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Step to riches? Disused stairwell in London could be yours for just £20,000 | Housing

If climbing the property ladder seems stressful to you, why not consider taking the stairs?

A disused four-storey stairwell at the back of a branch of Starbucks in south-west London has become the latest peculiar piece of property to go on sale in London’s feverish housing market.

Yours for £20,000 or thereabouts, the oddity will go under auction on Tuesday – with agents suggesting its appeals include a long leasehold, full vacant possession and “development potential”.

Quite what form that potential takes requires some imagination. The online video tour shows the space littered with cardboard boxes, a bicycle, a tired potted plant and a number of fire extinguishers.

The jaunty soundtrack – more usually heard layered over promotional clips for sleek apartments or cosy cottages – attempts to draw the viewer’s attention from the broken windows. But, as an optimistic estate agent may say, it is flooded with natural light and, being a minute’s walk from the Thames in the centre of Twickenham, its location has undeniable appeal.

Those viewing the listing online have suggested turning it into a workspace or a vertical farm. Photograph: Barnard Marcus

It has, as property agents say, “hope value”.

There is no shortage of demand for flats in the area, which sell for more than £400,000 – but how the stairwell could be adapted would require ingenuity and, most importantly, planning permission.

Office pods for workers desperate to escape working from home or a vertical farm are among ideas suggested by some who have viewed the particulars.

It is understood the stairwell is no longer connected to the block of flats that it used to serve and realistically anyone bidding would be doing so in the hope they could get permission to build something, or at the very least extensively adapt the existing structure on the small footprint available.

The auction is the latest in a line of head-scratching property offers in the capital – where the average property value has increased 63% in the last decade from £322,000 to £525,000, according to official data.

Flats being shown on the rental market increasingly have beds erected on platforms above living areas combined with kitchens and built-in storage more familiar to the layout of camper vans.

A windowless room in a warehouse was put on the market in east London for £600 a month in May. A studio in Chiswick with a shower in the kitchen was on offer for £999 in January, while in the same month a £1,500 a month studio in Notting Hill had a toilet and kitchen sink less than a metre apart.

The staircase “opportunity” comes amid UK government plans to make it easier to convert shops and offices into homes in order to address the housing crisis.

Earlier this month, Michael Gove, the secretary of state for levelling up, housing and communities, said rules will be drawn up to give greater freedoms to carry out property extensions and to open up lofts.

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2023/jul/30/step-to-riches-disused-stairwell-in-london-could-be-yours-for-just-20000 Step to riches? Disused stairwell in London could be yours for just £20,000 | Housing

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