Bring­ing back the old-style ter­race

The Daily Telegraph - Property - - Front Page -

If you’re of a cer­tain age, you’ll re­mem­ber an era when a ter­raced prop­erty was se­ri­ously out of fash­ion. But it has emerged as a sur­vivor. Fig­ures from the Na­tional Home Build­ing Coun­cil show that since 2000, the num­ber of new ter­raced homes built an­nu­ally has ranged from 21,000 to 40,000 and in some of those years they made up 25 per cent of all new-builds.

Ter­races be­gan in the 1720s as rows of grand town­houses in the likes of Lon­don’s Grosvenor Square and Bath’s Queen Square. Ter­races then re­duced in size and pro­lif­er­ated dur­ing Vic­to­rian times. Tiny but in­fa­mous “two up, two down” ter­races, di­vided from each other at the back by nar­row lanes, soon sym­bol­ised ur­ban poverty rather than grandeur. In Six­ties Bri­tain, some 500,000 were de­mol­ished by plan­ners as politi­cians urged us to live in tow­ers in­stead.

Yet the ter­race is back with a vengeance. The sur­viv­ing Vic­to­rian ex­am­ples are now revered by young fam­i­lies as af­ford­able but char­ac­ter­ful homes; ac­cord­ing to Land Reg­istry, the ter­race is the cheap­est prop­erty type in the coun­try. Those well-pre­served ones with high ceil­ings, or­nate cor­nices, dado rails and sash win­dows com­mand higher prices, and they can of­ten be eas­ily ex­tended up­wards into the loft and out at the back to ac­com­mo­date grow­ing house­holds.

“Ter­raced prop­er­ties are seen as se­cure as they are sur­rounded by neigh­bours and also share the ben­e­fit of warmth from each side, rather than hav­ing more ex­ter­nal walls,” says Tom Carr of Verto Homes, a house­builder that has em­braced the style and given a dis­tinc­tively 21st-cen­tury makeover to the old-fash­ioned con­cept.

“End-of-ter­race prop­er­ties are more de­sir­able for cer­tain buy­ers as they of­fer semi-de­tached ac­com­mo­da­tion at a lower price than a stan­dard semi. Ter­races also en­able de­vel­op­ers to build faster, more ef­fi­ciently and at lower cost. These ben­e­fits are passed to the home­own­ers who are able to buy a big­ger home for the same money over a de­tached prop­erty.”

Verto is build­ing zero-car­bon ter­races with pho­to­voltaic so­lar pan­els, ground and air-source heat pumps and triple-glaz­ing. In the splen­didly named Chim­ney Pot Park – a scheme in Sal­ford by de­vel­oper Ur­ban Splash – old ter­raced houses have been con­verted anew, while in its other de­vel­op­ments around Manch­ester the com­pany has built new ver­sions with quirky lay­outs, putting liv­ing space and a kitchen up­stairs, and bed­rooms and bath­room at ground level.

Now the ter­race, by ac­ci­dent or de­sign, is also tap­ping into the grow­ing trend of Bri­tons want­ing to live closer to ma­jor cen­tres rather than out in the sub­urbs. Land is more ex­pen­sive in city cen­tres, so de­vel­op­ers are em­brac­ing a re­turn to ter­raced prop­erty where, even on a rel­a­tively small foot­print, you can build a spa­cious home over three or four floors, some­times even putting park­ing be­low.

“As well as en­joy­ing the closer com­mu­nity and se­cu­rity, ter­raced hous­ing gen­er­ally means you’re in a more ur­ban set­ting than de­tached house sub­ur­bia,” ex­plains An­gus McQuhae, di­rec­tor of house­builder Oc­tagon De­vel­op­ments. “You can walk to a cen­tre, en­joy shops, restau­rants, pub­lic trans­port and schools – all ben­e­fi­cial for mod­ern fam­ily liv­ing.”

His firm’s new Bishop’s Row ter­raced scheme in Ful­ham has homes of up to 6,150 sq ft in size – much big­ger than many de­tached houses out in the sticks – which also have cinema rooms, gyms and other fea­tures usu­ally as­so­ci­ated with more “lat­eral” prop­erty types. “Two decades ago an af­flu­ent buyer with a fam­ily would want a de­tached house in Sur­rey, but suc­cess­ful new-build schemes have changed the per­cep­tion of the ter­race, es­pe­cially in Lon­don. It’s now far more fam­i­lyfriendly, and for over­seas buy­ers it’s their first choice,” says Martin Fewell, a buy­ing agent.

There are cons, of course: older ter­races with poor-qual­ity party walls can get noise from neigh­bours, gar­dens are of­ten over­looked, while front doors can be close to busy roads, re­quir­ing dou­ble or triple glaz­ing. And as for car park­ing – you may have to take your chance on the street. But the en­dur­ing pop­u­lar­ity of ter­races is un­likely to end any­time soon. We may em­brace mod­u­lar hous­ing, tiny liv­ing pods and shared spa­ces, but who would bet against ter­races rein­vent­ing them­selves again and still be­ing around a cen­tury from now?

Ur­ban Splash’s ter­races in New Is­ling­ton, Manch­ester, main and right; Oc­tagon’s ter­raced home in Bishop’s Row in Ful­ham, be­low

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