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The Times Bricks and Mortar - 30 March 2018

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Finding your
forever home
pages 8-9
Love the hotel? Buy the room page 7
Live in an iconic London landmark page 13
2 Bricks & Mortar
1G P
Friday March 30 2018 | the times
A true English
country manor
This sprawling Georgian pile sits in 85 acres
and has 12 bedrooms, says Anna Temkin
t would be hard for someone with
a deep love of the countryside not
to fall for Thorpe Hall. The grade
II* listed house in Wycliffe, near
Barnard Castle, Co Durham, is
surrounded by park and arable
land, with grounds that extend to
85 acres. It dates from the 13th
century, when a peel tower was built by
the Wycliffe family; its Georgian front
was added in 1740 and is an example of
Palladian architecture.
When the present owners bought
Thorpe Hall in 2002, it was derelict and
had been divided into nine flats. Over
five years, and with the help of Mark
Gillette, an interior designer, and Arne
Maynard, a garden designer, they
carried out extensive renovations
to transform the building into a
12-bedroom family home.
Despite its size (22,000 sq ft), it has
a cosy, homely atmosphere, and its
Georgian cornicing and panelling are
complemented by modern touches. Its
transformation won commendations in
the Georgian Group and Historic
Houses Association restoration awards.
?There are not many houses like this
that come to market in such good order,?
says Lindsay Cuthill, the head of the
country house department at Savills,
which is selling Thorpe Hall at a guide
price of �million. ?It is comfortable
and sophisticated, but very much
English country house style.?
The owners have enjoyed shooting on
the nearby Rokeby estate; they have also
held racing parties and let a wet area
and pond from the neighbouring farm
for duck flighting. The River Tees runs
through the grounds.
Cuthill says: ?Inevitably with any
house of this kind, interest comes from
buyers who have a connection to the
area, maybe people returning to their
roots, having had a successful career in
the south; otherwise it might be
someone who has done well in business
and is already based in the north.?
The nearest train station is 14 miles
away in Darlington, which has direct
services to London that take an average
of 2 hours and 40 minutes.
Hall in
has 12
and is on
sale for
with Savills
Prime properties
New-build home
Village setting
Barton, Cambridgeshire
Martock, Somerset
WHAT YOU GET With large windows
and a double-height glazed entrance
hall, this house has plenty of natural
light, while industrial-style features add
character. It has four bedrooms, three
bathrooms, a kitchen/dining area, family
room and sitting room with a built-in
fireplace. The lower-ground floor has a
bedroom, shower room, kitchen and
gym. There is a double garage with a
home office, and landscaped gardens.
WHERE IS IT? The village of Barton,
six miles west of Cambridge.
UPSIDE It?s architecturally interesting.
DOWNSIDE Some people might
prefer lawn to the gravelled gardens.
PRICE �95 million
CONTACT Strutt & Parker,
01223 459501,
WHAT YOU GET This house dates
from the early 19th century and has
elevations made from hamstone. It has
sash windows, period features, four
bedrooms, a bathroom, shower room,
second-floor playroom/fifth bedroom,
study, kitchen/breakfast room, dining
room, study, and an attached garage with
a utility room and workshop. There is a
small front garden and the rear lawn
garden is enclosed by stone walls.
WHERE IS IT? In a village renowned
for its handsome stone period homes.
Martock is seven miles from Yeovil.
UPSIDE The symmetrical fa鏰de.
DOWNSIDE You might want to create
a kitchen better suited to modern living.
PRICE �5,000
CONTACT Knight Frank,
01935 812236,
As featured
on Mansion
the times | Friday March 30 2018
Bricks & Mortar 3
1G P
Make the move to a
pastel-coloured house
Notting Hill, W11
Part of a terrace of elegant Dutch gabled houses painted in ice-cream
shades, this lilac townhouse looks like a setting for a Wes Anderson
film. Inside there are five bedrooms, two reception rooms and a small
garden with direct access on to Lansdown Crescent communal garden.
�25 million,
With a pale-yellow fa鏰de
and green windows, this
refurbished grade II listed
former farmhouse has
four bedrooms and five
reception rooms. Dating
from the 16th century, it
also has exposed beams,
vaulted ceilings and a part
open-plan layout.
This good-sized
one-bedroom apartment
is on the top floor of a
pale-blue period terraced
house on Aldeburgh
seafront. The rooms have
great views, with the front
aspect facing the sea and
the rear looking across
rooftops to the
River Alde.
Country house
WHAT YOU GET A grade II listed
detached house with curved elevations
and large windows, the Grange is set in
an acre of grounds. It has four bedrooms,
three bathrooms, three reception rooms,
a one-bedroom annexe, three attic
rooms, a kitchen/dining room, and an
indoor swimming pool. The gardens
include topiary and mature trees.
WHERE IS IT? In a village ten miles
north of Newark-on-Trent.
UPSIDE The garden.
DOWNSIDE The interior lacks
period details.
PRICE �0,000
CONTACT Fine & Country,
0115 982 2824,
Claire Carponen
On Lavenham?s high
street, this three-bedroom,
15th-century, grade II
listed house has pink
walls with timber beams,
while its interior features
ceiling beams and
comfortable rooms suited
to modern living.
Claire Carponen
Discover a unique selection of luxurious
properties from around the world
Refine your search
Standen House, Andover, UK
In partnership with
the times | Friday March 30 2018
Bricks & Mortar 7
1G P
Flexible homes ?
they are the future
so we can easily adapt the layout of our
homes to suit our changing needs.
