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Breathing New Life Into Neglected Areas

Posted 2 June 2021 by Lizzie Leigh

London Square continues to bring dormant sites to life in and around the capital, explains director Jo McDonagh...

Jo McDonagh, sales and marketing director of London Square, tells us how buzzing Bermondsey is getting the London Square treatment.

Jo, tell us a bit about your role and day-to-day activities as sales and marketing director for London Square.

The main focus is creating and delivering a successful sales and marketing strategy and leading our sales teams across London Square’s amazing and diverse range of developments throughout Greater London. A typical day could start on site, meeting with our sales team, followed by a tour of potential sites with other directors and concluding with a pitch from an interior designer for a new show home. I am also responsible for building the profile of the distinctive London Square brand to provide real stand-out across our sites, our marketing and media campaigns, brand partnerships and events.

The company's name takes its inspiration from London's famous squares and the way they helped created a sense of community with residents; is this an important theme that runs through your new build schemes today?

London Square is totally committed to delivering exceptional homes and a sense of place where people really do want to live and feel a sense of belonging. Getting the right mix of retail, leisure and office operators in our developments is vital. By working with partners such as The Co-op to open a great local supermarket, as we have done at Staines, Bermondsey, and New King’s Road, and with M&S at Streatham, we have made a real difference to the existing local community as well as the residents who have bought homes in our developments. At Streatham, we have created a community theatre. At Bermondsey, Tannery Arts, a local charity, will be provided with studio and gallery space for emerging artists and their work with local schools and groups. Green spaces, with communal gardens and roof terraces, provide a really attractive green pocket at the heart of all our developments, reflecting the tradition of the great London squares.

London Square BermondseyLondon Square Bermondsey

London Square proclaims that it's dedicated to making London greater – how so?

We have a great reputation for tackling complex, dormant sites where others had failed, such as sites in Bermondsey, Streatham, Caledonian Road and Chigwell, building homes and community facilities to transform derelict and neglected areas in greater London.

Adam Lawrence, London Square’s chief executive, probably sums it up best. He says: “When I look at a map of the capital and the commuter belt of Hertfordshire, Surrey, Kent and Essex – there is now a little bit of London Square in most boroughs – and that makes me very proud.”

Can you tell us about the current schemes you're marketing?

London Square Bermondsey is our new £220million neighbourhood being created in the heart of buzzing SE1, close to the independent retailers, bars and galleries in Bermondsey Street, Borough Market and a 12-minute walk to London Bridge. This is a really interesting development on a former industrial site where Branston pickle was made for over 40 years. There is a mix of industrial heritage and contemporary buildings with one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments and duplexes all with private outside space, art studios and beautifully landscaped communal gardens and courtyards. Prices start from £640,000 for a one bedroom apartment. Duplexes are from £1.14million.

Coming soon will be London Square Greenwich, a collection of stylish apartments launching next month in the heart of the West Greenwich conservation area. More details on that will be released soon.

In complete contrast, London Square Tadworth Gardens is a new village community in commuter Surrey, close to the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, between Epsom and Reigate. We are marketing spacious family homes with private gardens and well designed apartments, set in 14 acres of grounds, backing on to woodland and close to good schools, excellent transport links and offering a wonderful quality of life. Two-bedroom apartments are available from £420,000, three-bedroom houses from £580,000 and four-bedroom homes from £640,000.

London Square Tadworth GardensLondon Square Tadworth Gardens

London Square Walton On Thames launched last month in the heart of the Elmbridge golden triangle. This is an Arts and Crafts’ inspired collection of beautiful three-, four- and five-bedroom family homes, plus a range of one and two bedroom apartments, set among mature trees and shrubs in the sought after Ashley Park neighbourhood. Demand has been huge and sales have been exceptional. We will be launching our show home in September. Prices start from £340,000 for a one bedroom apartment and houses from £1.050million.

Still in Surrey, we have just three one-bedroom apartments remaining at London Square Staines Upon Thames, our £120million development in the centre of town. The apartments have excellent specification and stylish interiors, each with a private balcony. The scheme has been immensely popular and is in a great location, within walking distance of the river, with lovely Thames path walks, the station is a four-minute walk, with a 35-minute commute to Waterloo, a good road networks to the M4 and M25 close by. With Windsor Great Park and Runnymede a short drive away, this is a great place to live. Prices from £369,950 for a one-bedroom apartment.

Will you be offering any particular incentives at these schemes?

At Staines, we are offering a great incentive – a 5% deposit boost and Stamp Duty paid for the final three apartments.

At Tadworth Gardens, we have a glorious Spring offer – a 5% deposit boost, plus the bonus of a garden landscape design package. There are four-bedroom family homes available and ready to move into in the current phase. The deposit boost means buyers will need to borrow less and can secure a more competitive mortgage rate. Buyers will also be offered the chance to create their own bespoke garden, with three styles on offer – the family garden with a play area, the cottage garden with pretty country-style planting and shrubs, or a more formal contemporary garden design, all by Harris Brothers Landscaping and worth around £5,000. There is also the opportunity to save up to £15,000 with the Stamp Duty holiday.

How have you witnessed the London market changing through the pandemic as buyers shift into more suburban or rural locations?

We saw a surge in demand for Tadworth Gardens last year, which has continued, from people looking to move out of the capital in search of a larger family home, with flexible interiors and space to work from home, a private garden and to be closer to the countryside. However, we are also seeing an increase in interest in Bermondsey as people are returning to their offices and want to be close to work and be back in London for all that the capital has to offer – great restaurants, culture and the feeling that you are in one of the best cities in the world.

London Square Staines Upon ThamesLondon Square Staines Upon Thames

Are any of your properties suitable for buy-to-let investments?

Our apartments in Staines make excellent rental properties as well as homes for owner-occupiers. Recent research showed that the town was the top performer for value and future growth in a survey of eight commuter towns west of London. There are major employers in the area. Heathrow Airport is an eight-minute drive away where there are many leading employers based. Royal Holloway, University of London, is in nearby Egham and provides a steady pipeline of students looking to rent.

Bermondsey is also attractive to investors, with young professionals looking to rent close to the City and West End, plus international students moving to the capital to study at one of the world-ranked universities such as the LSE, King’s London, UCL, and SOAS.

London Square takes on apprentices at some of its sites too, can you tell us how this experience has worked for the company?

There are excellent training opportunities with London Square and our contractors for apprentices from a variety of backgrounds, from school leavers, apprentices doing part-time degree courses and also mature apprentices, working across the entire range of building disciplines. We believe apprenticeships provide a vital source of future talent in an industry which offers fantastic career progression for ambitious and talented individuals.

Top of the list has been creating specific and stylish areas for working from home across all our developments, whether that is a separate room designed as a home office or a good use of space in a living area or bedroom. We use incredibly talented and visionary interior designers who lead on trends such as sustainable interiors, which was a focus in one of our Bermondsey show homes. Vintage is having a major impact on interiors, bringing colour, quirkiness and clever individuality.

And finally, what will be the main areas of focus for London Square over the next 12 months?

Last year marked 10 years since London Square was launched by CEO Adam Lawrence and the focus is now firmly on the next decade and the evolution of the company to offer homes across all tenures. Earlier this year, we launched Square Roots, to focus on shared ownership and affordable rent, with the first scheme in Lewisham now under way. We have an incredible pipeline of new developments to be launched across Greater London, providing much-needed new homes of all tenures for people who want to live and work in or close to our amazing capital.

Find out more about current London Square developments.


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