Local homeowners who are thinking of a design revamp in the near future may be very pleased to hear about the new initiative ‘Architect in the House’ – one which also benefits the housing and homelessness charity Shelter. Local architect Peter Morris and his architectural practice Peter Morris Architects are taking part in this scheme, which is being jointly promoted by Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) and Shelter.

Anyone can sign up to receive an hour’s consultation with RIBA chartered architect Peter Morris for any home project large or small that they’re intending to work on – whether that’s a new kitchen extension, an interior design revamp or building an entirely new house. In return, a suggested £45 donation to Shelter is requested, which makes this great value for some top creative and professional architectural advice with money also going to a very worth cause.

Architect in the House - Peter Morris Architects
Peter Morris

Peter Morris said:

“New research from has shown that nearly two-thirds of homeowners have lived in the same home for at least ten years. With more of us staying put while our families grow, home improvements can be the best option in making sure our homes fit our changing needs.”

Architect in the House - Before
A project in Notting Hill – before…
Architect in the House - After
…and after consultation

Chris Delahunt, a local homeowner who has benefitted from the Architect in the House initiative, said:

“I used the Architect Peter Morris’ expertise after reading about the Architect in The House scheme. Peter visited our house and gave fantastic design advice in return for a small donation to Shelter. I wanted to recommend the whole scheme because it’s fantastic. As a self-confessed “Grand Designs” obsessive I also liked the idea of talking to a proper architect! I live in a Victorian terrace house which was originally 2 x flats and as a result it has a huge amount of dead space and small rooms. I was interested to see what Peter might have to say regarding our options, likelihood of planning consent, approximate costs etc. I didn’t expect to gain the level of insight that I did, especially regarding planning consent and what is and isn’t permitted in terms of issues such as party wall agreements. Our house has a “side return” in the back garden which is relatively useful but far from essential and we learned that planning permission for building into side returns is far less proscriptive than we had thought. We also wanted to explore our options regarding knocking down internal walls and opening out the whole ground floor, Peter was able to quickly and clearly explain our options. The costs to us was a £45 donation to Shelter which is a cause that we support anyway and the couple of hours of Peter’s time was invaluable. Heartily recommended if you want to rebuild or extend your kitchen, build a new house or work on interior design and want time with an architect. We are actually going ahead with the work with Peter as our architect on the back of our evening of advice. A great scheme.”

Further proof that this certainly is a great opportunity to receive professional advice from a prestigious architectural firm whilst also supporting the charity Shelter. Given that nearly two-thirds of homeowners have been “in their home for at least ten years” (English Housing Survey), we’re sure that many of you are trying to think up clever ways of utilising the most of your space. In fact, we can’t see why anyone with any upcoming home renovation plans wouldn’t want to take advantage of this scheme immediately!

Please contact Peter Morris at Peter Morris Architects on 0773 888 7218 or peter@petermorrisarchitects.com to take part in Architect in the House.

For more details about Peter Morris Architects, please see www.petermorrisarchitects.com or check them out on Twitter.

House price and property valuation website MousePrice.com have released their annual list of the UK’s most expensive streets, organised by region and then collated into one list for the country as a whole. Somewhat surprisingly (I would have thought there would be some expensive addresses somewhere else in the country!), the UK’s top 20 most expensive streets for 2010 is merely a replicated list of London’s priciest streets. Of course, the data is based on prices actually paid for properties taken from the Land Registry with an attempt to calculate current values accordingly; I assume there must be some upmarket streets out there in the UK which simply don’t have a high turnover of owners!

