ASK THE EXPERTS
Susan Cohen, head of lettings at Pastor Real Estate, on the importance of placemaking
Interview: Ellie Costigan
Image: John Holdship
What do you mean by ‘placemaking’?
When we talk about placemaking, what we’re referring to is the idea that an area can be somewhere you live, work and have your social life, all in one place. It’s a destination.
How does Marylebone fit the bill?
In Marylebone, you’ve got everything you could want. It’s got wonderful transport links: in the south there’s Bond Street and you’ve got Crossrail coming; to the north you’ve got Baker Street and Marylebone station, which is good for commuting. There are lovely green spaces—what could be better than Regent’s Park? The architecture and buildings are beautiful, there’s lots of heritage. There are Michelin-starred restaurants, but also local cafes. It’s a nice place to come home to. We also find that in the highly sought-after postcodes, it’s less densely populated than some, and that’s attractive to people. There is a real feeling of space.
Do these elements increase the desirability of buying/ letting in the area? Is now a good time to invest?
If you’re looking to make quick profits, then no. But you can see by the figures that long-term investment is failsafe: over a 10-year period, the average sale price has increased by 190 per cent. While rental yields in prime central London are low, there’s fantastic capital growth. I believe if you are prepared to hold on to your property, it will pay dividends. Furthermore, generally speaking, if the sales market isn’t doing particularly well, lettings usually picks up. Marylebone will always be somewhere people want to live.
Who does Marylebone appeal to as a destination?
It attracts a lot of families. There is a selection of larger properties, which suits those with children, and certainly you’d be well placed for schools and colleges. Mature students also form a large proportion of our tenant base. Many are international students, and they have very good budgets. Their parents are often cautious about their children living in London and they want them to be in a safe area, which this is. Buildings that offer some security, whether that be a concierge, caretaker, or just good CCTV, alarms and locks, are therefore desirable. We also have lots of tenants who work in the city. There’s a real mixture of people here, which is nice.
Have you noticed an uptick in demand for this sort of location?
There has been a huge surge in popularity. We have an office on Chelsea Green, which is also very much like a little village, and it attracts a similar sort of person—those who are looking for somewhere to make a home. Another thing I’ve noticed over the last eight to 10 years is, whereas before there were many applicants who asked for Mayfair only, now we’re often getting people requesting Marylebone—sometimes even specific streets.
Is there anything you might need to bear in mind before moving to the area?
There’s only one thing I can think of, and it’s applicable to every area of prime central—you might buy somewhere, move in, and building work springs up. But we have very sensible clients, who realise this can be a problem. They’re adaptable with the rents and price accordingly. Usually we know in advance, and if we do, we always tell our tenants. But that’s how London’s going to develop—it’s the only way we’re going to move forward—and you’ll see a direct correlation between these well-performing areas, and the amount of building work that’s happened in the last 10 years or so. Even in the most residential street you’ll get noise, which is something to consider, but all that means is it’s growing as an area—and I believe The Howard de Walden and Portman Estates’ continued investment will only bring Marylebone more to the fore.