FT: Why more young professionals are moving to London’s Putney

Putney Bridge

Putney Bridge

Laura Latham - Financial Times --  New developments are transforming the district, attracting more young professionals and overseas buyers.

Travel on busy Upper Richmond Road in London’s east Putney and you will be forgiven for thinking the entire street is being torn down and rebuilt. At regular intervals hoardings announce new blocks of apartments that are about to enter the market, offering just a snapshot of the large number of new development schemes happening in the area.

“Developments are changing the nature of Putney; parts that were looking tired, such as the Upper Richmond Road, are now improving,” says local Savills agent Alex Howard Baker.

“Traditionally, Putney attracted families. But we’re now seeing a wider international mix and more investors, young professionals and those who want a pied-à-terre in the city.”

Putney is desirable for those wanting to live and work in the capital: close enough for easy access to the city’s main business and leisure areas yet detached enough to have plenty of green spaces. There are bus services, a District line Tube station and a rail line that connects to Waterloo in 20 minutes. River buses also operate between here and Blackfriars or Canary Wharf.

Famous as the starting point of the Oxford and Cambridge boat race, and within sight of the Hurlingham Club’s polo fields on the opposite bank of the river, Putney has long been regarded as genteel. Its attractive streets, lined mainly with period homes, are very popular with families who gravitate to the area for its highly ranked schools and because it is about 10 per cent cheaper than neighbouring Barnes.

Baker says demand for quality family homes here outstrips supply and prices in the area are showing significant rises as a result.

Overall values have increased more than 12 per cent since last year and three to five-bedroom houses in the best areas sell on average for between £950,000 to £1.75m, while large homes with grounds can reach £5m.

Savills is marketing a five-bedroom, semi-detached, villa-style house with a garden in west Putney for £1.95m, and a five-bedroom contemporary renovation at £2.35m, while Knight Frank is offering a six-bedroom, new-build property for £3.5m and a detached, seven-bedroom residence close to Richmond Park for £5m.

There is also a smattering of early 20th-century mansion flats and a large supply of postwar blocks that are dated in appearance but more affordable for young couples and first-time buyers. A rising number of newer apartment schemes are now muscling in.

Most are near East Putney station and include Langham Square, Putney Plaza and London Square, offering sleek interiors, glass-fronted balconies and chic penthouses. One-bedroom units in Putney Plaza cost £500,000 and in London Square from £545,000. Two-bedroom units are generally priced from £650,000 to £800,000.

According to Katie Thompson, sales manager for London Square, this style of residential accommodation is needed in Putney. She cites that 40 per cent of the development’s 113 units sold off plan and a further 14 sold immediately on launch. “When we purchased the site two years ago, SW15 was seen as an area very much in need of housing,” she says, referring to the Putney postcode.

“It was also felt that new developments with a mix of residents, many of whom are professionals, would contribute to the improvement of the area by attracting new businesses, shops and restaurants.”

A large number of these projects are located on the sites of postwar office blocks, most of which had become almost impossible to let to businesses as they were considered ugly and outdated. Some of the new residential schemes have provided retail quarters and, in the case of London Square, adaptable office premises.

However, the loss of commercial space on such a large scale has concerned some locals, who worry that Putney may become less lively in the daytime, as workers commute out of the area and fewer travel in.

“We need to ensure there’s enough life in Putney on weekdays so local shops and businesses are supported,” says Judith Chegwidden, of the Putney Society, which monitors planning issues and works with the local authority to improve quality of life in the district.

The society fears more development will put strain on local transport. It has campaigned to cut traffic and improve air quality, and proposed a new footpath under Putney Bridge to improve access across the Thames.

Chegwidden, a Putney resident for more than 30 years, says she finds property price increases “extraordinary” and worries that the community may change too much.

“Putney is a nice, friendly place,” she adds, “but there are concerns it may become overdeveloped. The authorities need to plan well to deal with such an increase in population.”

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Buying guide

The average current price of a house in Putney is £707,332

The average time that properties are on the market is 91 days

Wandsworth (which includes Putney) is the safest borough in inner London with 21,497 crimes recorded over the 12 months to August 2014, against a Metropolitan Police total of 692,134

More than 50 per cent of buyers in Putney are British

What you can buy for . .

£500,000 A two-bedroom flat in a desirable building

£1m A four-bedroom terraced house

£5m A six-bedroom detached house

Source: Financial Times

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