A self-declared west London girl, Tara Guinness has bought her first home in Hammersmith this year. The daughter of fashion designer Lulu, she had grown up in bohemian Notting Hill, but had been working and renting in Brixton, south London.
Yet after moving in with her fiancée James during lockdown, the couple gravitated towards the independent eateries and community feel of Brackenbury Village to buy a flat. “Completely priced out of Notting Hill, a lot of our friends are moving here too,” says the chef who set up Tara Cookery to run courses. “It’s so central and well placed to get out of London quickly on the A4.”
Superb Underground connections and relative affordability are the two key drivers for child-free couples moving to Hammersmith, while great state and private schools have long attracted families, including three of the capital’s best independent day schools, Godolphin and Latymer, St Paul’s Girls’ School and Latymer Upper School.
“Currently the area is very much defined by people in their late twenties moving from areas such as Clapham, Brixton and Fulham in search of a cooler west London atmosphere with village-style living,” says Plum Fenton of Haringtons, a buyer’s agent.
Sales of Barons Court flats as buy-to-lets and pieds-à-terre are rising © Charlie Bibby/FT
Central Hammersmith, a business and transport hub, might not have the cachet of neighbouring Chiswick or Kensington but, as Harry Thompson, a copywriter who moved into a flat in Ravenscourt Park in February, says: “Once you get over first impressions of the flyover and addled urban planning around the station, five minutes away it’s a completely different proposition.”
Such new arrivals have helped sustain property prices, although in keeping with other areas of central London since the pandemic, houses have done better than flats. Flats made up 68 per cent of sales in the year to date, with an average price of £683,345, below that of 2019’s £694,632, according to LonRes, which tracks the prime London market.
In contrast, the average house sale is up from £1,542,685 two years ago to £1,915,575, with the average length of time taken for a house to sell 162 days in the year to date. That is the lowest in five years, and less than the prime fringe London average — including areas such as Clapham, Fulham and Battersea — of 196 days.
House prices per sq ft are up 8.5 per cent, year on year; flats down 1.8 per cent.
Lettings are back to where they were two years ago. “Tenants left London in March 2020, prices dropped by up to 15 per cent but people have been returning and we are even seeing sealed bids,” says Agatha Tukendorf, lettings manager at local agent Horton and Garton. In Q3 this year, they were at £34.41 per sq foot per annum, compared with £34.45 in Q3 2019. But as ever, residential enclaves in the W6/W14 postcodes all have their own micro markets.
Hammersmith is composed of different villages, such as Brackenbury © Charlie Bibby/FT
Tukendorf puts Brackenbury Village at the top of most requested locations. A pocket of quiet roads of Victorian terraced houses, it has Underground stations at three of its four corners and its highlights include the gastropubs The Anglesea Arms and Andover Arms, John Stenton family butchers and the Brackenbury Wine Rooms.
Good state schools, including the West London Free School (secondary) and the Ofsted-ranked-Outstanding Brackenbury Primary and John Betts Primary School, attract families to the west side, with Cardross and Nasmyth Streets popular for being in the catchment area of the latter, says Phil Coombes, sales manager at Horton and Garton.
“Two-bed terraced houses, many extending into the roof for a third bedroom, at £1.3m-£1.5m, are favoured by buyers in their early thirties.” An unmodernised railway worker’s cottage on Perrers Road listed at £1.05m in March sold for £1.26m after 28 bids.
Photogenic pastel-coloured houses in Wingate Road sell for over £2m, and larger houses can also be found in the north-east corner — on Iffley, Hebron and Marco Roads — where three/four-storey Victorian houses sell for £1.7m-plus. One-bedroom flats on the east side of the village, which has a more transient feel, cost £450,000-£550,000; two-bedroom flats cost from £600,000.
Brook Green/Kensington Olympia
Proximity to Holland Park, the schools and the weekend Brook Green Farmers’ Market draws families to the area’s freehold Victorian terrace houses, says Greg Boxer of agent Marsh & Parsons. “When we get approached by new buyers we don’t ask if they have children, just how many they have,” he says.
Among them are French and Italian families who attend the Ecole Française de Londres Jacques Prévert primary school, which has rising waiting lists, according to the head, Sylvie Wanin. “Despite Brexit and the pandemic, our school remains very popular with the French moving to London but also a growing number of international families with no specific French background,” she says. “This year 30 different nationalities have enrolled.”
The average house sold in 2021 was £1,974,995, considerably more than in Brackenbury Village at £1,501,667, according to LonRes. Boxer says that roads off Brook Green, with its tennis courts and playground, are in demand, especially Sterndale and Dewhurst Roads, Luxemburg and Bute Gardens. A five-bedroom house on Edith Road sold for over the asking price in September at £2.72m. Two-bedroom garden flats cost £750,000-£1m.
