Simon Barnes on amalgamating property in Prime Central London, a trend being followed by buyers, investors and celebrities.
Belgravia and Mayfair are peppered with large grand residences and mews houses which date back to Georgian and Victorian times when each big house would own a mews houses to accommodate by staff, horses and carriage. In wartime years and the post war era over time these large residences were deemed impractical and too expensive to maintain and gradually mews houses were sold off separately.
Today, the mews house is very much an established property ‘genre’ – often quirky, ‘cool’ and well located in a prime central yet quiet cobbled street. However, now the property cycle has come full circle and increasingly there is a demand from buyers with bottomless budgets to reclaim and ‘marry’ back the mews house with the main residence, restoring both to their former glory. In doing this, hungry buyers gain increased security and privacy, essential private parking and staff accommodation, all part of everyday luxury living in Prime Central London.
For example, take Green Street a mixture of traditional red brick houses, then changing to Portland stone. Behind the period façades only a handful of these houses enjoy a wonderful outlook over a private communal garden, while some look over a school or neighbouring property, but this is a secret few share.
The trend to sell off and convert mews houses over the years has not escaped Mayfair, so again knowing where to find these prized houses still in possession of their own mews is something of a skill. Take Charles Street with its seemingly narrow houses, insiders know there are just a sprinkling of houses including their original mews house.
Amalgamating Property in Prime Central London
A little while back, H. Barnes & Co bought a house in Upper Grosvenor Street dating back to the late 1700’s. The main house had become too expensive to maintain with families having moved out years before and offices taking the space over before becoming empty for a number of years. Originally, the house had also owned the mews house, which subsequently was sold many years before.
For us it made no sense to buy one without the other. Eventually, we secured the mews house despite the present owner being reluctant to sell but tempted by a generous offer from us. We were prepared to pay a reasonable premium in order to secure the mews because collectively the overall end result of having both the large main house and mews under the same ownership was always the objective.
There are increasing instances where owners are amalgamating property to create vast acres of lateral space. However, with restrictions from English Heritage and the floor-plate of typical London townhouses, this can be a difficult scenario with underwhelming results.
While such a large scale project may result in accommodation that works for the individual owner and family, it is often a less tempting prospect for buyers because in the reconfiguration space tends to wasted or not utilised in the way that another person requires. This means that a very expensive project can also cost you buyers, as in the case of Jamie Oliver, who knocked two houses into one in Primrose Hill.