wool­wich a great place to buy

Berke­ley Homes’ Royal Arse­nal River­side devel­op­ment is the per­fect lo­ca­tion for a new home, says sales di­rec­tor Lyn­don Nunn

The Wharf - - Property - Jon Massey Go to roy­alarse­nal­river­side.co.uk or call 020 8003 0742 for more in­for­ma­tion about the scheme

Where to put all that cash? Bricks and mor­tar have lost none of their ap­peal as a long-term ve­hi­cle for in­vest­ment and Lon­don, de­spite re­cent mar­ket wob­bles and the un­cer­tainty of Brexit, re­mains an at­trac­tive op­tion.

A world city with un­par­al­leled life­style fa­cil­i­ties, it stands above other Euro­pean cap­i­tals due to the depth of its busi­ness and cul­tural her­itage. But where in Lon­don to in­vest? Berke­ley Homes East and West Thames sales di­rec­tor Lyn­don Nunn makes a com­pelling case for Wool­wich.

Some­times over­looked, this cor­ner of south-east Lon­don on the banks of the Thames has un­der­gone sig­nif­i­cant change in re­cent years. And there’s more in the pipe­line. “This is one of the big­gest re­gen­er­a­tion schemes in Europe,” said Lyn­don. “We’ll have just un­der 5,000 homes by the time we’re com­plete. To­day we’re only just over half of the way through. We’ve built just over 3,000 homes now so we’ve still got a long way left to go. “What’s im­por­tant to set out is how things have moved on site as we’ve gone through those years. “We’ve been selling for about 13 years now. We started off price-wise at un­der £200,000 for a one-bed. “Here’s an ex­am­ple – I’ve been at the com­pany for seven years and when I joined, we were selling a block called Ware­house Court, which is in the mid­dle part of the site. In 2011, we were selling a one-bed­room prop­erty there for £200,000 and a two-bed for about £280,000. “We’ve just com­pleted a block di­rectly op­po­site. It’s in the same lo­ca­tion, al­though the spec­i­fi­ca­tion is slightly higher and it has the use of the spa whereas the other block doesn’t. “The prices we’ve achieved in that are more than dou­ble what peo­ple paid in Ware­house Court. I think that’s a good way to en­cap­su­late what’s hap­pened.” With a great deal of devel­op­ment to come, Lyn­don said Berke­ley’s ap­proach to such large re­gen­er­a­tion pro­jects helped mit­i­gate the ups and downs of the prop­erty mar­ket.

“We have an­other 13 years left to go,” he said. “It’s im­pos­si­ble to say what will hap­pen to the mar­ket in that time but what we’ve proved on some of our larger schemes is we can ac­ti­vate the mar­ket and make the place bet­ter, mak­ing it more re­silient to mar­ket changes. “So what’s not here to­day? “Cross­rail isn’t and that will have a pos­i­tive im­pact when it opens.

“When peo­ple start us­ing the El­iz­a­beth line there will be more peo­ple who want to move here whether they rent or buy. There’s go­ing to be more de­mand.

“An­other ad­di­tion that will come is our cul­tural district, which is a se­ries of four build­ings that are owned and will be run by the Royal Bor­ough of Green­wich.

“They will be ac­ti­vated for cul­tural use with the likes of a 450-seat the­atre, stu­dios, dance and act­ing space, which, when com­bined, will be the size of the South Bank.

“Res­i­dents will have an arts cen­tre on their doorstep.

“There’s al­ready a bur­geon­ing arts scene here with the likes of the Wool­wich Con­tem­po­rary Print Fair that’s held here ev­ery year and that seems to be grow­ing and grow­ing.

“A lot of our cus­tomers, es­pe­cially with the higher-end units, are in­ter­ested in that side of what this has to of­fer. By the time it fully opens, that com­pletely changes this place to be­ing a des­ti­na­tion.

“While it’s great now, that de­mand, that ex­pec­ta­tion, will be greater both na­tion­ally and in­ter­na­tion­ally. It will have a pos­i­tive im­pact on growth and in­vest­ment, and will bring a com­pletely dif­fer­ent and wider clien­tele to this site.