Carol Lewis
Deputy property editor
his week we have learnt
that each of us will own
three homes in our
lifetime ? staying in
each property roughly
14 years. Homeowners
in some parts of the
country could stay put
for considerably longer ? up to an
average of almost 20 years.
Before the credit crunch we stayed put
for an average of only nine years,
according to Lucian Cook, the statistical
supremo of Savills. The change is down
to a number of factors, including the
high cost of stamp duty, job insecurity
and wage stagnation. As someone who
has lived in the same flat for more than
20 years, this comes as no surprise.
On pages 8-9 we look at the
implications of the findings; a key one
being the need to adapt our homes as
our requirements change, such as for
the birth of a child, the return of
children from university, divorce,
increased age, or extended family
moving in. Lifetime Homes Standards
mean this is built in, to some extent, in
new homes, but for period properties it
becomes more tricky.
Perhaps modular home-building,
where you have the ability to do things
such as crane in loft extensions,
offers some hope.
However, is it not time for us to go one
step farther and have truly adaptable
homes in which layouts can be changed
more easily?
This is all the more pressing because
new data shows that our homes are the
smallest they have been since the 1930s.
An analysis of 10,000 homes by Lab C,
a company that provides warranties
on new homes, shows that if it?s space
you want you should choose a home
built in the 1970s.
Homes back then averaged 3.53
bedrooms and living rooms were a
spacious 24.89 sq m, compared with the
2.95 bedrooms and 17.09 sq m living
rooms in houses being built today.
Kitchens and master bedrooms were
also larger. Homes built after 2010
are 4 sq m smaller than in the
previous decade.
All of this means more work for
architects as we try to live for longer
hutched up in ever more confined
spaces. What would be better is building
regulations that are more generous in
dimension and allow our homes to
adapt with us ? these need to go
beyond the present lifelong standards.
For instance, surely it is not beyond
the wit of building technology for us
to design homes with moveable walls,
Don?t panic over prices
Headlines for the latest house price
figures by Hometrack have tended
towards the negative. The company?s
press release states, ?House price growth
in London hits seven-year low, with prices
down across two fifths of postcodes,?
followed by, ?Regional cities power
ahead,? added almost as an afterthought.
So let?s get this in context. House
prices have continued to increase in
three fifths of London?s postcodes. The
falls, aside from 7.9 per cent in the City,
are all less than 2 per cent, many less
than 1 per cent. This is hardly a cause for
concern ? yet. As Richard Donnell of
Hometrack points out: ?Average London
house prices are up 86 per cent on 2009
levels, so there is a sizeable equity buffer
to absorb any price falls.?
In other areas of the country, including
Edinburgh, Liverpool, Leicester,
Birmingham and Manchester, house
prices have risen more than 7 per cent.
Property markets in London and the
south may be slowing, but prices in
the north ?remain robust?.
House price movements tend to be
cyclical, so increased investor attention
in the north could push prices up until
supply catches up. Meanwhile, London
may need to sit tight until after Brexit to
see whether demand returns to the city.
Roll on summer
Would someone tell the weather that it?s
officially summertime? You have to
admire our optimism, though. In the
snowy first half of March, one swimming
pool and three swimming costumes a
minute were sold on eBay. And
thousands of us bought plant-related
homeware ? part of a trend to bring
greenery indoors, as the picture below
from Neptune, the furniture company,
shows ? although the weather can stay
out as far as I am concerned.
Anne Ashworth is away
Hotel rooms in Dunsmore Hall in Rugby, Warwickshire, are sold out, but villas are
on sale from �5,000; or you can buy a room in Lakeside Manor country hotel,
below, in Monk Fryston, Yorkshire, from �0,000, both through Select Portfolio
Don?t just stay in a
hotel room, own it
hat do Bob Dylan, Coco
Chanel, the aviator
Howard Hughes and
the actor Richard
Harris have in
common? At some point they all lived
for long periods in hotel rooms.
While living in the Savoy in London,
Harris reportedly spent up to �000 a
week on services, including ordering
sandwiches through room service at
4am. However, the opportunity to
own a room in a hotel isn?t available
only to the very rich.
The number of developments that
allow you to do so have increased in
recent years. They don?t just appeal to
those who love a guaranteed
holiday bolt hole ? they?re
also a way to make rental
yields at a time when
the tax burdens facing
buy-to-let landlords
are increasingly
prohibitive. We
look at the pros
and cons.
Follow us
on Twitter
Potted greenery creates a lush setting for this indoor dining space
How do hotel
schemes work?
The principle is
simple. You buy a room
in a hotel development,
usually for between �,000
and �0,000, and collect rent
on it, with annual yields of between
8 and 10 per cent. You are also able to
stay in it for some of the time. The
hotel will carry out the day-to-day
maintainance of the room, its cleaning,
security and letting.
What can I buy?
The types of property you can buy a
room in vary, from country house luxury
to functional city centre business hotels.
Select Portfolio, an estate agency, is
selling rooms at Lakeside Manor, a
country hotel set in 30 acres of Yorkshire
woodland, which is being renovated by
Northern Powerhouse Developments.
Lodgings are available to buy for
�0,000 to �0,000, with 10 per cent
net return promised for a decade.
Another proposition, the Afan Valley
Adventure Resort, situated in 485 acres
in south Wales, has 400 lodges and 100
luxury hotel rooms.
Properties are available to buy for
between �,000 and �0,000, with 10
per cent annual rental yield. The resort
estimates that it will attract 5,000
visitors weekly once it is completed in
mid-2020. Dunsmore Hall in Rugby,
Warwickshire, is a country pile dating
from 1791 that is being transformed into
a luxury country house hotel. The hotel
rooms are sold, but villas are available
for �5,000 to �9,000.
