ASK THE EXPERTS
Christian Lock-Necrews, partner at Knight Frank Marylebone, on the property market and the public realm
Images: Kris Piotrowski
How has the development of Marylebone’s public realm affected the property market?
Ultimately it was the regeneration of the high street, initiated by The Howard de Walden Estate, that breathed new life into the area. Instead of being a forgotten urban backwater, it has absolutely become one of the primary requests for people looking to buy or let in London. Further regeneration by The Portman Estate, particularly with Chiltern Street—the introduction of the Firehouse, upgrading the retail offering—and now schemes like the Baker Street two-way have made the area even more popular.
It’s no good having a beautiful apartment or a lovely house if you can’t step out of your door onto an attractive street and go to a nice cafe, an art gallery or a theatre. While we have always benefited from beautiful green spaces, it’s the changes in retail and public realm driven by the estates that have really taken Marylebone to a new level.
You mentioned the Baker Street two-way—how much impact do you think that will have on the area?
Knight Frank moved into Baker Street in 2008. Over the past 10 years, we have seen a real improvement in the offering—the streetscape has changed, different restaurants and cafes have popped up. It definitely offers more of the services you want as a community, but I believe it is going to go a step further with the implementation of the two-way plan, which will see the level of traffic reduced, making it feel less like a motorway. They are also expanding the walkways, so there will be beautiful wide, deep pavements as well as more crossing areas, making it more pedestrian-friendly. I think there is an investor play to be made here.
How would you describe the feel of the area now?
The atmosphere here is brilliant. It has a sort of heartbeat, a pulse, with busy, thriving streets. There are people from all walks of life, young and old—the area is really eclectic in terms of its offering, and so in turn are the residents. There’s a real community. You sit in your local cafe and people know each other. I think that’s amazing. It’s not deserted on the weekends and summer months, like some areas—it’s an area you can live and thrive in. I don’t think any other central location has that like Marylebone does.
Have recent residential developments added to the area?
I think they have improved the area in many different ways. First, in terms of aesthetics. Take Chiltern Street as an example—you had the car park, which doesn’t exist anymore, and the 1960s office block, which has since been developed into beautiful apartments. Because the new development is a high grade offering, it helps support everyone who owns in the area, protecting them from downward pressures. I am personally a fan of the architecture, too. Not everyone is going to love it, but I believe it has been done very cleverly. There are other new buildings and redevelopments that work well, too. A lot of effort has been made to ensure these buildings are not incongruous—that they really fit with the area and will stand the test of time. I think they have done a great job.
What do you like most about working here?
For me it is probably the restaurant offering. I am a real foodie and Marylebone is an area that excels at that. You can go for a Japanese, a Chinese, a French meal, a Spanish meal—nearly every nation is represented. It’s incredible to be in one single area and have access to cuisine from all over the world. For me that is a real treat.