HAS YOUR ‘LOCAL’ GOT POTENTIAL?

Has your local got the potential of making you a small fortune …………………… if you think it might read on………………………………

Wedged between two bureaux de change opposite Kensington Gardens near Hyde Park, London’s 18th century Black Lion pub is a magnet for tourists.

A pair of Germans enjoy fish and chips while an American family sit at another table. Office workers trickle in to catch the end of the Argentina versus Nigeria match in the World Cup.

But not for much longer. The Black Lion last week became the second-most expensive pub in Britain, sold for £27m with a view to turning it into luxury flats.

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London’s booming property market has left pub groups with a dilemma. Pubs in London are trading well – but property prices are doing even better, leading developers to target pubs for redevelopment as residences.

Pubs in the capital increased sales by about 5 per cent on a like-for-like basis last year – about twice as fast as pubs outside the M25, according to industry tracker Coffer Peach.

By comparison, house prices in London rose 18.7 per cent in the past year, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics – the fastest growth since mid-2007.

Price indices have presented wildly contrasting pictures of the health of the housing market – according to some the boom is back, while to others the slump staggers on

Not all pubs are in prime London sites, but many can easily be converted into expensive homes, says Graeme Bunn, a director at property surveyors Fleurets.

“These are attractive buildings in dense residential areas, solidly well-built properties often with a car park,” says Mr Bunn.

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Pubs have already received some protection from conversion under national planning rules. Prospective developers must now demonstrate that a pub is not a financially viable business.

“Planning laws have made it harder for residential developers to acquire sites and convert them and this is protecting certain pubs that in the past would have been vulnerable,” says Clive Watson, chief executive of City Pub Company, which owns 17 pubs across the south east.

Some developers have opted for a compromise: leaving the pub on the ground floor, while developing acoustically insulated flats above to keep planners happy.

The Cross Keys, a pub in Chelsea once frequented by Bob Marley and the Rolling Stones, was bought by developers after planners squashed plans to redevelop it as an entire house.

“Frankly, the best use of the ground floor is a pub,” says Roger Smith, director of Parsons Green Land, which bought the Cross Keys freehold for nearly £4m and intends to turn the upstairs into flats while keeping the pub open.

A partial residential conversion would be a return to the Cross Keys’ roots, says Mr Smith. “Its history is one of residential upper parts and a pub on the ground floor.”

So if you are a property developer or looking for a project then look around near you for an empty pub and if you need a Surveyor call Taylor Wilkinson Surveyors on 0845 463 8979

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