Westminster: Big Ben as your kitchen clock

I’m delighted to report that we have been asked to advise on two different buildings located in Little College Street, Westminster and backing onto Cowley Street. As you can see from the view of Big Ben they are in a wonderful location with spectacular views.

Little College Street is, arguably, close enough to Westminster Abbey for anyone living here to hear the choirboys sing, watch the hands of Big Ben move, follow political comings and goings better than any parliamentary sketch writer, and watch state occasions from an armchair.

One of the houses, an early Georgian property needs restoration It was built in 1722 – only 12 years after St Paul’s Cathedral was finished, the year in which Daniel Defoe wrote Journal of The Plague Year – on a site right next to the political and religious fulcrum of the country. It comprises a basement level and three storeys with a façade 5 windows wide and a central entrance door. It has a Grade II* listing

 

The other commission relates to a house designed by the eminent architect Sir Edwin Lutyens that was built in 1911 and needs conversion from previous use as offices and sales rooms back to its original use as a dwelling house.

Full planning and Listed Building Consent has been secured and we continue to work closely with Westminster’s conservation team on the preconstruction stages of the restoration and conversion of what back in 2001 was described by the Lutyens Trust as a ‘superbly restored piece of Sir Edwin’s work’.

The streets here are littered with political reputations made and lost. Nearby in Cowley Street is the recently vacated headquarters of the Liberal Democrats that has been converted to a luxury home. It is widely reported that a wealthy American has paid £1 million to rent the former headquarters for a year – in Britain’s most expensive ‘try-before-you-buy’ property deal.

The top end of the housing market has suffered in recent years on the back of political uncertainty, Brexit and increased stamp duty and this has led to an increase in super-tenants who choose to ‘test drive’ a mansion before committing to buying.

Close to this is the home of Baroness Wilcox and just around the corner is Lord North Street, “the street of a thousand resignations”, where Jonathan Aitken fought to stop his house from being repossessed.

Michael Portillo borrowed a house here from which to run his campaign for the leadership of the Conservative Party. The Bishop of London’s home is in a particularly fine position; and a few steps further away is the house where Lawrence of Arabia once lived.

Within five minutes’ walk of the front door you can be in the world of the Westminster schoolboy, or among the tombs and memorials of the Abbey, or in the silence of the Abbey garden, with its espaliered trees, where a stern notice reads: “No games allowed other than croquet.”