As with the title of this post, 12 of the UK’s top 20 priciest streets are based in the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea. These streets are located in the SW3, W8 and W14 postcodes – none are in the W11 postcode that encompasses much of Notting Hill!
The Kensington & Chelsea streets featured in the list are:
  • Carlyle Square, SW3 ranked 4th (with an average property value of £5,625,100)
  • Cottesmore Gardens, W8 ranked 5th (£5,503,500)
  • Essex Villas, W8 ranked 7th (£5,121,900)
  • Ilchester Place, W14 ranked 9th (£5,099,300)
  • Victoria Road, W8 ranked 10th (£5,007,300)
  • Chelsea Square, SW3 ranked 12th (£4,913,400)
  • The Vale, SW3 ranked 13th (£4,905,900)
  • Eldon Road, W8 ranked 14th (£4,893,000)
  • Albert Place, W8 ranked 17th (£4,669,400)
  • Thornwood Gardens, W8 ranked 18th (£4,558,800)
  • Upper Phillimore Gardens, W8 ranked 19th (£4,535,900)
  • Douro Place, W8 ranked 20th (£4,510,000)
The most expensive street in London – and therefore the most expensive street in the country – remains Chester Square in SW1, with the average value of a property there reaching £6,596,000.
The full report can be read here: MousePrice.com’s Annual Street Rankings 2010 (PDF file)
Barely a week goes by without more news and stats about the property market in London and, given the affluent status of the borough, most mention Kensington & Chelsea! Here’s a roundup of some recent news:
  • Easier Property reports on a recent Primelocation.com study which reviewed the size of properties that £1 million gets you. Unsurprisingly, London came up with the smallest properties in the country, with Kensington & Chelsea the “worst” value. A £1 million property here will only get you 1,443 square feet; by comparison, a million pound home in Liverpool will stretch to 4,000 square feet in size.
  • In related news, £1 million properties have seen a recovery for a number of areas of the capital, including Kensington & Chelsea. Your Mortgage report that, overall for London, the number of properties sold in this price bracket rose by 2% in 2009, whilst in Kensington & Chelsea this figure stood at 11%.
  • Meanwhile, Businessweek reports on data compiled by estate agency Knight Frank, who say that the value of properties above the £1 million mark in London have risen in value by 3.2% from January to February, and by 17% from February 2009 to the same month this year. Knight Frank takes its data from a number of wealthy neighbourhoods in London, including Kensington & Chelsea; prices for these areas are still below their peak, though their rise is fueled by a shortage of properties by strong demand from buyers, particularly foreign buyers who are attracted by the current weak Pound. The same article also states that developers are being brought by this upward trend in the property market; new “construction starts” increased by 43% between July and December 2009 in Kensington & Chelsea.
  • Nothing to do with £1 million homes (well, maybe not…or maybe?!) Country Life points out that almost 8% of properties in the Kensington & Chelsea are “second homes” (i.e. pied a terres and similar) which apparently equates to 7,000 properties in the area.

There’s been a number of recent articles in the press on everyone’s favourite topic – property prices – and what they’re doing in the borough of Kensington & Chelsea and Notting Hill.

The latest article is published in today’s Evening Standard. House prices have risen by 51% in the “bonus belt” – areas of London that are favoured by city bankers (and international buyers), such as Kensington and Notting Hill – during the tail-end of last year. This follows the property slump that was at its worst in February and means that house prices have now, supposedly, surpassed the peak of 2007 with some properties even going for record prices.
Whilst some may feel that trying to predict what house prices will do next is a bit like sticking your finger in the air, such articles show one quite important thing. Areas such as Kensington and Notting Hill will always be popular with a wide variety of buyers because they’re such prime areas of London. Any general slump in the property market will of course have an effect in Kensington, but in other ways than prices being completely slashed – such as a lack of supply as people hold on to their properties, waiting for an upturn in prices. (Or, I suppose, an offer they can’t refuse.)

Just before Christmas, it was also revealed that one of the most expensive streets in the country is Wycombe Square, W8 – which is, in fact, just south of Notting Hill Gate. Whilst I don’t doubt it’s an incredibly expensive “street”, with an amazingly pricey collection of properties, the new-build nature of this gated community isn’t exactly your average British road. (And not just because of property prices.) This information comes from a report by Halifax, and is based on property sales between 2005 and 2009. A number of other streets in the borough of Kensington & Chelsea are also on the list (of 20 streets), although I can think of many more streets in the area that should be on the list. (The Boltons in Chelsea and the surrounding streets? The mansions of Holland Park? What about “Embassy Row” – Kensington Palace Gardens – where properties go for £50 – £80 million?!) I guess those were streets in which people didn’t sell during this time period; once you’ve bought, how can you possibly trade up?