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London Property Market 22 January 2015

Chestertons Residential Observer - January 2015

Westminster City Council has announced plans for a clampdown on office-to-residential conversions in central London.

Nick Barnes, Head of Research

UK monthly transactions (non-seasonally adjusted) in November fell below the 100,000 level for the first time since April and were 10.2% lower than in November 2013. Nonetheless, total transactions for the year to November were still 3.9% higher than for the full year 2013.

  • The Halifax has reported that the number of first-time buyers rose last year to reach the highest level since 2007 on the back of better mortgage deals, although the average deposit is still almost 70% higher than it was before the financial crisis.
  • There was a significant increase in the volume of housing permissions by local authorities in 2014, according to data published by the Home Builders' Federation (HBF) and Glenigan. 194,820 residential property permissions were granted in 2014 - the highest level of new housing starts in the UK since 2008.
  • The latest ARLA quarterly survey reports that national tenant demand weakened in Q4, with the proportion of respondents saying that there are more tenants than there are properties falling from 68% to 65%. However, in prime central London, the reverse was true with the ratio increasing from 44% to 47%.
  • ARLA report that the national average gross residential rental yield stood at 5.2% in Q4 2014. The equivalent figure for prime central London was 4.4%, rising to 5.1% for the South East. The highest yield (6.5%) was recorded in the North East.
  • Apollo Global Real Estate Management has acquired a 1,642 unit residential portfolio from RBS for £210m in one of the UK's largest ever private rented sector transactions.
  • Westminster City Council has announced plans for a clampdown on office-to-residential conversions in central London. Under the proposals, an existing requirement to provide equivalent residential space when office space in a building is increased by more than 2,150 sq ft would be relaxed. In addition, the council proposes that when an office-to-residential conversion increases the floorspace by more than 30%, an equivalent amount of commercial and/or social and community floorspace must also be provided.
  • Helical Bar's Barts Square mixed-use scheme will be the City of London's largest new residential development. In total, Barts Square will comprise 235 apartments, plus 230,000 sq ft of office space and 23,000 sq ft of retail and leisure space.