Westfield Shopping Centre is just a few minutes away, while the £1.3bn redevelopment of Kensington Olympia exhibition centre — due to be completed in 2023 — includes a new arthouse cinema, 1,500-seat theatre, 1,000-seat performing arts space and retail that will integrate with the local area more than the trade fairs of old.
Ravenscourt Park has tennis courts and this popular garden centre © Charlie Bibby/FT
A tiny area around the 33-acre park, with its tennis courts and popular W6 Garden Centre & Café, this patch is perfectly positioned yet usually only an add-on request after Chiswick, according to Julian Masson of agent John D Wood. “These will usually be families moving over from Holland Park and Notting Hill to get more space,” he says.
High among the area’s highlights is Patisserie Sainte Anne, the French bakery on King Street, and schools such as Ravenscourt Park Prep and Outstanding-rated St Peter’s CE Primary School. “You can get a four/five-bedroom house with a decent-sized garden for £1.5m-£2.5m,” says Masson.
A sought-after pocket of roads on the Shepherd’s Bush border includes Rylett Road, Binden Road, Ashchurch Park Villas and Ashchurch Grove — streets that offer predominantly houses rather than flats. Also popular are Ravenscourt Road and Paddenswick Road bordering the park — on the latter, a split-level two-bedroom maisonette with garden at £1.15m has just sold through Marsh & Parsons.
Harry Thompson, 34, pays less rent for his studio flat right by Stamford Brook Underground station than he did in Fulham when he moved over in June: “This area feels pleasantly more diverse than chichi Fulham and offers the best of both worlds — the utilitarian high street shopping on King Street on one side, weekend walks to Chiswick in the other direction.” He’s close to St Peter’s Square Conservation Area, prized for its proximity to the riverside and the highly rated independent Carpenter’s Arms gastropub.
Pubs and restaurants line the Riverside © Charlie Bibby/FT
There might not be much going on socially and, frustratingly, there is no supermarket but Alice, who works for a private equity company, chose Barons Court for its “incredible convenience”. She lives with her husband in a three-bedroom flat overlooking the Queen’s tennis club, of which she is a member.
“It’s great value compared to Kensington half a mile up the road and being on the Piccadilly line is so much quicker than trundling on the District [line] into town,” says the 29-year-old, who prefers not to give her full name.
The downside of easy access on to the A4 is the traffic gridlocks during rush hour on a Friday night as Londoners head out of town. “Roads that don’t get so much through traffic are Brecon Road and Tasso Road,” suggests Fenton, who says “bank of mum and dad” purchasers feature strongly.
The area’s small flats suffered during the pandemic but are being bought again for buy-to-lets and pieds-à-terre, says Robert Sturges of agent Chestertons: “With rents increasing again, some buyers are realising this is a really undervalued area, with the sort of early Victorian stucco-fronted houses you will pay far more for in Kensington.” You can buy a studio flat for around £300,000, two-bedroom properties for around £550,000.
For nights out, Alice heads to the riverside. “Sam’s Riverside [in the redeveloped Riverside Studios] is great, but there are endless pubs and, of course, the River Cafe,” she says. The late 1980s Italian restaurant remains popular and still has its Michelin star.
New flats at the Fulham Reach scheme rent well, and the Crabtree Conservation Area of quiet Victorian and Edwardian roads is popular with the medics, staff and the medical students at Charing Cross Hospital, both for buying and renting, says Sturges.
Hammersmith is on the District, Piccadilly, Circle and Hammersmith & City lines on the London Underground, taking 15 minutes to the West End or 25 minutes to the City.
Property prices have risen 58 per cent since 2010 — from £632,176 to £1,087,671 — according to LonRes, more than the average for the prime fringe: at £840,538 to £1,029,290. The average flat in Hammersmith sold in 2020 cost £714,529, the highest since its 2017 peak of £818,158.
Hammersmith is in the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham, where the middle, band D council tax rate is £1,195.62 for 2021/22.
What you can buy for . . .
£725,000 A two-bedroom flat in Brook Green, near Kensington Olympia Overground and rail station. The flat is on the second floor of a stucco-fronted Victorian building but the interior has been thoroughly modernised, with an open-plan kitchen/living area. Available through Marsh & Parsons.
£1.116m A two-bedroom terraced Victorian cottage in Redmore Road, Brackenbury Village. Its 91.5 sq m of living space includes an open-plan kitchen that leads to a south-facing garden, and the property is a few minutes’ walk from both Ravenscourt Park and the river. For sale with Horton and Garton.
£3m A five-bedroom, three-bathroom terraced house on Hammersmith Grove, within half a mile of Hammersmith Broadway. Spread over four storeys, the property has a 50ft garden reached via bifolding doors on the lower ground floor, and via a balcony on the raised ground floor. On the market with Hamptons.
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