In recent years Victoria has dramatically changed, growing from an oil and civil service office-dominated location to a high-end mixed-use district, says Mark Fisher of Tuckerman.
Indeed, the pace of change has increased exponentially since Land Securities committed its intentions to the area through the development of over I million sq ft at its Nova and ZigZag schemes. The transformation has also encouraged cutting edge consumer brands to the area, such as Gameloft and Kering.
The fundamentals of Victoria have remained, it is still the heart of government and the monarchy, it is an area of Royal parks, the river, two palaces, a world heritage site, and prestigious neighbouring areas – it is quintessentially London. However, the landscape is evolving. Grade A office space is emerging to support the corporate occupier, who are attracted to the area as a result of dramatic investment, as well as Victoria transforming into a sought after residential location.
It has been previously overlooked as a prime part of Central London even though its location is both historically and aesthetically appealing.
Now that the tube station is being upgraded and the food offering is also being radically improved by Land Securities, Victoria is beginning to be seen as a modern alternative to Belgravia and Knightsbridge. Chelsea and the West End are still on the doorstep, but here, lateral apartments are available with a share of the freehold and change out of £2,000 per sq ft.
The floodgates to residential have now been closed to too much more conversion, and a vibrant mixed-use area is emerging. The grey sixties office blocks have been replaced with both commercial and residential uses as well as a broad range of retail and leisure.
The new breed of commercial occupier, fashion companies and hedge funds, are filling the bars and restaurants – and now more are on the way. The Nova scheme in particular will bring about real change in the area around the station, with pedestrian covered streets being created for al-fresco dining, where there were previously just dilapidated buildings.
Pushing residential values to the next level will need One Hyde Park style concierge services perhaps, which are sought after by the overseas buyers particularly. The scale of the proposed New Scotland Yard scheme could certainly justify this and give it the required critical mass. One Buckingham Gate will be the next large development to create a new benchmark level, but penthouses have achieved £3,000 per sq ft elsewhere and it will be interesting to see what views of Buckingham Palace gardens can command. 6-9 Buckingham Gate is the first of the Uber-high-end developments to come through from Moutgrange and Rothschild. Opposite Buckingham Palace, it breaks the mould at over £3,500 per sq ft. It’s now completed but the £50 million price tag for the house is yet to be swallowed by a purchaser. Viewings are exclusive in the extreme.
Any previous snobbishness about the area is being dramatically updated. Overseas buyers in particular appreciate the proximity of Buckingham Palace and Parliament as well as the remaining huge scope for increasing value based on the fundamentals of the location.
With the new occupier base moving into Victoria, this pace is unlikely to slow. The balance between retail, leisure, commercial office and residential is starting to be realised. As the various schemes work together the next year will be crucial for Victoria, in finding its identity within its fast changing environment.