The village high street
Londoners love high streets with a warm and friendly feel. Arabella Youens discovers it is wise to invest in a home near a popular parade
FRIENDLY and accessible high streets, with independent shops and helpful shopkeepers, are a major attraction for London buyers who value their contribution to community. As chain stores withdraw into online selling, the high street is making a comeback, especially in London “villages”. Today we start a new series in search of homes near the capital’s most characterful shopping streets.
LAMB’S CONDUIT STREET BLOOMSBURY
Semi-pedestrianised, with elegant shopfronts and traditional, wrought-iron overhanging signs, Lamb’s Conduit Street was recently described as “an edgier, more creative Jermyn Street”. Persephone Books founder Nicola Beauman took over her lease in 2001 and says the street was far shabbier then.
Its development since has been “a bit of a miracle”, she says. “Destination shoppers come for the mix of lovely, interesting shops. It’s not Marylebone High Street chic — it’s more individual than that.” Shop owners band together with those in neighbouring Rugby Street — including interiors emporium Pentreath & Hall — for a Christmas shopping event in early December.
Lamb’s Conduit Street’s communityspirited vibe is further evidenced by The People’s Supermarket, a co-op selling affordable and fair trade food where residents volunteer a few hours’ service per week, while specialist cheese shop La Fromagerie opened last week, and the nearby Brunswick Centre is home to a revamped art house cinema. Best nearby home buys: Georgian townhouses in neighbouring streets are being converted back from offices into houses, says Russell Ball of Dexters. But for value, he recommends looking at post-war ex-council blocks, including in Orde Hall Street and Millman Street. “One approach is to buy a onebedroom ex-local authority flat in one of these streets and reconfigure the space to create a spare room. At a stroke you add value and get all the benefits of living near a really trendy street.” Dexters has a one-bedroom flat with separate kitchen in Lamb’s Conduit Passage at £550,000 (020 8012 3870).
NEW QUEBEC STREET MARYLEBONE
The Portman Estate, landlord of 110 acres of west Marylebone, has cottoned on to the place making concept. The centre of the “Portman Village” is New Quebec Street, with its fishmonger, pub, boutiques, specialist wine shop and Boxcar Butcher & Grill. The estate also organises a popular summer party. David Ruddock of Marsh & Parsons says Portman has turned “a backwater
a one-bedroom flat in Lamb’s Conduit Passage, Bloomsbury, off Lamb’s Conduit Street. Dexters (020 8012 3870)