Mad about mews
The most sought-after streets in the capital
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