Mad about mews

The most sought-af­ter streets in the cap­i­tal

The Daily Telegraph - Property - - Front Page -

In 2014, a mews house – the sort of prop­erty that usu­ally con­jures up a quaint, cot­tage-style city home on a cob­bled, tucked­away street – sold for an all-time high of £2,909 per sq ft. Within a year, the record set by Ec­cle­ston Mews had been smashed with the pur­chase of a for­mer sta­bles-turnedgara­ge on Reeves Mews in May­fair, which went for £24 mil­lion, or a cool £3,840 per sq ft.

Ac­cord­ing to Sav­ills, de­mand for mews houses among its buy­ers in­creased by 12 per cent last year.

“We’re see­ing more in­ter­na­tional in­ter­est – largely Amer­i­can and Euro­pean, but also re­cently Mid­dle Eastern, which wasn’t the case 10 years ago,” says Oliver Lurot, head of Sav­ills’ mews de­part­ment. “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.”

And gems they are, from the horse­shoe-shaped Pont Street Mews in Knights­bridge, with its arched en­trance, to the wis­te­ri­afestooned façades of Ky­nance Mews in Kens­ing­ton. Horses reg­u­larly trot through Hyde Park Gar­dens Mews in Padding­ton, a stone’s throw from its name­sake, to get to the sta­bles at nearby Bathurst Mews. The pic­turesque ap­peal of the mews street is clear. But mews also have ad­di­tional ben­e­fits. “They of­fer a level of af­ford­abil­ity sim­i­lar to apart­ments when com­pared to more tra­di­tional houses, but they are of­ten free­hold, with no ser­vice charges,” says Ben Wil­son, di­rec­tor of Res­i­dence One, the devel­op­ment com­pany re­spon­si­ble for the record­break­ing house on Ec­cle­ston Mews. “Mews houses are of­ten un­listed, un­like the houses they back on to, so car­ry­ing out ren­o­va­tion work is a much sim­pler process.”

Most of these build­ings started life as out­houses and sta­bles to some of Lon­don’s most lux­u­ri­ous prop­er­ties. The tra­di­tional mews house is there­fore hum­ble in its pro­por­tions, with small rooms and lit­tle in the way of nat­u­ral light – charm­ing in its own way, but not nec­es­sar­ily suited to the high-end buyer. Spot­ting po­ten­tial, de­vel­op­ers are now con­vert­ing the some­what poky floor plans into cav­ernous con­tem­po­rary lay­outs, Tardis-like be­hind the orig­i­nal façade. These new “su­per mews” are per­haps bet­ter de­signed to pique the lux­ury mar­ket’s in­ter­est.

“They al­low own­ers the ad­van­tage of liv­ing in a pe­riod prop­erty with all the mod cons we have be­come ac­cus­tomed to,” says Dun­can Petrie, mews spe­cial­ist at Sav­ills.

“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.”

Sav­ills is cur­rently mar­ket­ing a re­cently mod­ernised prop­erty on En­nis­more Mews in Knights­bridge for £7.75 mil­lion. The four-bed­room prop­erty now has an ad­di­tional base­ment level and a large glass roof has been in­stalled above the stair­case to al­low more light in. The for­mer garage has been con­verted into a 22ft-long sit­ting room.

Prop­er­ties that haven’t al­ready been con­verted are of­ten sold with plan­ning per­mis­sion for these works. A three­bed­room, un­mod­ernised mews house in Kens­ing­ton, £1.765 mil­lion through Sav­ills, has plan­ning per­mis­sion to ex­tend into the base­ment and to add a mansard roof ex­ten­sion for an ad­di­tional 800 sq ft of space.

“The char­ac­ter of the mews is in the façade of the prop­erty and the street, so there’s the op­por­tu­nity to turn the rest of the house into some­thing more suited to the 21st cen­tury,” says Ni­cola Fontanella of Ar­gent De­sign, who is re­spon­si­ble for the devel­op­ment of a prop­erty on Clabon Mews in Knights­bridge, for sale for £6.95 mil­lion with Hanover Res­i­den­tial. As well as boast­ing lux­ury mod cons such as a gym and me­dia cen­tre, the ceil­ing heights have been ex­tended and the orig­i­nal floor plan opened up to of­fer more lat­eral space.

“We’ve knocked down as many in­ter­nal walls as pos­si­ble, or in­stalled slid­ing doors so that rooms can be de­lin­eated,” says Fontanella. “There’s a greater sense of space.”

But while many of these houses may be ex­tended up or down, or have their in­ter­nal floor plan opened up, there’s lit­tle ca­pac­ity for widen­ing their over­all pro­por­tions, which is at odds with the mod­ern buyer’s cur­rent love af­fair with lat­eral space. The trick to gain­ing a larger lat­eral foot­print? “Buy­ing up the street,” says Lurot. “I have a buyer at the mo­ment who 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.”

Ech­lin, the ar­chi­tec­ture and de­sign firm, lucked out, man­ag­ing to ac­quire two mews houses plus the orig­i­nal town house to which they were once at­tached to cre­ate Kenure House in Hol­land Park. The plan­ning process was no easy feat, but the fin­ished prop­erty boasts 3,745 sq ft over three in­ter­nal floors, plus 650 sq ft of out­door space. It is

‘They are in pres­ti­gious post­codes and in short sup­ply’

£8.95 mil­lion with Knight Frank.

Such is the pop­u­lar­ity of the mews that de­vel­op­ers are also mim­ick­ing the style and start­ing from scratch. At Cleve­land Court Mews in St James’s, there are three newly built mews houses, the largest of which of­fers three bed­rooms, 2,508 sq ft of liv­ing space and a roof ter­race. It’s on the mar­ket with Sav­ills for £6.95 mil­lion. As part of its devel­op­ment in South­fields, built around a 200-year-old oak tree be­lieved to have been planted by Ca­pa­bil­ity Brown, Lendlease has cre­ated a whole new mews. Cam­bium Mews is a col­lec­tion of 11 three­bed­room mews houses with rear or rooftop gar­dens as well as pri­vate off-street park­ing, start­ing from £1.14 mil­lion.

The mews house may not come cheap – in prime cen­tral Lon­don they av­er­age £1,800 per sq ft – but in a slug­gish mar­ket, they can be a good buy. Mews houses grew in value by 0.6 per cent over the past year, com­pared with a 3.9 per cent drop in the wider prime cen­tral Lon­don mar­ket, ac­cord­ing to Sav­ills.

“Buy­ers con­tinue to be at­tracted to this type of prop­erty,” says Petrie. “They’re un­der­stated from the out­side but of­ten hide a grander in­te­rior, and they’re ver­sa­tile – equally good as a home or a lockup-and-leave pied à terre.”

And, as with most prop­erty, they tick the most im­por­tant box of lo­ca­tion, lo­ca­tion, lo­ca­tion. “They’re sit­u­ated in some of the most pres­ti­gious post­codes and are in scarce sup­ply,” says Petrie. “I can only see de­mand go­ing up.”

Mews views: Kenure House, above, has 650 sq ft of out­door space; Clabon Mews, main, is £6.95m with Hanover Res­i­den­tial (0207 486 9665; hanover­res­i­den­tial.com)

Old style: prices start at £1.14m for one of 11 new build houses on Cam­bium Mews, the Lendlease devel­op­ment in South­fields

End of the road: a newly built house on Cleve­land Court Mews in St James’s, with three bed­rooms and a roof ter­race, is £6.95m with Sav­ills

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