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Interesting properties: what’s that puffing in the garden?

It is not unusual for vendors to offer extra items to buy on top of a property’s sale price including white goods, curtains and even carpets.

But William Heller, who has just sold his large five-bedroom detached house near Bideford in Devon for £875,000 had been offering the most surprising additional item we’ve heard of for a while – a steam railway.

For an extra £150,000 the buyer of his home Amberwynd was able to acquire a working miniature railway in the huge grounds to the rear of the property. The line is no child’s plaything and although the gauge of the rails is narrow, locomotives of up to 3.5 tonnes operate on the line pulling carriages transporting up to 80 people.

The line starts at a station to the side of the property before winding through trees in its landscaped back garden, past the signal box and out through a small wood and into a large field, which it travels around in two large ‘S’ shapes before the line ends.

Mr Heller, whose day job is being a TV cameraman, is a life-long train enthusiast who has taken his love of railways from attic model sets slowly through to his current line.  On running days his trains run to strict schedules and he is joined by a station master and signalman while Mr Heller drives the trains.

November 13, 2012 at 3:54 PM Leave a comment

Britain’s first £200m home revealed

The number of people who can afford it will be very small, but nevertheless one of London’s most venerable landmarks is to be converted into a home and sold for £200m making it Britain’s most expensive home.

The property, which was built in 1750 for the Second Earl of Egremont, was until 1999 the ‘In and Out’ club on one of London’s most famous thoroughfares, Piccadilly, overlooking St James’s Park and Buckingham Palace.

The club, which takes its unofficial name from the prominent entry and exit signs on the property’s street-facing boundary walls, was originally named the Naval and Military. In 1999 it moved to new premises at No.4 St James’s Square after failing to negotiate terms for a new lease at its now former address.

No. 94 Piccadilly was originally known as Cambridge House, a name that its current owners, publicity-shy billionaire property developer siblings David and Simon Reuben may wish to resurrect.

They bought the Grade I listed property and its neighbour, the American Club, for £130m in 2011 after they had stood unused for a decade while the previous owner tried unsuccessfully to get planning permission and funding to convert them into a hotel.

Instead, this week it was revealed that the Reuben brothers are to convert No.94 into a 48-bedroom mansion with a 35,000 bottle wine cellar, underground swimming pool and gym.

Until that work is completed and a £200 million price tag achieved Britain’s most expensive property is Park Place, a Berkshire mansion that Russian billionaire Andrey Borodin paid £140 million for in 2011 followed by an apartment at One Hyde Park in Knightsbridge sold – also in 2011- for £136 million.

See Zoopla’s list of London’s most expensive streets.

October 25, 2012 at 2:37 PM Leave a comment

Where Stella McCartney’s barely there

Moving into a new home before you’ve sold your old one is a luxury only the extremely wealthy can afford, and that includes fashion designer Stella McCartney.

The 41-year-old, who designed the Olympic kit for Team GB, has put her former home (see pictures below) in a fashionable back street of Notting Hill on the market for £2.5 million leaving its large, open plan rooms stripped of everything and, for a clothes designer, looking very bare.

Stella McCartney with her husband Alasdhair Willis.

One design feature that has surprised many is the second floor master bedroom, which is open plan across the whole footprint of the property and includes the bathroom – so Stella’s Victorian bath now stand a lonely vigil at one end of the room.

But as well as an unusual layout, the property offers membership of a fashionable club – the Notting Hill set.

Just around corner is is The Cow, an oysters and champagne pub run by Terence Conran’s culinary son Tom plus famous local residents include comedian Ruby Wax, model Elle McPherson, actress Sienna Miller and musician Damon Albarn. The Travel Bookshop, where Hugh Grant works in the 1999 film Notting Hill, is a ten minute walk from the property’s doorstep.

But such starry connections haven’t helped Stella sell. The property has been on the market since June and although there are rumours she’s just received an offer, it remains for sale.

Stella, who has moved permanently to her Georgian mansion in Worcestershire with husband Alasdhair and their four children, bought the property in 1997 for £695,000 so if she gets her asking price will trouser a £1.8 million profit on the sale.

October 11, 2012 at 11:57 AM Leave a comment

Exclusive: Pictures of Duffy’s flat before the fire

One of London’s most expensive penthouse apartments went up in smoke last night after a serious fire gutted the property, which earlier this year was up for sale at £8.75 million.

The apartment, which features a swimming pool, huge fish tank, private parking, four bedrooms, a cinema and two roof terraces, had been rented out to the ‘Rain on my parade’ singer Duffy while she records her new album in London. The Welsh warbler had, last night, been about to vacate the penthouse on the 10th floor of Abbot House off Kensington High Street when the blaze broke out.

Up in smoke: the gorgeous and celebrated interior of Duffy’s penthouse apartment before the blaze.

Duffy, along with around 20 other residents, had to evacuate the building late in the night as some sixty fire fighters tackled the blaze, which ripped through most of the penthouse before being doused in the early hours of the morning.

Two songs of Duffy’s point prophetically to the fire (well sort of) including ‘Smoke without fire’ and ‘Big flame’ but what many will lament are the penthouse’s now lost interiors, created by artist and architect Francis Machin who modelled many of London’s landmarks including Ransomes Dock on Battersea Embankment. His father, a designer, created the current Queen’s heads featured on UK postage stamps.

Lucky escape: singer Duffy had to flee her rented luxury apartment in Kensington, London as a fire ripped through the property.

While the blaze is a blow for design, luckily the apartment’s interiors were preserved within the property history section of Zoopla and after a bit of digging we found these. We can only hope they can be stored to such a wonderfully former glory (pictured above and below).

October 4, 2012 at 3:52 PM 2 comments

Yo! Is this the home of the future?

“For sale – an eighty sq m apartment with a drop-down master bedroom suite, wall mounted desk-cum-spare bed, sunken sitting room, pop-down cinema, dining room hidden in the floor, a kitchen-in-a-cupboard and a wine cellar in the floor. Must be seen to be believed.”

That’s how the latest launch by Yo! Sushi founder Simon Woodroffe (pictured, below) might be described on Zoopla in coming decades if the hotel and restaurant millionaire can get his tardis-like housing idea off the ground.

Launched last week at interiors show 100% Design in London, Woodroffe has drawn on Japan’s tradition of flexible living spaces  to create a two-bed 320 sq metre house within the footprint of a small one-bedroom flat using space saving technology taken from yachts, cars and stage scenery.

To prove his point an apartment featuring all of his ideas, which he’s called Yo! Home, was built at the show and seen by 100% Design’s 25,000 visitors.

So how does it work? The bedroom suite drops down to hide a sunken lounge (so beware leaving your cat or partner asleep on the sofa when turning in for the night), a dining suite which rises out of the floor, a kitchen within a cupboard and a spare bed that doubles as a desk.

But, while few ideas like this make it into bricks and mortar, Woodroffe has a track record of turning his brainwaves into multi-million pound businesses including his Yo! Shushi restaurants and Yotel chain – so perhaps that estate agent description isn’t so far off as we might think. No concrete plans, ahem, have been revealed for when the first Yo! Home properties will be available, but it’s likely to be apartments built within an existing development, rather than Woodroffe building a block of his own Yo! Homes.

The kitchen within the Yo! Home – now you see it…

…now you don’t as it disappears behind a wall of cupboards.

The Yo! Home featured at 100% Design included a wine cellar that pops up from the floor.

October 4, 2012 at 1:26 PM Leave a comment

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