The play’s the thing in today’s housing market
Buy close to a thriving theatre and you’ll enjoy a cultural and financial dividend, says
How about living within five minutes of curtain up? Great musicals, highbrow plays and pantomimes will all come to visit you. No wonder people love to live close to a good theatre. Experts are reporting a new cultural dividend in the property market. Look no further than the regeneration of London’s South Bank to see how theatres and galleries can create a sense of fun and elevate property prices at the same time.
“Families with teenagers now want to move into towns to take advantage of theatres and restaurants,” says Rupert Sweeting, head of Knight Frank’s country house department. “They want their children to join a youth theatre, or go to pop and rock concerts. Older buyers also like to be within walking distance of the action.” There is a kind of cultural kudos attached to houses near a theatre, he says.
The property market, too, is acknowledging the magic of the stage.
Berkeley Homes is building a new London theatre in the middle of its development One Tower Bridge, just along from the Globe, the National Theatre and the Queen Elizabeth Hall.
The new 900-seat auditorium will be home to the London Theatre Company, led by Nicholas Hytner and Nick Starr, former artistic director and executive director of the National Theatre. The play’s the thing, as Hamlet said.
However, outside London, there are many more theatre hotspots to tour. If amateur dramatics is your thing, then head to Henley-on-Thames. The Kenton Theatre was founded in 1805 The Royal Shakespeare Company has its home in Stratford upon Avon at the world-famous theatre of the same name and the smaller Swan next door.
Productions are staged year round, with this year’s highlights including Paapa Essiedu’s black Hamlet and Antony Sher’s King Lear.
“I have one buyer who moved to a cottage just outside town solely because of his love of Shakespeare,” says Sam Holton of Knight Frank. “He was coming so regularly he thought he might as well have a home here.”
Holton is now selling a smart two-bedroom flat in the recently built Sequoia Mews, with communal gardens and private access to the tramway path into town, for £475,000. The city centre in York is so compact that you can reach almost everywhere by walking. The racecourse, restaurants, museums, art gallery, cathedral and Theatre Royal are all within a stroll. A few seconds from the Theatre Royal, a whole Grade II listed “I am used to Tunbridge Wells, where we are all hopelessly behind the times,” says Charlotte Bartlett in EM Forster’s A Room with a View.
Residents are often lampooned as reactionary letter-writers signing themselves “disgusted of Tunbridge Wells”, but these days they are more likely to be commuter families.
Trinity Theatre, which has a busy youth theatre and musical theatre for young players, shows art films, as well as live broadcasts from the Royal Opera House and Royal Shakespeare Company.
A top choice for theatregoers is a six-bedroom Edwardian tile-hung house at £1.45m through Knight Frank.
The property is a short walk to the theatre, shops and railway station – trains take 43 minutes into London Bridge. Chichester Festival Theatre is housed in a Sixties building (with the smaller Minerva nearby) and its first director was Sir Laurence Olivier.
The Chichester festival runs from April to September with an impressive programme ranging from contemporary new works to classics and musicals.
This year Ibsen’s Enemy of the People, adapted by Christopher Hampton, directed by Howard Davies and starring Hugh Bonneville, will be a crowd-puller.
An impressive town house (pictured left), with four bedrooms and a studio set in the walled garden, is being sold by JacksonStops & Staff.