British buyers have long favoured traditional homes over new-builds – and with historic stock including half-timbered manors, Georgian rectories, Edwardian mansions and Victorian villas, it’s easy to see why. In the UK, character and heritage go hand in hand. An old house has romantic associations – a sense of lives lived.
But the latest generation of luxurious new-build houses and apartments is becoming the first choice for buyers. And developers have stepped up to the mark, providing prime properties across the country that are sleek, secure, sustainable and with all the services a homeowner could ever need.
“The luxury new-build market in London and elsewhere has been transformed over the past 30 years,” says Edward Lewis, head of residential development sales at Savills. “It’s moved from ‘anything goes’ to a more refined and design-led approach, reflecting how buyers actually like to live in the 21st century.”
Certainly the British new-build has been on a journey. A few decades ago, it was, more often than not, a functional, edge-of-town box. An already-biased domestic market preferred characterful mansions and terraces that had matured with age. Plus, as Lewis says, there simply weren’t many opportunities at the upper end of the market. In London, warehouse conversions emerged in the 1980s, and luxurious new-builds popped up at sites such as Chelsea Harbour and Canary Wharf, but otherwise pickings were slim.