You have the option to stay in your
room free for a fortnight each year, some
for longer, allowing you to enjoy the
hotel?s creature comforts. ?Our buyers
use Llandudno Bay [already open, with
all units sold] for bank holiday weekends,
but somewhere like Lakeside Manor is
tailored for buyers to use for a week at a
time,? says Michael Reilly, the sales
director at Select Portfolio.
How does it compare
to buy-to-let?
Your overheads and tax
burden will be smaller,
but so will your
potential for returns.
Unlike buy-to-let
investments, you
don?t pay stamp
duty on purchases
up to �0,000
(most hotel rooms
fall beneath the
threshold) and hotel
schemes offer
guaranteed rental yields.
But the return you receive is
static, and the price guests pay for
your room is set by the hotel. Also, the
value of your investment won?t rise like
it does with most buy-to-lets.
You?re also reliant on someone else?s
business model. If a hotel fails, you face
the prospect of having your investment
returned to you and making a difficult
sale. Be careful which schemes you
invest in. ?Look at the location carefully,
and check how good the operator is,?
says Gavin Woodhouse, the chairman of
Northern Powerhouse Developments.
Can I sell it?
Yes. A secondary market is opening
up for hotel rooms, with many
buyers selling on Rightmove. The
opportunity to reclaim your property
with ease when you wish to is important,
Woodhouse says.
?Make sure you reserve the right to
take control of your unit and sell it if you
want to.? In some circumstances a hotel
operator will give you a guaranteed price
at which you can sell the room back to
the management after a certain period.
This will give you a sense of security.
David Byers
8 Bricks & Mortar
1G P
Friday March 30 2018 | the times
Why we
want homes
that last
a lifetime
People are staying put for longer, so they
require properties that can adapt to suit
their changing needs, says Jessie Hewitson
e will be
likely to move
home less
often in the
according to
published this
week. Before the credit crunch people
bought a new home on average five
times in their lifetime; in future it?s likely
to be three. This means that the typical
person might buy their first home, move
to their second ?forever home? ? the
one where they stay for 20 years ? then
downsize. That?s it. Our property life
cycle, from first to last home, now
involves two fewer moves than used to
be the case as recently as 2007.
Some homeowners embarking on
buying their second home are doing so
in the knowledge that they will stay
there for nearly two decades. Others,
however, are stuck living in a home that
they thought would be the one before
their forever home, but they have ended
up staying much longer than anticipated.
Lucian Cook, the head of residential
research at Savills, crunched the
numbers using transaction data provided
by HM Revenue & Customs and UK
Finance. ?There is little doubt that since
the credit crunch we have been moving
less often,? he says. The figures show
that transactions have reached a ?new
normal? of 1.2 million a year, down from
1.67 million before the 2008 crash. He
adds that pre-credit crunch homes used
to change hands on average once every
9 years, but ?this has been pushed to
once every 14 years ? and sometimes
as much as 20?.
The Savills research shows how quickly
our habits have changed: between 2003
and 2007 the typical time frame between
house moves was 11 years, but during the
credit-crunch years, when the property
market crashed, this changed to 29 years.
Now the average is 14 years, almost an
entire childhood: in some cases
homeowners are moving in with a baby
and moving out with a teenager.
Cook says that the reason this is
happening is because younger people
can?t afford to buy, retired people can?t
find any decent homes to downsize to,
and those in between are struggling to
find people to sell to.
Meanwhile, tougher mortgage
regulations introduced after the credit
A home that is ideal for a family with
young children might be less than
perfect for a couple with teenagers or
an elderly relative living with them.
If you are going to live in your home
for longer, it will need to be adaptable,
and increasingly architects are being
asked for flexible designs to cater for
long-term living.
Edward Church, the head of Strutt &
Parker in Canterbury, Kent, says: ?One
of the most popular types of houses on
the market is one that needs to be done
up and I think that?s because you can
be flexible with a fixer-upper and make
money over [the time that you own it].
A house that lends itself to an
extension or improvement will work in
the same way. For example, an annexe
built for an au pair may later become
a B&B room to let for extra money,
before accommodating a carer
later in life.?
Amos Goldreich of Amos Goldreich
Architecture says: ?Every space needs
This six-bedroom house in Steeple Ashton, Wiltshire, has room for more bedrooms and is on sale for �million throug
On the cover In Mattingley, Hampshire, this five-bedroom house is on the market for �825 million through Knight Fr
crunch have meant that the amounts
people can borrow are smaller, and
homeowners in some parts of the UK,
where price growth has been low,
?struggle to have accumulated enough
equity to trade up the housing ladder?,
he says. There is also the issue that many
of us haven?t felt particularly wealthy or
secure in our employment since 2008,
with UK workers? earnings, including
bonuses, going up by an annual 2.8 per
cent ? below the rate of inflation.
At the upper end of the property
market there are two words likely to
cause instant fury when dropped into a
conversation with an estate agent ?
stamp duty. The fact that it has
increased for homes above the top
threshold has badly affected the rate
at which these homes are being bought.
Cath and Paul Shuttlewood are a
good example of this scenario. They
Ade Architecture extended this house
in Wandsworth, southwest London
to be multifunctional, with playrooms
doubling up as guest rooms for
grandparents. Loft conversions are
popular converted into a master
bedroom for parents when the children
are small and given to the children as a
teenage refuge when they are older.?
