Why Chelsea is always in fashion
Why Chelsea is always in fashion

Published March 22 2013 - Main Photo Brian Harris/ Alamy

Prices are still upwardly mobile in this elite area, which exudes leafy charm and an artistic history, says Paul Shearer

Chelsea, the southwest London suburb that was once nicknamed “the village of palaces”, is where Roman Abramovich is remodelling his palatial home. Planning permission has been granted for the three 17th-century Cheyne Walk houses overlooking the Thames to be linked into a £100 million residence. Sir Mick Jagger is just one of the many famous past and present neighbours on the same street. Made in Chelsea , the E4 reality TV show, whose fifth series is soon to start, is shot around these handsome streets and in the many smart bars and cafés, but the cast, though Sloaney, do not necessarily live here. Millie Mackintosh, a lead character, resides in East London.

Chelsea exudes a worldly but leafy charm. This area proudly displays its artistic and literary heritage in a rash of blue plaques — Thomas Carlyle, Oscar Wilde, Paul Robeson, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, James Whistler, Henry James, to name a few. The Swinging Sixties saw a Kings Road revival, which continued through the 1970s. The average house price in 2012 was £2,858,425, and values continue to climb.

Prices have increased by 17.3 per cent over the past five years, according to research by Knight Frank.

Where is it?

North of the Thames and straddling the Kings Road (Chelsea’s high street runs from Sloane Square, which abuts Belgravia and Knightsbridge, to World’s End, where the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea becomes the London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham). Stray too far north and Chelsea becomes South Kensington. Cross the Thames and you are in Battersea, although you may still hear the area called South Chelsea.

How do you get there?

Sloane Square Underground station is on the District and Circle Lines. From Cadogan Pier a river bus will whizz you up to Blackfriars. Imperial Wharf station opened in 2009 and is on the West London Line of the London Overground. Alternatively, you can hop over the river to the London Heliport in Battersea.

What is the property like?

There are some historic hidden gems among the pleasant mix of brick and stucco-fronted townhouses, from Georgian through to 1930s, with some modern infill. Mansion blocks feature around Sloane Square and occasional newer apartment-block developments. “Beautiful, picturesque streets — lovely, stunning houses,” says Roarie Scarisbrick of the Property Vision buyers’ agency.

What about the property prices?

“Apartments range from £1,500 to £2,500 per square foot and with townhouses you’re generally looking at over £1,750 per square foot,” says James Pace of Knight Frank. Two to three-bedroom flats cost up to £2 million, a modest terraced house £5 million, a larger family house £5 million to £10 million. Larger houses in avenues such as Tregunter Road cost between £10 million and £20 million, while properties in hugely desirable areas such as The Boltons can fetch more than £40 million.

What’s new?

Henry Moore Court is a boutique development of 13 apartments and two houses on the site of the former Chelsea College of Art; prices start at £5.65 million for an apartment. The £3 billion redevelopment of the 12.8-acre site of the former Chelsea Barracks, which is owned by the Qatari Diar Real Estate Company, is under review. Another stalled scheme — Hutchison Whampoa’s Lots Road Power Station, which included 800 homes in Sir Terry Farrell’s masterplan — is poised to progress this year.

Who lives there?

Old money and the Sloanes of yesteryear have given way to the new-money breed of family-minded, global überbankers, who cherish the good prep schools, the low-rise housing and the greenery. The area is favoured by UK and Western European buyers, who like the fact that most people live in their houses rather than merely visit them from time to time.

Eating and drinking Restaurant Gordon Ramsay and Tom Aikens for the Michelin-star scoffers, while stylish eating and shopping can be had at Bluebird on the Kings Road.

What are the schools like?

Competition for state and private schools in Kensington and Chelsea is fierce. Popular independents include Hill House International Junior School and Garden House School, and Francis Holland School for girls. State options include Oratory RC Primary School, rated outstanding by Ofsted, and the recently opened Chelsea Academy, also rated outstanding.

Upsides Leafier, calmer and more lived-in than some of its super-prime neighbours.

Downsides Parking and traffic can be a problem, especially when Chelsea play at home.

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