View from the top

Penthouses are the ultimate in city living - with price tags to match. Mary Wilson finds the homes breaking records outside London
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The Independent Online

You don't have to live in London to hanker after a million-pound penthouse. In other cities or even in the country, there are high fliers who want a home with that "wow" factor and unparalleled views. They are prepared to pay for the privilege, so they can show that they have made it to the top, both metaphorically and physically.

You don't have to live in London to hanker after a million-pound penthouse. In other cities or even in the country, there are high fliers who want a home with that "wow" factor and unparalleled views. They are prepared to pay for the privilege, so they can show that they have made it to the top, both metaphorically and physically.

Newcastle upon Tyne has its fair share of striking Georgian and Victorian buildings, but the Turnbull Building in the heart of the city is one of the most impressive. Originally a print works owned by WF Turnbull, it has always been a landmark. Now Northern Land has converted it into 48 apartments, and the pièce de résistance is the penthouse on the sixth and seventh floors with views over the city, river and bridges.

This has been the Newcastle home of the developer, Alex Hutchinson, who spends most of his time in Switzerland, and is selling up. It has huge arched windows, a vast ultra-modern kitchen/living/dining space with timbered ceiling, original cast-iron pillars and pale maple floors. Pale lemon walls contrast with creamy brick and metal stairs, and the en suite master bathroom has a circular Jacuzzi and walk-in shower.

As any self-respecting penthouse should, it comes with Lutron remote-controlled lighting and integrated cabling for a Bang & Olufsen music system, plus Phillipe Starck fittings and Poggenpohl kitchen. Knight Frank (0191 221 2211) is marketing it for £1 million. "This is the most expensive property on the market in Newcastle," says Nicola Osborne of Knight Frank. "Nothing else comes close to it, but we are anticipating buyers who are looking for a really different living space."

No 1 Deansgate in central Manchester rubs shoulders with Harvey Nichols, ritzy restaurants and a cinema and was the first building of its type in the city - namely, made of glass, with 24-hour concierge and underground parking. Such was its appeal that several footballers, including Ryan Giggs and Phil Neville, bought there, paying well over £1 million for their pads.

Now one of the penthouses is back on the market for £1.5m. "It's certainly one of the biggest apartments in Manchester and one of the most expensive," says Karla Royle of FPDSavills (0161 244 7700). "The market for this sort of property is very strong. People are paying the prices because it's such a terrific opportunity to buy in the city centre. Who knows what the value of this type of apartment will be in five to 10 years time?"

The triplex penthouse is on the 15th, 16th and 17th floors, so has fantastic views across Greater Manchester. "On New Year's Eve, we watched the fireworks go off for miles around," says Douglas Barrowman, a corporate financier who is reluctantly selling the penthouse. "I bought it almost a year ago and am selling as I feel it needs someone who will live in it full-time. I spend most of my time with my family in the country and only use it about one week a month.

"The whole development has a certain aura about it and the apartment is very special by UK and especially Manchester standards. I liked the high quality of every aspect, right down to the concierge and parking. It's all about buying into a city lifestyle."

In central Birmingham, Knight Frank (0121 236 0777) is selling another triplex penthouse in King Edwards Wharf, a new canal side building on Sheepcote Street. "This sets the record for the most expensive penthouse in the city," says Isabelle Wright of Knight Frank. "The internal fit-out specified by the present owners, rather than the developer, is virtually future-proof in its levels of in-built, state-of-the-art technology."

For fabulous views, penthouses don't necessarily need to be on the top of a tall building. From the fourth floor of a modern building in Wilmslow, near Alderley Edge, the views from the two roof terraces stretch to the Derbyshire Hills. These views can also be enjoyed from the drawing room and master bedroom. There is a 27ft drawing room with vaulted ceiling, second bedroom with en-suite shower and French doors to another terrace. "There are few properties like this around, but we always have a lot of interest in them," says Crispin Harris of Jackson-Stops & Staff (01625 540340). "They sell to rich young bachelors, footballers or people who have sold their big house, gone offshore and need a pad for the 90 days they are in this country." It is on the market with a guide price of £950,000.

In Summerhill Court, Sevenoaks, Kent, there is another spectacular penthouse on the third floor of a large Victorian house, which has been converted into six flats. "The penthouse has a very much higher specification and is far more contemporary than the others," says Helen McCarthy of Jackson-Stops & Staff's Sevenoaks office. "We rarely get properties like this in the area and it looks to us as if it should be in London. So far, interest has been mainly from city people looking to move to the area. The locals are not sure what to make of it." The two-bedroom penthouse, which has a large open-plan living room with vaulted ceiling, timber beams and steel ties, roof terrace and private lift entrance, is on the market for £895,000.

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