In Capel, Surrey, this
eight-bedroom house is
on sale for �2 million
(Sotheby?s International)
bought their first home together, a
two-bedroom Victorian terraced house
in Shrewsbury, Shropshire, in September
2004. They stayed put until last year,
when they bought a five-bedroom house
in the same area, where they live with
Nick Stockley, a co-founder of, an online architecture
service, says: ?Rising house prices have
meant that people have to weigh up
moving, which will cost, say, �0,000,
with a loft extension that will cost
�,000 ? and they decide to extend
the loft. Also many say their children
are settled at school, so they don?t want
to move, but need more space.
?A common complaint about
Victorian houses is that they are
top- heavy, with more bedroom space
than living space, meaning the family
is disconnected, all in different rooms.
So we might suggest a wraparound
extension on the ground floor to give a
large dining and living room where
they can be together,? Stockley says.
?We also regularly create loft
conversions with a bedroom and
bathroom for a teenager, while garden
annexes are popular ancillary
accommodation for teenagers,
returning children or elderly relatives.
You have to consider the financial
feasibility of basement digs, though. It
is so costly that it is only worth it if it is
in an area of high house prices and a
property you intend staying in for
10 to 20 years.?
Daniel Adeshile, the founder of Ade
Architecture, says that for those who
are spending on a basement dig,
forward planning is important.
?Think about how a playroom and
nanny?s bedroom might become a
self-contained flat for older children
or grandparents,? he says.
However, flexibility and adaptability
don?t have to be expensive. ?People
with young children often want an
open-plan living space, so they can be
together, but teenagers will want their
own space, which is when pocket doors
and glazed walls can be useful. We
either design them in at the beginning
or we come back later and install
them,? Adeshile says.
Carol Lewis
the times | Friday March 30 2018
Bricks & Mortar 9
1G P
Lasting traits
6 Make sure you live close to good
transport links so that you are less
of a taxi service for your teenage
children and you have more options
if you need to change jobs.
6 Families planning to have children,
or with children, need to think beyond
primary schools and move to an
area with good nurseries and
secondary schools too.
6 When buying new-build homes
check for Lifetime Homes standards,
which ensure that properties
incorporate design features to
make them adaptable for all
generations, from young families
to older people.
6 On older homes check that there is
room for expansion so you can extend
the house or build in the garden.
gh Savills
Why the
world is
falling for
online and
in tablet
their daughter, Evie. ?It was about going
for it, rather than taking mini hops up
the property ladder,? says Cath, a
freelance public relations consultant.
The Shuttlewoods estimate that they
have saved �,000 by not making the
extra move; had they moved twice it
would have cost them �,000. Instead
they focused on paying off the mortgage
on their first home, which they nearly
achieved, and using this equity they
managed to keep the mortgage down
on their forever home.
Not many agents will admit it, but
concerns over the long-term health of
the property market are likely to be
playing a big role too. If you are worried
that house prices will start falling, you
are likely to stay put, or if you do buy a
property, you don?t want to have to move
again in the near future.
Charles Curran, the principal and
data analyst at Maskells, an estate
agency, believes that the market is
likely to get worse before it gets better.
He believes the impact of poor
wage inflation on the property market
has been tempered by our access to
low interest rates, but this is about to
change with a much-predicted Bank of
England rate rise next month and the
ending of Funding for Lending, a
government scheme that allows banks to
borrow money cheaply.
?People are finding property
expensive, regardless of stamp duty,?
says Curran. ?Some would-be buyers are
thinking, ?If we buy now, will we make
5 per cent [capital growth] per annum?
Probably not.? And if interest rates go up,
as they surely will, people will start
questioning whether they can really
afford to buy. All this is happening
in a time of economic uncertainty
because of Brexit.?
Curran, who founded his own estate
agency, is keeping his home in Chelsea,
southwest London, and moving out of
the capital. Instead of selling his home
at a discount and buying a new home
with a large stamp-duty bill, he has
decided to rent.
?A lot of my friends are moving out
of London too, but we?re all renting
because of stamp duty. For me it?s also
because I don?t want to sell my house in
London. Having a house in Chelsea is
like being in an expensive members? club.
It?s expensive to join, it?s difficult to get
into and I?m not handing my
membership in at a discount.?
Curran has worked out that the
stamp duty and the maintenance he
would pay to buy a house is the
equivalent to seven years? rent. And if
an estate agent is making the decision
not to buy, but to rent instead, it gives us
all extra pause for thought.
pring is often quoted as the best
time to put property on the
market ? the weather should be
warming up, the garden looks
good and people will be thinking
about moving in time for the start of the
new school year.
James Mackenzie, the head of Strutt &
Parker?s country house department, says:
?Things are already moving much
quicker now. We have had a flurry of
calls about country houses on the
outskirts of Bath, Bristol and in the
idyllic English villages that surround
Soho Farmhouse in Great Tew [in
Oxfordshire]. If it?s a plan to move, my
advice would be to get on with it.? Here
are the experts? tips on preparing your
home for a spring sale.
First impressions
Rupert Sweeting, the head of country
house sales at Knight Frank, says:
?Remember the small details that will
make first and last impressions count. It
is key to make sure that everything looks
perfect on the drive, the front lawn and
the garden.?
Rupert Lawson Johnston, a partner in
Strutt & Parker?s Salisbury office, says:
?The front garden is one of the most
underrated selling tools. Mow the lawn,
keep plants fresh and colourful, and in
the back, put out garden furniture.
?From getting your windows cleaned
to hanging flower baskets, these simple
touches will make visitors feel excited
about your home. Ensure the doorbell
works and lay down a welcome mat.?
Tidy up
Sweeting says: ?Inside, declutter, keep
rooms tidy and clean the carpets if
needed. In short, make sure the rooms
look their best. It?s also a good idea to air
rooms as much as possible, especially if
dogs or cats live in the house.
