News Shopper’s former offices are undergoing a dramatic transformation and will soon provide homes for first-time buyers in Petts Wood.
This newspaper’s old HQ at Mega House in Crest View Drive is in the process of becoming 29 bright, airy and modern one and two-bedroom apartments as well as offices on the top floor.
Developer Langford Walker has owned the building since 2005 and when News Shopper left in 2016, it made perfect sense to turn into much-needed homes.
Langford Walker’s chairman Bruce Walker said: “It was a fabulous building to look to convert into flats. Normally you are looking for light to brighten up a room and here every room that faces the car park or the rear has great natural light.”
Renamed Grosvenor House, it launches on June 24 and 25. Already more than 100 people have registered their interest and 50 appointments have been made for the first day of viewing.
And those numbers were just off the back of a board out front which read ‘coming soon’.
The properties are being sold by Acorn New Homes, incorporating Langford Russell. The Acorn Group’s managing director Neil Louth said: “Because it is known so well, everybody has been watching the different phases of it taking place.
“From an agent’s point of view and for me personally – I have lived in the area for over 35 years, I have known the building and been very familiar with it - it is quite a nice idea it is ending up as homes for people locally.”
Having worked in the building for a number of years, I’ll admit it was emotional to see the place again.
It was at once familiar but very, very different. Even from the outside it looks refreshed and impressive.
Mr Walker said: “The building I believe was built in the late 1960s, early 1970s and it had deteriorated over the passage of time. Quite honestly, towards the latter part of its former life it looked a little bit tired.”
He added: “It has been given a superb facelift. It looks like a new building but in actual fact it is the conversion of a former office building.
“All of the windows have had to be replaced because the others were past their natural life so we have been able to incorporate all of the insulation you would expect to have in a new modern building.”
Inside – as outside – work is continuing apace to get the homes ready to move into in the autumn. A gorgeous show flat is already finished where News Shopper’s old conference room used to be, complete with a walk-in wardrobe and high-quality fittings.
Mr Walker said: “We have built a number of schemes in the London borough of Bromley, as well as many other areas, and our focus is very much on quality – quality doors, quality fittings, quality bathroom fittings.
“What we want to do is create a property where people don’t have to go in and ask for extras.
“For example, in the bathroom there is a huge mirror in every apartment already fitted. The kitchen, included in the specification is a dishwasher, fridge-freezer, washing machine.
“Really these are apartments are ready to move into.
“The quality and specification is very important to us.”
The one-bedroom apartments start from £295,000 and the two-bedrooms from £360,000.
Mr Louth said: “The buyer profile had been very much local people – lots of first-time buyers, the majority of owner-occupiers.
“We have also seen bank of mum and dad looking to buy for their children. It is quite interesting, a lot of people in Bromley borough like to keep their kids in the area. We have seen more and more of that take place.
“With it being News Shopper’s former headquarters - such an iconic building – everyone knows it. It has certainly had a lot of interest.”
It is not hard to see why the properties are so attractive to buyers. The development is gated with allocated parking for residents and well as for the top-floor offices – which come with a breath-taking view, it should be said – around the back.
It is a five-minute walk to Petts Wood station - with London Bridge 23 minutes away – a short drive to the M25 and close to scores of great shops and restaurants.
Mr Louth said: “You have got great places to eat round here, great service into London Bridge within 23 minutes, you have got a very nice apartment so your live/work life is ideal. I think that is what it is creating more than anything else.”
Grosvenor House is the first development of its kind in Petts Wood and the homes are close to existing houses – and the homeowners have welcomed the transformation and are looking forward to welcoming new neighbours.
Mark Fisher-Wight, who lives in Crest View Drive, said: “I’m very pleased. Certainly from the beginning I worked with the team in terms of ‘we’re going to be overlooked’ and all the disruption. But it has been kept at a minimum and I think in the early days they changed the plans slightly so we weren’t overlooked. It was all very amicable.
“It was offices before so there were people here anyway but Petts Wood is such a great place, I think it will be good to get new people in. It will be good for the local community and the shops.”
Viewing is strictly by appointment. Call 020 8315 6996 or go to acornnewhomes.co.uk