Lo­cally you also have things like ABP Lon­don in Royal Docks, which will bring in­vest­ment to this area.

“We have a lot of cus­tomers who work in that area but live in Wool­wich. It is also com­par­a­tively af­ford­able. We’re find­ing we’re pulling peo­ple in who would have con­sid­ered Ca­nary Wharf and are now look­ing here.

“It’s a great place. It’s al­most a mi­cro­cli­mate – if you don’t want to go out­side the devel­op­ment, you don’t have to as it has ev­ery­thing on the doorstep.”

Even with­out those fu­ture at­trac­tions, Royal Arse­nal River­side is very well con­nected via the Over­ground, the DLR (in­clud­ing an easy jour­ney to Lon­don City Air­port) and the MBNA Thames Clip­pers via a ded­i­cated pier.

That con­trib­utes to a sta­ble con­stituency of rental ten­ants, with de­cent re­turns for own­ers.

“Rents have started climb­ing again with the re­lease of the new blocks re­cently and the open­ing of the spa,” said Lyn­don.

“There are a lot of things there that we are in con­trol of and coun­ter­act what the mar­ket is do­ing by mak­ing things bet­ter. “We have a life cy­cle of ten­ants. “What hap­pens over time is we’ll have dif­fer­ent seg­ments of ten­ants liv­ing in each block. A lot of them are high-earn­ing peo­ple who choose to rent rather than buy, per­haps be­cause they’re tran­sient.

I think peo­ple are sur­prised when they come to the devel­op­ment. There’s no sub­sti­tute for see­ing it in the flesh. Wool­wich is chang­ing a lot. Lyn­don Nunn, Berke­ley Homes East & West Thames sales di­rec­tor

“They’ll work in Ca­nary Wharf, for ex­am­ple, but they’ll choose to rent here.

“When we open a new block, that cus­tomer says: ‘Right, I love liv­ing here, but I want the new block and I’m will­ing to pay more money for it’.

“That per­son moves and when that hap­pens there’s kind of a cas­cade of other ten­ants that move up as well.

“Then at the en­try level, some­one from out­side the scheme comes in and rents. When you look at the avail­abil­ity on-site there’s not a lot to rent even though we’ve built 3,000 homes.

“Oc­cu­pancy is nearly 100% – we are selling to in­vestors but those prop­er­ties are be­ing rented out and used as a place to live. We re­ally don’t see many homes left empty at all.”

Beyond the devel­op­ment, Lyn­don said the town it­self was be­com­ing more at­trac­tive too.

“I think peo­ple are sur­prised when they come to the devel­op­ment,” he said. “There’s no sub­sti­tute for see­ing it in the flesh. Wool­wich is chang­ing a lot. If you think of the amount of in­vest­ment go­ing on in the town cen­tre, it’s mas­sive. That’s been ac­cel­er­ated by what we’ve al­ready done.

“There’s more com­pa­nies, more build­ing go­ing on com­mer­cially and res­i­den­tially which can only be good for the area.

“For ex­am­ple, Street Feast set up in the old Wool­wich Mar­ket, which is fan­tas­tic and you’ve got the blue chip com­pa­nies such as Marks and Spencer, Bar­clays and Sains­bury’s here.

“At Royal Arse­nal River­side, we have ev­ery­thing from a stu­dio at £328,000 through to a £2 mil­lion pen­t­house. We build mul­ti­ple phases at the same time to en­able our­selves to ap­peal to a com­pletely di­verse cus­tomer base.

“The site has a nice buzz to it. Peo­ple are friendly, it’s so nice when you walk through. You can feel that place el­e­ment. And the mes­sage is there’s still growth here.

“There are a large num­ber of rea­sons to buy now, ir­re­spec­tive of what the mar­ket is do­ing.”

Cur­rently on sale are Water­front, with homes start­ing at £410,000 for a stu­dio and £485,000 for a one-bed, avail­able with Help To Buy, and Pav­il­ion Square with prop­er­ties start­ing at £320,000 in­clud­ing Berke­ley’s dis­count mar­ket sale ini­tia­tive of 20% off.

Homes at the Water­front devel­op­ment start at £410,000

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