?I also don?t recommend that sellers
undertake a lot of work when trying to
sell ? such as redoing a tired kitchen or
bathroom ? as often the new buyers
will want to make their own changes to a
property and may not share the vendors?
tastes or styles,? he says.
Lawson Johnston says: ?Presenting
your home in the best possible light is
essential. This entails decluttering, a
fresh lick of paint where necessary,
keeping to neutral tones and a ?less is
more? approach to decoration, letting in
as much natural light as possible.?
He adds: ?Hide your pets on the day.
People might not be dog or cat lovers
like you, and you don?t want to put off
potential buyers with a bad smell.?
Picture perfect
Sweeting says: ?If you?re relaunching to
the market this spring, consider shooting
new photographs for the brochure and
online listing. A small refresh such as
new images can give a marketing
campaign the boost it needs.?
Lawson Johnston adds: ?Photos are
the ?shop window? to selling your house
and therefore should be of the highest
quality. Ask to approve the photography
This four-bedroom cottage in Shifnal, Shropshire, is on sale for �9,500. Below: a
restored five-bedroom house in Wimbledon is �495 million (both with Savills)
Spring into action
to sell your house
and don?t be scared to ask for it to be
reshot if it is not good enough. Never
have your car in the drive and avoid
having personal photos on display.
?A floor plan is considered essential
for all houses on the market. Ensure
yours looks clean, includes room sizes
and has a compass so prospective buyers
can understand the aspects of all rooms.
Buyers often look to floor plans for ways
to maximise space. They become crucial
when deciding if a house has the
longevity to work for a
growing family [see
articles left],? he says.
The viewing
Rupert Reeves,
a partner in the
Newbury office of
Carter Jonas, says:
?Ask a good friend,
whose judgment you
trust, to do a dummy
viewing. Establish their
first impressions when
they walk up the drive or
into the entrance hall. What
do they make of the decor? Are
there minor adjustments that could
be made? Push them for honesty ?
you?ll rest assured when the first
viewings take place.?
Sweeting adds: ?Work out the best
route in which to show the buyers the
house. However, let the agent do the
viewing on their first visit. You will be
more help on their return visit.?
However, Lawson Johnston says:
?Never get too involved with viewers.
In High Easter, near Chelmsford, Essex, this seven-bedroom Georgian parsonage
has a pool, cinema and tennis court. It is on sale for �6 million through Savills
You are there to help potential buyers
navigate their way around the house,
offer tea and coffee and answer any
questions. Don?t tell them your life story.
And never prevent access to certain
parts of the home. This will only set
alarm bells ringing. If it?s clutter you?re
hiding, rent out storage space.?
Price realistically
Tom Page, the manager of Fyfe Mcdade?s
office in Shoreditch, east London,
says: ?There used to be an
argument for pricing a
property high and
trying your luck.
However, there are
no longer enough
buyers in the
market for
properties to get
attention. Buyers are
more informed and
stick more rigidly to
their budgets. Pricing a
home realistically will lead
to maximum impact on initial
marketing, meaning more inquiries,
more viewings and potential offers.?
Watch your words
Reeves says: ?It?s critical to think about
the language used around a sales price.
An ?asking price? lays your cards on the
table, whereas a ?guide price? or ?offers in
the region of? suggest there is room to
negotiate, and in the current market
buyers will take their chances, which can
create delays when agreeing a price.?
No interest?
Reeves says: ?If your property is
stagnating with few viewings booked in,
have a frank conversation with the
agent. Don?t allow the agent to distract
you by arranging an open house; they
are gimmicks that only work when a
house is receiving a lot of interest.
Lawson Johnston says: ?Be prepared to
review your expectations. I sold a house
earlier this year that had been on the
market for three months with no offers.
When we dropped the price by 5 per
cent it went to sealed bids that week and
it sold for the original guide price. Be
patient, listen to advice and adapt.?
Carol Lewis
10 Bricks & Mortar
1G P
Friday March 30 2018 | the times
Go green: how to
style indoor plants
From cacti to yuccas,
Francesca Steele sets
out how to match the
right plants ? and
pots ? to your decor
ny millennial worth
their salt these days
has a house plant ?
apparently. At the
very least, a lowmaintenance cactus
on a window sill, or
possibly a tall Swiss
cheese plant dominating a corner of a
poky flat, to get that garden feel without
actually having a garden. Yet it?s not
only the cash-strapped with no outside
space who are filling their homes with
greenery. Plant suppliers such as Ikea,
Crocus and Patch report growing sales
of indoor plants to buyers of all ages and
backgrounds. Not since the 1970s has
our enthusiasm for house plants been so
great. How you style your house plants
? where you put them, how you plant
them and which ones you buy ? can
vary, depending on the type of home you
have. Here are some tips to help you to
find the right plants for your space.
0 If it?s a 1970s feel that you?re after (as
well as something low-maintenance),
Monstera deliciosa (the Swiss cheese
plant) is a great place to start, says
Joanna Thornhill, an interiors stylist
whose clients include Oak Furniture
Land. She also recommends palms and
A selection of succulents
in b.for diamond
round pots, from �29
( Above right:
indoor plants at Oak
Furniture Land, styled
by Joanna Thornhill
yuccas. ?With an intrinsic retro vibe,
they work wonderfully with mid-century
furnishings or as a foil to a clean,
contemporary loft-style space,? she says.
Thornhill advises going ?as large as you
can for optimal impact?. If you want a bit
more green after that you can add
smaller, similarly retro plants, such as a
Chinese money plant, purple-leafed
calathea or near-indestructible spider
plants (Chlorophytum comosum) to
bookshelves or display cabinets.
