In the thick of it: Westminster is becoming a vibrant place to live

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Recently, central London's "parliamentary quarter" in Westminister – which has for so long remained a residential secret – has started moving on to the radar with homebuyers searching for a good-value address in the posh and pricey SW1 postcode.

Traditionally, Westminster has been a quiet, even dull, neighbourhood, with crowds of civil servants departing at the end of the working day and no evening scene of note. But in recent years it has become much more than a discreet "division bell" address for blue-blood politicians.

Creative companies are moving in, fashionable bars and restaurants are opening, and adding their own vitality, while swish apartment schemes are replacing former ministry buildings. The core patch lies between St James's Park and Millbank, where charming historic architecture mixes with Victorian social housing and well-kept council homes.

Number 35 Great Peter Street is a period gem. Built in 1928 as the headquarters of the United Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, it has a handsome stone and brick façade with leaded windows, behind which have been created nine contemporary-design apartments, including a duplex penthouse with a terrace offering Mary Poppins-like rooftop views towards the Palace of Westminster.

The interiors have thoroughly modern good taste. Glass "feature" walls, white Corian kitchens, oak floors and brushed-steel sections plus underfloor heating and air-conditioning. Apartments are generously sized, too – from 1,202 sq ft to 2,765 sq ft. One apartment is more like a house, with its own auspicious entrance at street level and a glazed inner courtyard. Prices from £1.75m to £5.25m. Call Montagu Evans on 020 7312 7412.

Law-abiding apartments

Launching soon is a redevelopment of Westminster magistrates' court, on Horseferry Road. Deemed a "Seventies eyesore" by the local council, it will be transformed into 144 apartments.

Barratt, the developer, is urging potential buyers to register now for The Courthouse if they want to hear about the launch first and get the pick of the plots. "People are so keen to buy in these prized pockets of central London that they are reading the planning register to see which buildings are coming up," says Gary Patrick, sales director. Call 020 8326 7100.

Berkeley Homes also has two projects in the pipeline – Abell House on John Islip Street and Cleland House on Page Street. Call 020 7720 2600.

Developers are pushing up values in line with the area's rising status, demanding up to £1,500 a sq ft for top new apartments. But the going rate remains about £1,000 to 1,200 a sq ft, which is cheaper than many central London buyers expect for the SW1 postcode.

Apartments with a view of the Palace

Wellington House, on Buckingham Gate, is a new-build scheme of 59 apartments, some with views of Buckingham Palace, due for completion in July 2012. Prices from £650,000 to £5m. Call Savills on 020 7409 8718.

The developer is property giant Land Securities, which is building more than 400 new homes as part of mixed-use schemes revitalising the area. These include Cardinal Place, the glass-and-steel shopping precinct on Victoria Street, and Kingsgate House, which will have 102 homes alongside 232,000 sq ft of retail and office space. Coming soon, too, is a £1bn development on a six-acre site that will integrate with a new transport hub at Victoria station.

A buying opportunity

Westminster and Victoria are tipped as "buying opportunities" in a hot spot report by estate agent Knight Frank. "Prices will not catch up with those in neighbouring Belgravia but they could see a significant bounce in the next five years," it predicts.

Resales start at about £400,000 for one-bedroom flats in newish developments such as Westminster Green, formerly Westminster Hospital, and New Palace Place, next to the new Home Office.

Westrovia, which sounds like a fictitious country from a Marx Brothers film, is a new apartment block alongside Cubitt-built terraces and listed St James the Less church on Moreton Street in Pimlico. No doubt the name is a marketeer's attempt to erase any lingering doubts about once-staid Westminster. Two-bedroom flats here are priced from £650,000. Call Hamptons International on 020 7834 4771.

Vincent Square is a sought-after address. Homes overlook 13 acres of private playing fields owned by Westminster School. Homes at a former police station cost from £500,000. Call estate agent Daniel Cobb on 020 7222 1000.

Just to the north is the area's most lively and down-to-earth patch – the hub around Wilton Road and Warwick Way. For years, this was held back by the close proximity of Victoria station but it is now smartening up. There is a street market and small independent shops are replacing chain stores.

Apartments have been built above a new Sainsbury's, collectively known as Pimlico Place (resales from about £400,000), while Tachbrook Triangle is a recently completed scheme of 39 flats and 12 houses.

Here, Westminster merges with Pimlico, which has lots of cream-coloured stucco Regency terraces. "Pimlico Grid" – a network of one-way streets and cul-de-sacs around St George's Drive – continues to pull in middle-class families priced out of Chelsea but still determined to be close to the central London action.

All eyes are on the nearby Art Deco bulk of Victoria Coach Station, which covers, in all, about three acres, and which could provide a rare large development site. Most locals consider the terminus to be little more than an eyesore. Stylish new homes may clean up what is a scruffy pocket, but its replacement would require the consent of Transport for London.

Discover more property articles at Homes and Property
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Travel Customer Service and Experience Manager

£14000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing travel comp...

Recruitment Genius: Cleaner / Caretaker / Storeman

£15500 - £17680 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A position has become available...

Recruitment Genius: Head of Sales - SaaS B2B

£60000 - £120000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This conference call startup i...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This digital and print design a...

Day In a Page

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen
RuPaul interview: The drag star on being inspired by Bowie, never fitting in, and saying the first thing that comes into your head

RuPaul interview

The drag star on being inspired by Bowie, never fitting in, and saying the first thing that comes into your head
Secrets of comedy couples: What's it like when both you and your partner are stand-ups?

Secrets of comedy couples

What's it like when both you and your partner are stand-ups?
Satya Nadella: As Windows 10 is launched can he return Microsoft to its former glory?

Satya Nadella: The man to clean up for Windows?

While Microsoft's founders spend their billions, the once-invincible tech company's new boss is trying to save it
The best swimwear for men: From trunks to shorts, make a splash this summer

The best swimwear for men

From trunks to shorts, make a splash this summer
Mark Hix recipes: Our chef tries his hand at a spot of summer foraging

Mark Hix goes summer foraging

 A dinner party doesn't have to mean a trip to the supermarket
Ashes 2015: With an audacious flourish, home hero Ian Bell ends all debate

With an audacious flourish, the home hero ends all debate

Ian Bell advances to Trent Bridge next week almost as undroppable as Alastair Cook and Joe Root, a cornerstone of England's new thinking, says Kevin Garside
Aaron Ramsey interview: Wales midfielder determined to be centre of attention for Arsenal this season

Aaron Ramsey interview

Wales midfielder determined to be centre of attention for Arsenal this season
Community Shield: Arsene Wenger needs to strike first blow in rivalry with Jose Mourinho

Community Shield gives Wenger chance to strike first blow in rivalry with Mourinho

As long as the Arsenal manager's run of games without a win over his Chelsea counterpart continues it will continue to dominate the narrative around the two men
The unlikely rise of AFC Bournemouth - and what it says about English life

Unlikely rise of AFC Bournemouth

Bournemouth’s elevation to football’s top tier is one of the most improbable of recent times. But it’s illustrative of deeper and wider changes in English life
A Very British Coup, part two: New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel

A Very British Coup, part two

New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel
Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Icy dust layer holds organic compounds similar to those found in living organisms