Eastern buyers are joining in. Mews properties were originally small cottages for keeping horses in, but because of their manageable size and location they have become alternative and attractive properties. One report suggests that there are approximately 6000 mews homes available in London.

Oliver Lurot  of Savills’ mews department recently told The Telegraph about interested buyers, “They may have rented a mews for a short time because it is seen as very British, but they wouldn’t have bought it. Now there’s more of an awareness of these hidden gems.”


Mews Sales

Not surprisingly are the prices that are being asked for these mews homes. On a square foot basis its reported that for Wilton Row in Knightsbridge the costs are £2,500-£3,500 per sq ft, Lennox Gardens Mews, Chelsea – £2,400-£3,000 per sq ft and Hyde Park Gardens Mews, Paddington – £1,800-£2,300 per sq ft.

The mews property tends to be smaller than other luxury homes that are listed and therefore renovation permission is easier. The taking down of walls, opening the living space and adding all the modern touches found in the more expensive homes in the city has become popular. Properties that have not been converted are sometimes sold with the necessary planning permissions for future building changes.

Research by Savills has shown that the average value of mews homes in central London has increased from £350,955 in 2005 to £2,346,227 this year.

As is the case in other parts of London, basements additions have also become a part of the mews home.

Duncan Petrie of Savills stated in the Telegraph “Many have had basements added – unheard of 15 years ago – and we are seeing exciting new features in mews houses, such as living walls, lifts, retractable ceilings and the use of glass walls and floors to increase the flow of natural light.”

One property Savills listed was a four bedroom home in Ennismore Mews in Knightsbridge with an asking price of £7.75million. The property had gone through a conversion including a former garage that was made into a 22 foot long sitting room.

One of the drawbacks of mews homes is their lack of outdoor space but this has been remedied with the addition of a balcony and/or roof terraces.

One home on Reeves Mews in Mayfair sold for a record £24million after having been heavily refurbished to being 6,249 sq. feet.

The largest mews home to be offered is on Wilton Mews, Belgravia with six bedrooms, on five floors with a lift and 9,803 sq. feet. The property also includes a finished basement and pool with a price of £36.5million.


Mews or Towers?

So would London residents prefer a cozy mews home or life in a larger apartment in a residential tower. In a survey earlier this year Create Streets found that most would prefer the smaller mews home with it’s more traditional home appeal.

Nicholas Boys Smith of Create Streets was quoted in the Hackney Citizen saying, ‘…the current “vicious circle” of limited housing supply and high land costs is leading to a built form which is less popular and people don’t want to live in”. Rather CS advocates ‘…for the creation of more and better urban homes with terraced streets of houses and apartments, rather than complex multi-storey buildings.

“Only a small minority of people prefer to live in tower blocks,” he says. Research by his social enterprise tells him that most of us, particularly families, prefer buildings “of a more human scale”.

Mews homes typically allow for additions to be extended up or down as the width of the home is limited. To solve this issue, Oliver Lurot of Savills’ mews department recommends:

Buying up the street, I have a buyer at the moment that is looking for three mews houses in a row so he can merge them into one. Of course, with only about 6,000 mews houses in London, it’s not an easy task.”

By Kevin Murphy: www.kevinmurphy.london

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