0 For small spaces, choose cacti and
other ?succulents? ? a catch-all term for
plants that retain a lot of water, meaning
they are quite resistant to a bit of
neglect. Try potting them in unusual
containers, such as old tea-pots or glass
jars, to add interest; just make sure
you line them with some gravel first
to add drainage.
Cluster a number of small succulents
together for a quirky table centrepiece,
or opt for a large statement cactus.
the times | Friday March 30 2018
Bricks & Mortar 11
1G P
Above: Pure amphora
pot, from �9
( Left: for
maximum impact stick
mainly to one type of
plant, such as ferns.
Below: Queen character
plant pots, from �.95
0 Air plants, which grow without soil,
can look striking in a contemporary
interior. They need only sunlight and an
occasional spritz of water to survive and
can be placed poking out of shells,
perched in a teacup or suspended in
hanging display holders. For a more
traditional look, consider flowering
plants such as geraniums or a peace lily,
with its elegant leaves and classic
teardrop flowers, in a glazed ceramic
pot. ?The humble English ivy can also
add a touch of classic
romanticism when left to
trail from a tall shelving unit,?
says Thornhill. ?Just don?t go
overboard or you might
inadvertently turn your
living room into Miss
Havisham?s boudoir.?
0 Freddie Blackett, the
co-founder of Patch, a company
that supplies and maintains plants
I own a leasehold mews
house, although the
garage space below is
not included in the lease.
Do I have the right to
buy the freehold of the
mews house?
for urban gardens, says that styling
house plants successfully depends less
on the plants and more on their
containers. ?The majority of house
plants are tropical or desert plants and
most have large dark-green leaves. You
get different shapes, of course, but the
biggest thing you can do to differentiate
is with the pots you pick. Basic terracotta
pots suit a minimalist decor, while the
Nordic concrete planters favoured by
designers such as H黚sch are a
must-have for fans of mid-century style
or rooms with lots of wood,? he says.
Traditionalists are always better off
with glazed ceramics and the classic
blue-and-white designs are enduringly
popular. For maximum impact, stick
mainly to one style and throw in a few
other ones here and there. Whatever
your style, your collection should look
like just that ? things that you have
collected over the years, rather than
bought in one go to match up.?
0 Is your place really small? Get
creative, says Shalini Misra, the
interior designer. ?Place a
single fern in a hanging
basket in the corner, or
terrariums underneath a
glass coffee table to utilise
what little space you have.
In larger spaces, such as a
wall corner, a large, tall
potted plant or a sculptural
piece, such as a bonsai, can be
integrated just as you would a
piece of art.? If you have room
for larger pots, oversized
containers can make a
statement whatever the size of
the room.
The writer
is a
Residential leaseholders
have two basic rights to
buy the freehold of their
building under leasehold
legislation. The original
right under the Leasehold
Reform Act 1967 is
enjoyed by owners of
leasehold houses.
The meaning of the
word ?house? is defined
by section 2(1) of the 1967
act to include ?any
building that is designed
or adapted for living in?
and which can reasonably
be called a house.
Furthermore, section 2(2)
provides that the right to
buy the freehold does not
apply if a ?material part?
of it ?lies above or below
a part of the structure not
included in the house?.
The meaning of the word
?house? in this context
has been considered in
numerous appeal court
cases, including no fewer
than five decisions of
the House of Lords/
Supreme Court.
Yet it is clear enough
that the top half of a
property (such as a flat
above a garage) will not
be treated as a ?house?
within the definition in
section 2(1). It will also be
excluded by section 2(2).
The more recent right
is enjoyed by leaseholders
of flats who may
collectively acquire the
freehold of their block
under Chapter 1 Part 1 of
the Leasehold Reform
Housing and Urban
Development act 1993.
The right can be
exercised by a majority of
qualifying tenants in the
building. Under section 3
of the 1993 Act, the
premises must consist of a
self-contained building or
part of a building that
?contain two or more
flats? let on long
residential leases. So a
mews property with only
one flat in it would not
qualify for collective
enfranchisement under
section 3 of the 1993 act.
Your property does not
satisfy either test for
leasehold enfranchisement.
Unless your lease
comprises the whole of
the mews house, you have
no statutory right to
acquire the freehold.
Mark Loveday
Email your question to:
the times | Friday March 30 2018
Bricks & Mortar 13
1G P
In partnership with
Centre Point takes inner-city
living to a super-prime level
The views from this
iconic 1960s tower
on London?s Oxford
Street are to die for,
says Anna Temkin
hen Centre
Point was
grade II listed
status in
1995, English
called it
?one of the most distinctive high-rise
compositions of the 1960s?.
The brutalist masterpiece was
commissioned by Harry Hyams, the
property tycoon who ? with Richard
Seifert and Partners, the architect ?
shaped the skyline of postwar London.
Standing at the eastern end of Oxford
Street, the 117m-high tower was, for a
time, the tallest building in the city;
today it is the tallest luxury residential
building in the West End.
After it was completed in 1966 it
became a symbol of controversy.
Against a backdrop of rising property
prices and protests over homelessness,
Hyams allowed it to stand empty for
nine years, hoping that he would be able
to find a single tenant (which turned out
to be wildly optimistic).
The skyscraper was acquired in 2011
by Almacantar, a property investment
and development company. It has since
been transformed into the pinnacle of
London?s super-prime property market
? arguably a rival to CPC Group?s
glitzy One Hyde Park in Knightsbridge,
which launched in 2011 and is a haven
for plutocrats.
