In a list compiled by accountancy firm Grant Thornton last year of the most “vibrant” places in England to live and work, Richmond-upon-Thames was the only place in London to qualify for the list. With more green space than anywhere else in the capital – and its biggest, most deer-stuffed Royal Park – Richmond is positively blooming.
“Richmond hasn’t seen many changes in the past decade,” says Christopher Howard, Richmond sales manager for Foxtons. “The area’s demographic, comprising mainly of affluent families, has remained consistent for the last five to ten years, while property prices have doubled.”
This is down to large numbers of people moving within the borough, and from other parts of London. “Over the last 12 months £600m of housing wealth flowed into Richmond from other parts of London, the largest movement of money anywhere in the capital,” says David Fell research analyst at Hamptons International estate agent.
This is also confirmed by estate agent Savills, which says nearly half of all its buyers are upsizers from the area. “Local residents grow up nearby and settle or move to the area and remain long term,” says Daniel Hutchins from Savills Richmond.
With fewer people leaving and more Londoners aspiring to live in the area, property is in demand yet there is very little room to develop new stock – hence the price growth. Only seven per cent of homes sold last year were new builds, according to data from Hamptons International using Land Registry figures.
Current stock largely consists of period housing or conversions – such as The Star and Garter, a refurbishment of a Grade II listed former military hospital. Its view of the Thames was famously painted by JMW Turner and remains the only view to be protected by an Act of Parliament today.
Luke Ellwood, from Knight Frank South West London says Richmond’s “popularity means that a lack of available stock remains the biggest challenge for buyers.”
“The area’s demographic, comprising mainly of affluent families, has remained consistent for the last five to ten years, while property prices have doubled.”
But for those with a spectacular budget, there are properties to match if you know where to look. The most sought after areas are King Street near Richmond Green and Lichfield Gardens, as well as the “hidden” cottages lining the network of regally named streets known as “The Alberts”.
Cyclists in Richmond Park with the protected view in the background
Doughty House, a stately home on Richmond Hill, is currently on the market for £100m. “Indeed, I know of another one or two of comparable significance which will be coming to market soon, commanding record values,” says Oliver Griffiths, sales manager at Jackson-Stops Richmond.
Just to make things more crowded, Europeans are also making their mark on the market. “The German school in Petersham and the Swedish school in Barnes keep the northern Europeans flocking here, and the easy access to Heathrow,” says Anne-Marie Desborough, sales director at Dexters Richmond.
Foxtons says you should expect to pay around £500,000 for a one bed flat, £750,000 for a two bed upgrade and over £2m for a family house. But that’s what you pay for the borough that has it all; combining the convenience of the city with the beauty of the countryside.
Richmond Park is a vital part of the local landscape, covering some 2,500 acres. It was once known as the Manor of Sheen, but the name for this patch of ancient grassland and woodland was changed to Richmond during the reign of King Henry VII. Richmond Theatre is a fixture of the local area, too, a Victorian building whose shows often transfer to the West End. A production of As You Like It is currently on, which is the same play it opened with in 1899. For a bite to eat, head to The Duke gastropub, which has pre-theatre specials that come with a complimentary glass of wine. The Sunday roast offering is pretty extensive, too – and vegetarian-friendly. For dessert, try family-run Gelateria Danieli. With stores on Brewer’s Lane and Richmond Green, its low-fat ice cream, sorbets and chocolates are a local success story, recently expanding to neighbouring Kingston. If you really want to wine and dine someone, The Bingham, a Georgian townhouse overlooking the Thames, is a stunning choice. It’s a boutique hotel as well as a gourmet bolthole.
House pricesSource: Zoopla
Time to Canary Wharf: 45 mins
Time to Liverpool Street: 48 mins
Nearest train station: Richmond
Buyer type Source: Hamptons International
First time buyers
5 per cent
82 per cent
13 per cent