What makes Kensington and Chelsea special

Friday, August 20, 2010 by Ed Mead

RBKC, only four letters but given they denote an area that contains some of the most expensive real estate on the planet it’s not surprising that people aspire to live here, and that the property market here polarises opinion.

Firstly some facts; if you use May 1995 as a base of 100, as of May 2010 nationally the index had gone to 265, but in RBKC it’s gone to 458. So over the same period property in this sought after location has increased 216% more than the national average. The average property price is c. £870k. (Land Registry)

It’s a huge Borough, from the up and coming, see any number of articles about David Cameron occupying the northern most edges, to international bywords like Harrods and Sloane Square. Indeed you can live close to the Harrow Road and still park free off the King’s Road on the same residents parking permit.

As you move around the Borough you become aware that the word ghetto, although a bit strong, does have currency. Italians love The Kings Road and South Ken, the French around Queen’s Gate, those from the Middle East love Knightsbridge, Hedgies Notting Hill Gate and those looking for the ultimate ego trip simply can’t resist Kensington Palace Gardens where values are fractions of billions, with ¼ £1billion not off the scale impossible. There are plenty of Trophy addresses that offer the buyer instant membership of an exclusive set and trade at prices that make no logical sense. Occasionally you’ll see a single square foot of space selling for over £6000 and I’m not sure anywhere else can quite top that.

The reasons for this madness are mostly obvious. The Greenwich Meridian is a happy quirk of fate that means anyone wishing to trade 24/7 HAS to live here, and those who move money around dominate the upper echelons of the property market. This becomes more pronounced given that they tend to move more often and thus we see their wealth, and their properties, displayed for all and sundry. Proper old money stays put and is suitably discreet.

London has a well deserved reputation for stability, helped by being an island, and at any one time there is likely to be an area of the World doing well economically. Anyone with money in such a Country is going to be wondering what to do with their money and now we actually have a Government that’s not hell bent of booting out rich foreigners (or rich people at all) they all want to have a gaff in London, and more often than not that means Chelsea. Given that Sterling has been a little punch drunk recently many have also taken advantage creating an even bigger imbalance that’s helped drive many properties back over their 2007/8 peaks.

The need to sell is also less here and that’s evidenced by volumes that are half those at the peak, so although estate agents tend to get on better here than anywhere else in the Country, they’re fighting over a very small and apparently disappearing waterhole.