Living in a mansion block

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Time Out finds out what it's like to live in one of London's many swanky mansion blocks

  • London’s mansion blocks were mostly built around the beginning of the twentieth century to provide apartments for the burgeoning middle classes. They received a mixed reception: some associated the flats with the lower classes. Today, many offer a surprisingly affordable option to singletons and first-time buyers; we’ve found one-bedroom flats in central London mansion blocks (in areas such as Marylebone and Russell Square) from the £135,000 mark. We asked Clapham Mansions resident, teacher Laura Cooper, 45, for the insider view on mansion-block living.

    What are the advantages?

    ‘I enjoy the convenience of living here. I’m very close to the tube station and Clapham Common, so it’s easy to get to work. We are in a conservation area, so there are restrictions on what can be done to the outside – we wouldn’t be allowed to change the windows, for instance – but it means that the block is well looked-after.

    Because mansion flats were purpose built, the rooms have unusually large dimensions. With conversions, you often end up with a chopped-up bit of the livingroom as the kitchen. Also, because the flats are managed, it makes life easier in that you don’t have to organise any maintenance work, and we’ve got a garden that is looked after by a gardener.’

    Is there a service charge?

    ‘It’s £2,500 per year, which is a lot, but that includes insurance for the building, cleaning, gardening and maintenance. We don’t have an on-site porter, although a person takes the rubbish away every day.’

    Do you have a lift?

    ‘There’s no lift, although we have an external pulley that was used to bring coal up; nowadays it’s just decorative. We have to carry everything up, but the stairs are reasonably wide. You just have to remember to tell the delivery company to send two strong guys when you have heavy deliveries like washing machines.’

    Is there a sense of community?

    ‘There are 32 flats in my block, so there are usually people around, and I think people are reasonably considerate. We’ve also got a residents’ committee. It’s constantly changing here; there are more people living here now with small children than in the past – probably becausethey can’t afford to buy a house!’

    Where do you keep a bike or car?

    ‘We’re not supposed to leave bikes in the common hallway, because it invalidates the insurance. There are a few garages, though not enough for every flat, and there is an in-and-out driveway where people can park. We do have a parking problem – as in so many areas of London.’

    Ot

    her capital mansion blocks

    Latymer Court, W14.
    Albert Hall Mansions, Kensington Gore, SW7.
    Cavendish Mansions, Hazelbourne Rd, SW12.
    Harvard and Yale Courts, Honeybourne Rd, NW6.
    Elgin Avenue, W9.
    Prince of Wales Mansions, Prince of Wales Drive, SW11.

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