Buy a home, get a whole new so­cial life thrown in

The Daily Telegraph - Property - - Front Page -

be­ing among the first res­i­dents at Cir­cus West – the first phase to reach com­ple­tion at Bat­terseaPower Sta­tion – feels al­most as if you are part of a hol­i­day re­sort. The Power Club, the de­vel­op­ment’s res­i­dents-only so­cial ser­vice, is, de­pend­ing on how you see it, ei­ther an amaz­ing “free” perk for those who live there or London’s most ex­pen­sive mem­bers’ club, given you need to buy (or rent) a prop­erty in the de­vel­op­ment to be­long (re­sales start at £550,000, new pent­houses at sev­eral mil­lion).

Its 5,000 sq ft Linley-de­signed club­house has a prime wa­ter­front site, where you can watch the power sta­tion’s rein­car­na­tion from the com­fort of the mem­bers’ bar, li­brary, games room or pri­vate din­ing room. There’s a gym and a pool whose re­lax­ation area – com­plete with hon­esty bar – could be in a trendy Mediter­ranean re­sort.

Al­ter­na­tively, you could tap into the Power Club app – a way to con­nect with oth­ers in your block or across the whole de­vel­op­ment – and join one of the many groups that have sprung up. There are wine tast­ings, film nights (there’s a screen­ing room on site, nat­u­rally), five-a-side foot­ball in Bat­tersea Park, jog­ging clubs and tennis teams. Of the 400 peo­ple who have moved in so far, 219 have signed up for the book group and 293 for chess. Ser­vice charges at Cir­cus West are £5.50 per sq ft, and the first year’s gym mem­ber­ship is thrown in for free.

The concierge ser­vice, run by Quintessen­tially founder Harry Becher, can get you a last-minute ta­ble at Chiltern Fire­house, and tick­ets for pretty much any­thing, from the Dior trunk show to an open­ing night on Broad­way. A part­ner­ship with the Good­wood Es­tate means res­i­dents can con­tinue their knees-ups in the West Sus­sex coun­try­side. And there are even chances to travel with your new Bat­tersea friends; cur­rent op­por­tu­ni­ties in­clude a trip to see the North­ern Lights. Once, de­vel­op­ers just built you a home; now, in an ef­fort to jus­tify sky-high prices and get one over on ri­val house­builders, they build you a life.

“We wanted this to be a prop­erty club – some­thing that peo­ple would se­ri­ously see as an ex­ten­sion of the home, and a way to make and meet friends and en­hance their life­style,” says Rob Tinck­nell, chief ex­ec­u­tive of Bat­tersea Power Sta­tion, who sees his role as “oil­ing the wheels of the com­mu­nity”.

“We have 150 here for Sun­day lunch in the club restau­rant. Week­end break­fast is huge. Peo­ple get home from work, stop off in the bar to meet friends who live in their block or head off to­gether to one of the restau­rants that have opened on site,” he says.

“One 65-year-old lady told me she’d met more peo­ple in four months here than in 10 years in her pre­vi­ous home in Pim­lico.”

A new “vil­lage” is tak­ing shape, too, to pro­vide the fo­cal point for th­ese friend­ships. There’s the Gen­eral Store run by Raj Bathia, “a lo­cal Bat­tersea guy – he knows ev­ery­one by name,” says Tinck­nell. The Vil­lage Hall of­fers a space for ev­ery­thing from yoga groups to kids’ par­ties. And the re­tail units un­der the rail­way arches are fill­ing up with in­de­pen­dent en­ter­prises, in­clud­ing bou­tique cof­fee shops, gin com­pa­nies and spin­ning stu­dios. “We keep hear­ing about ‘lights-off London’, but this is ‘lights-on London’,” says Tinck­nell.

At Lil­lie Square, the first piece of Earl’s Court re­gen­er­a­tion, where flats cost from £775,000, the first 100 or so res­i­dents who moved in ear­lier this year are test­ing out the life­style op­tions of­fered by the newly opened 20,000 sq ft club­house.

All res­i­dents get a Lil­lie Pass, a mem­ber­ship card that gives them ac­cess to a range of tie-ins with lux­ury brands. Sel­fridges will de­liver your shop­ping, Berry Bros & Rudd can sort your wine col­lec­tion and Wild at Heart of­fers same-day de­liv­er­ies and flower-ar­rang­ing work­shops. There are ESPA treat­ment rooms, an As­ton Martin at res­i­dents’ dis­posal, free fizz when you get your hair done at Duck & Dry and dis­counts in the lo­cal Har­wood Arms (London’s only Miche­lin­starred pub). You could live an en­tire Lil­lie life with­out stray­ing more than a few hun­dred yards.

You don’t need to bother with the mun­dane things, ei­ther. Lil­lie Square’s on-site life­style man­ager, Ni­cola Abad, takes care of that. “So far, I’m get­ting most re­quests for tick­ets, clean­ers and handy­men,” she says. “Some res­i­dents can’t live with­out it. One man, who trav­els a lot, calls me his London wife.”

Hardly a lux­ury de­vel­op­ment comes on the mar­ket to­day with­out a concierge to man­age your life­style. At 525, on Man­hat­tan’s west side, where apart­ments are only for rent, na­tive New Yorker Peter Shee­han, the live-in di­rec­tor of res­i­dent ex­pe­ri­ence, will or­ches­trate your life. “Hav­ing some­one to man­age res­i­dents’ ex­pe­ri­ences is the new nor­mal,” says Shee­han. “Res­i­dents at 525 are mainly sin­gles and cou­ples who are mak­ing their mark in the world be­fore start­ing fam­i­lies. They could af­ford to buy, but prices are higher than ever and they’re watch­ing the mar­ket.”

He or­ches­trates what he calls “a playlist of ex­pe­ri­ences” for res­i­dents, whether it’s out­door yoga, film nights, cook­ing classes or get­ting the hottest tick­ets in town at a mo­ment’s no­tice. One woman asked Shee­han to get her court­side seats to the Nadal fi­nal in the US Open, just a few hours be­fore the match started. “I man­aged,” he re­calls, “but what I wasn’t ready for was the fact she was still at her Hamp­tons home and needed a he­li­copter to get her to the match.” Wel­come to the new re­sort style of city liv­ing, where any­thing is pos­si­ble – at a price.

The games room at the River­house, Bat­tersea Power Sta­tion’s res­i­dents’ club, left, and its restau­rant, be­low

Res­i­dents of Lil­lie Square in Earl’s Court have an As­ton Martin at their dis­posal

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