A new crown jewel for London’s property market
Land Securities, a FTSE 100 company and the largest Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) in the UK, is set to transform Victoria (SW1) into a lively district for Londoners to work, live and play with the delivery of a portfolio of development schemes that comprise residential, office and retail spaces.
In fact, for the past ten years or so, Land Securities has been undertaking Victoria’s major regeneration schemes. One of its latest luxury residential offerings in the area, Kings Gate, has just been completed, according to the company’s residential director Tom Eshelby, while its another iconic apartment building in the vicinity, The Nova Building, is due for completion from May 2016.
Last month, he came to Hong Kong to arrange a private viewing and provided latest updates on the London property market alongside heads of residential lettings and global research at Knight Frank, the marketing agent for the properties.
“We came to Hong Kong three years ago to present Kings Gate, and two years ago with the Nova scheme. We were here again last year to meet Nova buyers, Kings Gate buyers. Now that Kings Gate has just been completed with residents moving in, we would also like to meet them up again to tell them what’s going on there,” he said.
Situated alongside The Zig Zag Building, a prime office building recently completed by Land Securities, Kings Gate is perfectly located on Victoria Street, SW1—right in the hub of the new regeneration scheme. This vibrant new area combines high-quality residential living with many of London’s best known cultural and iconic landmarks.
The Kings Gate complex comprises 100 apartments, including studios, 2-3 bedroom apartments and penthouses, arranged over 15 floors. Standard units range from 411 square feet to 1,753 square feet of net saleable floor area, with penthouses starting from 3,337 square feet of net saleable floor area.
The luxurious penthouses come with plenty of outdoor space. Inside, they are thoughtfully designed to create a dramatic, light-filled living space with floor-to-ceiling windows, private bedroom quarters and a show-stopping Georgian-style staircase.
Underneath, Jamie Oliver has taken 7,700 square feet of space across the ground and first floors of the building for its flagship restaurant.
As well as enjoying easy access to all that central London has to offer, residents will also be able to enjoy the new culinary offering at Nova, which creates a vibrant new link between Victoria Station and Buckingham Palace and in turn leads onto the Royal Parks.
In 2016, 18 eateries are set to open in Nova, creating London’s newest and most inviting restaurant quarter. The operators committed to opening their flagship restaurants include Jason Atherton, Adam White, Will Ricker, London restaurant group, Sourced Market, and Ross Shonhan.
What’s more, Kings Gate occupies an enviable position that offers spectacular views across central London with landmarks such as Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey and the royal parks. The complex was architecturally designed by Patrick Lynch, a renowned architect, to offer a contemporary design blended with British touches.
Apart from introducing potential investors to the upper-floor apartments and penthouses in Hong Kong and Singapore, another purpose was to provide them with updates on the rental and sales market trends.
“Deutsche Bank has just signed a 15-year lease with Land Securities. The bank’s wealth management team, which is comprised of 800 bankers, will move into the Zig Zag building soon. Along with the executives from Microsoft, Experian and other hedge funds, proximity to the Zig Zag building offers investors a long-term source of quality tenants,” said Eshelby.
“The strong, steady demand for rental homes from corporate executives will continue to drive the growth of property values of Kings Gate.”
Last month, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, announced that he would levy a 3 per cent stamp duty surcharge on buy-to-let properties from April next year. He also has introduced a new rule requiring landlords to pay capital gains tax within 30 days of selling a property, although the CGT rates remain the same. Non-UK residents disposing of UK residential properties will no longer face potential double charges that occur in some circumstances, however.
“That’s why we need to be here to give regular updates on policy changes, on market trends, and particular areas to go through when buying a London property.”
While stamp duty hikes on higher-valued properties (above £1.5m) may have short-term impact on domestic sales activity, Eshelby believes centrally located properties in London will remain attractive to global investors as they view them as a long-term investment.
Liam Bailey, global head of research at Knight Frank, predicts that London property prices will continue to rise by about 4 per cent year on year for the next five years. For most long-term investors, the fluctuations caused by changes to the tax code do not matter.
Response from Asian buyers to the sale launch of Nova about 2-3 years ago was particularly impressive. Over half of the properties at Nova were sold to buyers from Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong and China, Eshelby said. “Looking back, 2012-2013 was like the turning point when the UK property market began to recover and mainland Chinese buyers emerged as a dominant force.”
A large portion of mainland Chinese buyers channel their money through Hong Kong into the UK property market, and so are buyers from Southeast Asia through Singapore, and that’s why these two cities are picked to showcase their properties.
“Our target market is ultra high net worth individuals and entrepreneurs. They can easily reach us personally or through their representatives in Hong Kong or Singapore.”
Asian buyers are particularly concerned if their investment is safe, he said. In addition to their confidence in the UK property market—one of the most transparent markets in the world, they also look for opportunities to invest in value-for-money property in an established central location.
Hong Kong’s property scene has seen a flurry of sales activity by a number of property developers from the UK in the past few years. But Land Securities would like to make their presence felt not for weeks, but for years.
“We’re taking the whole neighbourhood as a stakeholder. Our work in Victoria is set to transform the area into one of central London’s most desirable places to work, live, shop and invest. We have vested interests that are aligned with theirs. We want to reassure our customers of our commitments and that we care about their long-term interests.”