South West London residents living in the borough named the happiest place to live in London have branded it a “playground of the wealthy” as young families either have to live in a home the size of a “broom cupboard” or move out. Long-term locals are being priced out and independent shops struggling to break even.
Richmond ranked 11th in Rightmove’s Happy at Home Index 2022 – the only area in London to feature in the top 20 list of UK towns and cities. To live in a borough with such a title comes with a premium. Homes in Richmond sold on average price for £1,040,145 over the last year, according to Rightmove.
The majority of sales in Richmond during the last year were flats, selling for an average price of £547,221. Terraced properties sold for an average of £1,083,418, with semi-detached properties fetching £1,652,382. Overall, sold prices in Richmond over the last year were one per cent down on the previous year and five per cent up on the 2020 peak of £990,443.
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(Image: Charlotte Lillywhite)
But Guy Chance, 69, told the Local Democracy Reporting Service he moved to Acton to “get a better place” after living in Richmond for 10 years. He said Richmond is “great fun for youngsters, all the things they can do on the social side, it’s a buzzy place to live” but that “young families either live in a broom cupboard or move out”.
He said: “It’s ironic because I moved further in but Acton’s slightly cheaper than Richmond.”
Tony Khatchik has run children’s shop The Toy Station in Richmond for 27 years and said it’s “quietening down” for businesses as families spend more time at home working and shopping online, going out to eat and drink instead – with the number of restaurants “quadrupling” in the last three decades. He said families don’t have much cash to spend because mortgages and prices are so high.
Mr Khatchik said: “Average families are younger now than they used to be 20 years ago, however they have big mortgages because prices are very high and everything else is expensive so they don’t have as much disposable income.”
He said said central Richmond was always “a playground of the wealthy and the millionaires” but that this has spread to the outskirts now so homes “which were affordable… have tripled in price”.
He added: “Before, about 20 years ago, you could go to Ham and buy yourself an apartment or a house on a modest income but now all that is the playground of the wealthy. There’s a lot of foreign investment here, people come and buy a few properties now and rent them out… as well as companies who hire houses for their executives who come from abroad, they charge a lot because companies pay tax and all that stuff.”
Mr Khatchik said homes “never stay empty that long here” and estate agents “don’t even have to put the sign up” – but that a lot of young people, including his daughter, who is renting in Twickenham, can’t afford to buy a house in the borough to start a family.
He said: “People keep going out and out and out and different kinds of people come in so it’s niche but it’s not niche, it’s local but it’s not local – it’s not a normal local. Not many people can say: ‘I’ve lived in the area for three generations.’ They’re all gone.”
Margaret Wallace-Jones and Tony West, who run bookshop The Alligator’s Mouth, said businesses are struggling to break even. Ms Wallace-Jones said there’s a “good level of community engagement” in the area but that a “fight to save the high street” is ahead in the face of exorbitant business rates and rents.
The 54-year-old said: “We’re in a very odd transition where the chains are disappearing and what I’d like to think is what will replace the chains is businesses like ours – that’s going to require some help from various quarters.”
London 365 – Richmond
(Image: Charlotte Lillywhite)
MyLondon visited Richmond as part of our London365 project, where our reporters will be visiting a different part of our great city every day in 2023.
Ever wondered what it’s like to live in the part of London furthest from a Tube station? Or in the shadow of one of the world’s busiest airports? How is gentrification impacting some of London’s neighbourhoods hardest hit by the cost of living crisis?
From Brent to Bromley, Hillingdon to Havering, and everywhere in between, the MyLondon team will explore the biggest issues facing Londoners, while celebrating every part of the capital this year.
Where should we go next? Email [email protected]. To see all the other neighbourhoods we have visited in 2023, click here.
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