After lengthy planning negotiations
with Camden council, the
redevelopment of Centre Point began in
2015. ?It?s a modern take on the 1960s,?
says Tim Bowder-Ridger, the chief
executive of Conran and Partners, the
architectural design studio working with
Almacantar. ?The iconic nature of the
building is its exoskeleton frame.
Working with its spirit was the trick:
we wanted people to feel that the
building was always like this. You
can see it from everywhere in the West
End. Our brief was to reconnect the
1960s with now, with London as a
focal point of creativity.?
?And to make it James
Bond-like,? says Mike
Hussey, the chief
executive of
?I didn?t want it to
feel like a Four
Seasons hotel, like
so many super-prime
It would certainly be
possible to imagine 007
enjoying a drink, shaken
not stirred, in one of the
stylishly dressed show
apartments by Conran and Partners.
There are 82 apartments, ranging
from one-bedroom (starting at
�825 million) to a five-bedroom
Linda Plant
A premium three-bedroom apartment starts at �5 million (Knight Frank, CBRE). Below: Centre Point?s
reception hall. Bottom: two-bedroom apartments in the building start from �1 million (Knight Frank, CBRE)
duplex penthouse (� million), for sale
through Knight Frank and CBRE. There
is a maximum of four apartments on
each floor.
In December the first
residents began moving
in. ?About half of the
apartments have been
sold and 12 of them
are occupied,?
Hussey says.
Buy-to-let investors
have been primarily
drawn towards the
one and two-bedroom
flats, with a large
proportion from the Far
East; they can expect net
rental yields of between
2.5 and 3 per cent, Hussey says.
Meanwhile, more than 50 per cent of
the three-bedroom apartments have
been bought by British owner-occupiers
? many, no doubt, creative types lured
View the UK?s most
luxurious residential
In partnership with
by the chance to be within walking
distance of so many theatres, galleries
and museums.
The lower levels of the tower block
are reserved for residents? amenities,
which include a 30m swimming pool
overlooking Oxford Street, a gym,
screening room and spa. Service
charges work out at � a square foot,
which also covers the 24-hour concierge
and security.
The development?s premium range
of apartments, known as the Vantage
Collection, take up floors 18 to 30 of the
34-storey building, and prices range
from �5 million to �5 million. The
jewel in the crown ? the duplex
penthouse on the 33rd and 34th floors
? has 7,223 sq ft of living space and a
360-degree wraparound terrace with
views across the city; St Paul?s Cathedral,
Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament
are among the recognisable landmarks.
Even the protected views from the
lower levels of the building are
something to behold.
When the Tottenham Court Road
Crossrail station, beneath the
development, opens later this year,
it is estimated that there will be
83,000 people an hour passing through
it during peak times. They will be able
to stroll through Centre Point?s
pedestrianised square, designed by
Rick Mather Architects, where shops
and restaurants will start to move in
over the summer.
Hussey says that the piazza will act
as a gateway to Covent Garden and be
a boon for Crossrail. ?Previously, people
coming from the station would have
been walking out on to a 2m-wide
pavement, so we needed something
that would absorb that foot traffic.?
Confirmed retailers include Vapiano,
the Italian deli, and Rhubarb, the caterer
behind the Sky Garden at 20 Fenchurch
Street, which plans to open a 13,000 sq ft
restaurant, Vivi at Centre Point.
Sushisamba is also rumoured to be
moving in ? not that buyers need
anything more to tempt them.
inda Plant, the interior designer
and entrepreneur, became
known as ?the Queen of
Mean? as an interviewer on
the BBC One television show
The Apprentice.
She owns a property management
and interior design company, Homerun
Services, and has recently launched
a furniture range, Plant Collections,
offering ?mid-century classics with a
modern twist?.
Growing up in Leeds, Plant worked
on her mother?s market stall, which
sold handbags and costume jewellery.
She founded Honeysuckle, the clothing
company, before turning her attention
to the property world. Her favourite
room at home is the dining room.
?Its colour theme is green and black,
with a bronze ceiling. The room is
dominated by a mid-century table and
has a 1960s chandelier. Beyond that, the
room opens up into an area with a bar,?
she says.
W What is your biggest source of
design inspiration? I love pretty much
anything from Gio Ponti, which is
where my inspiration comes from for
my mid-century collection. Think lots
of walnut, brass, gloss and velvet ?
that?s really my style.
W Chintz or minimalism? Neither.
Homes need to feel like proper homes
you can live in and enjoy.
W Your favourite interior design
?quick-fix?? A mirror. It can make all
the difference to how the space appears.
Combine that with suitable pendant
lighting and floor lamps (even if you
already have spotlights in a room)
and it will make a massive difference.
W The design pitfall to avoid?
Anything too minimalist. It lacks
comfort and doesn?t give any kind
of warmth to a room. I?m also not
a great fan of single-colour beige
rooms. Generally, all rooms need
to have elements of colour to frame
them properly.
W If you could live in anyone?s
house whose would it be and why?
Definitely Albert Pinto. Assuming
his home was anything like his design
work, I would happily live there.
W The best piece of design advice
you have received? Do it your way.
People can advise you, but if
you have a feeling and an
eye, stick to your guns.
Also make sure you have
an identity and religiously
stick to it. Homes need
a constant theme
throughout to
make them work
as a whole.
Anna Temkin
14 Bricks & Mortar
1G P
Friday March 30 2018 | the times
Discreet chic on France?s west coast
Britons are buying in
La Baule, with its
elegant villas and
five-star hotels, says
Liz Rowlinson
ne of the
beneficiaries of the
resurgent property
market of Paris is
a chic coastal town
on the Atlantic coast
of France called
La Baule-Escoublac.
