SW3 house prices hit the roof


Despite the UK property market being generally stagnant, Kensington’s has stayed healthy, experiencing much growth.


By Joel Durston

Media recently is awash with images of mega-wealth from SW3 and its surrounds – Mayfair, Belgravia, Chelsea and Kensington – millionaire footballers and rich debutantes.

Of course the media manipulates many images, but startling new statistics suggest this image is largely accurate.

According to Find a Property, an average SW3 property sells at £902,335, with average prices of detached houses, semi-detached houses and terraced houses all more than £2million – around £2,771,000, £2,284,000 and £2,026,000 respectively.

Despite the UK property market being generally stagnant, Kensington’s has stayed healthy, experiencing much growth.

This is in stark contrast to, for example, nearby Stratford where, the average house price is over five times less at just under £180,000.

The difference in house prices has effects even as seemingly unconnected as health.

Recent statistics show average female Kensington residents can expect to live nearly 12 years longer than Glaswegian counterparts and males; 13.5 years – a widening symptomatic of nationwide trends.

Danny Dorling, University of Sheffield demographer, said: “House Prices are going up rapidly in places like Kensington and Chelsea.

“They do not have the same health problems and can afford food and have no problem paying fuel bills. They are not touched by the recession.”

Fuel costs have doubled as a share of median household income since 2004 and now claim an estimated 2,700 lives every winter.

These disparities are also due to high numbers of SW3 residents who have access to private healthcare and/or gyms, and their many benefits, contributing to Kensington being the estimated 4th healthiest place in the UK.

Another significant cause and effect of Kensington’s affluence is education.

There are 11 independent schools in the Royal Borough of Chelsea and Kensington – seven more than state secondaries.

For typical A-Level study, Ashbourne College costs £7,125, More House School; £29,250, Queens Gate School; £30,700, Duff Miller College; £33,500 and Mander Portman Woodward college, at least £35,556.

In addition, nearly all students are subject to academic selection such as entrance exams.

Headmaster of Ashbourne College, Michael Kirby, says in the school’s prospectus: “With classes only exceptionally exceeding 10, we stress the importance placed on individual attention.”

Financially and academically fenced-off private schools such as these use their money and status to get better resources and smaller class sizes, which create better general results.

Also, many private institutions are particularly good at promoting extra-curricular activities and ‘soft skills’ such as exam skills and interview technique so useful for ‘Red-brick’ or Oxbridge entrance.

This is a good route to ‘elite’ jobs in itself, but especially when coupled with ‘helicopter parents’ – parents always there ‘flying’ around their kids to help them get this or that gig, put them up rent-free and help them financially.

Many commentators claim, to varying degrees, glamourous images of egregious wealth and consumption coupled with the harsh realities of austerity led many to riot.

Many rioters themselves, such as the notorious ‘Riot Girls’, claimed their actions were directed against ‘the rich’ or ‘them’.

“It’s the government’s fault. The Conservatives or whoever. It’s the rich people; the people who have got businesses and that’s why all of this has happened – because of the rich people,” a ‘Riot Girl’ said.

“We’re just showing the rich people we can do what we want.”

In terms of the housing market, many find the expensive property ladder in Kensington prohibitive.

However, Peter Rollings, 48, Chief Executive of Chelsea & Kensington estate agents Marsh & Parsons, claims this is to be expected.

“It’s natural in any city that some parts are very expensive,” he said. “There is fantastic architecture, museums…everything one could want, it’s here. So many people want to live here. It can’t surprise anybody.”

He admitted the difficulty for first time buyers, but made no apologies for this.

“It’s a naïve proposition to think that many first time buyers will be able to buy places there, but that’s the same in places anywhere – Manchester, Glasgow, Birmingham,” he said.

“If you want to live there, you buy somewhere else, work hard and then maybe get a place later in life. You buy what you can afford.”

So it seems, for better or for worse, Kensington will be…well, Kensington for years to come….

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