Known simply as La Baule, the
century-old seaside resort sits on one
of the longest bays in Europe ? a
9km crescent of fine sand backed by
elegant belle 閜oque villas, casinos
and five-star hotels.
Affluent Parisians dominate the
second-home market in La Baule and at
a time of historically low interest rates
they are buying again. Property prices
rose 4.5 per cent in 2017, boosted by
an increase in international buyers,
according to David Bilder of La Baule &
Vous, an estate agency affiliated to
Christie?s International Real Estate.
?Very much seen as discreet glamour
or selling
Trust us to take care of
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No transfer fees for private clients
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cubic contemporary homes [?1.3 million
to ?1.5 million],? says Bilden, although
prices can be substantially higher.
Christie?s has a 550 sq m property in
Benoit on the market for ?7.5 million.
Le quartier des Oiseaux (?the district
of the birds?), with streets of elegant
turn-of-the-century villas, as well as the
Pointe de Pench鈚eau in Pouliguen, are
the two other most requested places for
homes, according to Etienne de Gibon,
the associate director of Barnes
International, an estate agency. ?Two
old building renovations have also been
a great success [for turnkey apartments]:
R閟idence Rivi閞a and Villa Cavali鑢e.
Buyers like the charm of the old
combined with the comfort of the new
[a lift, parking],? he says.
Gibon has a large one-bedroom
property with a garden, terrace and
two parking spaces in Villa Cavali鑢e,
150m from the beach in La Baule-lesPins ? an area of wide avenues with
compared to the glitz and razzmatazz of
This four-bedroom
a central square ? for ?426,000.
the south of France, La Baule offers
house in Pornichet is on
British buyers who wish to dip into the
better value [than the C魌e d?Azur] and a
sale for ?1.499 million
glamour of La Baule, but don?t want to
more local feel,? he says.
(Christie?s International)
pay the premium on properties there,
?French celebrities like the privacy
should look inland, says Sally Pitcher, a
of the town. The Hollywood couple
local agent at Leggett Immobilier.
Marion Cotillard and Guillaume Canet
Brittany is the fourth most popular area
are regulars. The attraction is the
for British buyers in France, with 10.3
beautiful bays, beachfront patisseries,
La Roche-Bernard
per cent of the market share for the
seafood restaurants, medieval
agent. ?Sailors will often buy a lockarchitecture, and year-round
up-and-leave apartment in one of
cultural events ? film and jazz
festivals, polo, horse racing,
Bri鑢e Nantes the marinas, she says. ?On the
River Vilaine the marina town
sailing, golf and music concerts.?
of La Roche-Bernard [just over
Bilder says that the agency?s
Natural Park
the border in Brittany] is very
international client base makes up
La Baule-Escoublac
5 miles
popular ? it?s a petite cit� de
about 30 per cent of business, with
caract鑢e, with cultural interest,
the British, Swiss, Belgians and
architectural heritage [a cobbled
Luxembourgers leading the charge.
Saintartisan quarter] and a year-round
Expats from these mainland Europe
Le Pouliguen
community. You can buy a two-bedroom
destinations are ?returning in force?,
renovated apartment overlooking
according to Jacques Dobrowolski, an
the port for ?150,000.?
associate at Bretagne Sud Sotheby?s
She says that those who love sailing
International Realty, an estate agency.
are also attracted to Arzal and Folleux
?La Baule struggles to position itself as
near by. ?Sailors love this coast because
an international destination, but within
they can get moorings for 10 per cent of
France it is part of the group of resorts
the price of one in southwest England,
that includes Saint-Tropez, Deauville,
so the difference in cost pays for their
Biarritz and 蝜e de R�,? he says. ?It is one
holiday home. In Arzal you can get a
of the few cities by the ocean that has a
two-bedroom apartment overlooking the
life year-round; the beach restaurants
port for ?215,000. The other popular
stay open and the gastronomic offering
type of property is the traditional stone
is outstanding in the town, especially the
long鑢e [a single-storey rectangularprestigious Groupe Barri鑢e resort [of
shaped building] of the region covered in
which there is also one in Deauville].?
roses or wisteria. You can get one of
La Baule is located only 50 minutes
these for ?250,000, or a larger one that
from the city of Nantes and its
runs as a successful chambre d?h魌e
international airport, or a three-hour
business from about ?450,000.?
drive from the ferry port at Saint-Malo,
The agency has a very charming
and there?s an airport in town for private
blue-shuttered example in La
jets. For Parisians it is a four-and-a-halfRoche-Bernard, with eight bedrooms,
hour drive. For some of them, an elegant
that runs as a popular B&B and g顃e
villa tucked away in the pine forests is
complex and is for sale for ?599,960
the perfect place to hold summer parties
? the pine forests date from 1849, when
the trees were planted to stabilise the
sands of the bay.
The town sits between Le Pouliguen
to the west and Pornichet to the east.
Locally nicknamed ?les dr鬺es de dames?
(the funny ladies), behind them lies
40,000 hectares of the Bri鑢e Regional
Natural Park, a vast patch of marshland
that is home to 60 per cent of France?s
thatched cottages.
The most sought-after location is
Benoit, in the streets behind the finewhite sand of Benoit beach, along with
De Gaulle, the commercial centre, and
Lajarrige, a more natural area of pine
forests where plots are larger. ?In La
Baule two-bedroom seafront apartments
cost from ?700,000, but the most
popular types of property are 1900 to
1920s four-bedroom villas for ?1 million,
In La Roche-Bernard, Morbihan, this eight-bedroom stone long鑢e
art deco houses [about ?1.2 million] and
in 1.5 acres of parkland is on sale for ?599,960 through Leggett
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