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Piazza Progress


Calling green fingered locals…

Having spearheaded the successful Chiswick Timeline under the arches near Turnham Green tube station, Abundance London has come up with another innovative idea to revitalise the area. After consulting local residents on their proposal to create a piazza style area at Chiswick Common corner, Abundance received an overwhelmingly positive response and preparation is now underway, with flower beds, bike racks and benches being installed in the coming months. The project is a collaboration between Friends of Chiswick Back Common and Abundance; funding has been secured to get things off the ground. The Chiswick Piazza project is now underway with the disused, unsightly double decker bike racks removed and attractive new Sheffield installed. The broken benches will be replaced with curved timber benches which will encourage locals to sit and take in views of both the Terrace and the common. Broken bins will be replaced and the pink granite fountain, originally installed in 1902, will be restored and returned to working order under the indomitable Councillor John Todd’s watchful eye. We can look forward to a glorious Abundance London flower bed full of perennials, annuals and bulbs which will be beautiful year round. The area will most likely be entirely unrecognisable! Karen Leibreich of Abundance says, 'We hope to try and reintroduce some beauty to the area; to reclaim it as a place for lingering, meeting, traversing, enjoying.'

Volunteers are needed to help care for the flower bed, under the guidance of the Abundance team, as the council cannot help with the bed’s maintenance. The planting will be low maintenance but weeding, trimming and general care is required. If you have green fingers or would simply like to keep the piazza looking its best, get in touch with Karen or click here to fill in a contact form. 

Julian Dobson, a research associate for improving well-being through urban nature at the University of Sheffield, wrote recently that urban green spaces — including parks, woodlands, riverbanks, and gardens — are ‘an essential part of a web of physical and mental well-being’. Dobson explains that they provide ‘spaces to socialise and opportunities to connect with the natural world, and are restorative enclaves in stressful cities’.

We look forward to enjoying spending time in the new piazza area!

Clowns to the left of us, jokers to the right…


The two most important questions to ask your estate agent

When you consider selling your home, you’ll begin the process of selecting your estate agent by checking their Google reviews and asking friends and neighbours for recommendations. You’ll pour over Rightmove and Zoopla. You’ll then make your shortlist and begin the interview process. You’ll have many questions but here are two you should always ask:

What percentage of the properties you listed in 2018 were reduced in price?

and

What was your average price reduction?

Chiswick sellers continue to be hammered with significant price reductions as a result of ill-advised overvaluing by our competitors. We valued a property this week which has been reduced by the seller’s current W4 agent by a staggering 25%. Chiswick Sales Director Paul Cooney notes, “We have access to invaluable statistics courtesy of Rightmove so we can see exactly what is happening with asking prices. In September, we sold a beautiful family home in a prime residential road just off of Chiswick High Road to a cash buyer after just three weeks of marketing. Another agent listed a similar house in the same street which has lingered on the market for 4 months and been reduced by over 17%. It is still for sale! Empirical research conducted by independent watchdog Which? categorically demonstrates the damaging effect the practice of overvaluing has on the final price achieved for your home. Poor advice on the price of your property can have a five or six figure impact on your bottom line.” Associate Director James Liggins adds, “The average high street agent in Chiswick reduced the asking prices of one in two properties they listed in 2018. The worst offender, who we won’t name, reduced the asking prices of 64% of their properties. Overvaluing has shambolic consequences for the seller: their homes end up selling for less than their true value.”

Paul advises, “When you are considering selling, always ask your agent about their record on price reductions. What percentage of their listings did they reduce in 2018 and by what an average of what percentage? In 2018 we reduced just over a quarter of the properties we listed by an average of just 6.8%. These small and sensible tweaks in price resulted in fresh interest and sales agreed; we’re incredibly proud of our record. Estate agency is full of dubious characters who will say just about anything to list your property only to hammer you for price reduction after price reduction until your home finally sells – for significantly less than its real value. For us, honesty, integrity and achieving the very best result for our clients are paramount. Overvaluing is a practice we will never employ here at Horton and Garton. The combination of keeping our clients’ requirements at the heart of each transaction with precision pricing means we’ve been able to achieve fantastic results across the board. For an experienced, professional and honest approach to your property, we’re at your service.”

“Paul is someone who I have and will continue to recommend to friends, something I rarely do. He is an extremely hard working individual and his passion for Chiswick property clearly comes through.” -Glebe Estate seller

“Paul did an amazing job helping me to sell my Chiswick flat in a tough market. He’s a fantastic agent!” -Bedford Park borders seller

“Paul is certainly the best agent in Chiswick and, very probably, in London. He offers a service that is both professional and personal and gets results. He’s streets ahead of the competition.” -Chiswick Park seller

L’Amorosa in Hammersmith retains coveted Michelin award


Behind a restrained King Street facade is a temple to fine Italian dining that has been recognised by the ultimate food authority for the third year on the trot.

L’Amorosa’s Bib Gourmand award (the ‘bib’ refers to Bibendum, the cuddly Michelin Man) means it is now the only restaurant in Hammersmith & Fulham so honoured, delighting chef Andy Needham, the jovial Yorkshireman who made the borough his home 12 years ago.

Unlike formal Michelin stars, Bibs reward well-cooked meals made with seasonal produce in more laid-back surroundings and, crucially, represent value for money. A three-course lunch is around £25... but you’d easily pay double that for comparable quality in other establishments.

Many dishes at L’Amorosa trace their heritage to the Michelin-starred Zafferano restaurant in SW1, where Andy made his name as head chef for 15 years. But he prefers cooking for Hammersmith than for Belgravia’s ‘gold-plated Bugatti’ brigade.

“Seriously, it’s ‘real’ here,” he said. “I love it here; I like the feel of the place. It’s homely. I got to the point in Belgravia that I needed a change. I live in Stamford Brook, and before that I was in Brackenbury Village; my kids are at the local schools.”

Andy said that it used to be possible to recognise award inspectors as they’d sit alone, and only drink water. Now it’s harder. They often turn up as couples and have a glass of wine!

Value for money is the key measure for qualifying for a Bib Gourmand. Meals must be under £28 for three courses, bringing the restaurant into the affordability bracket of a wider public.

L’Amorosa, midway between Ravenscourt Park and Stamford Brook tubes, was opened in a former coffee shop. “I look forward to the changing seasons,” said Andy. “As a neighbourhood restaurant, that’s important. It means that each time people come back there are [menu] changes.”

Salad days

Now 46, he began his culinary career as an apprentice chef at the Savoy, chopping veg with 110 other chefs, including the young Marcus Wareing.

His cookery education took him to Paris and St Tropez, where he learnt the discipline of French cuisine. But his real love was ‘seasonal, refreshing Italian food’. He learned the cookery and the languages and, at the Michelin-starred Zafferano, employed 25 Italian chefs under him. The regional style of Italian cooking fits well with England’s regions, he argues.

He’s completely at home in H&F. “I’ve lived here 12 years, and I love it. We see a fascinating mix of people. I know people from my children’s schools. You get to know people in a way that you didn’t in Belgravia,” he said.

With just 40 covers, there’s an intimacy to L’Amorosa, which is split over two levels. “It’s small enough for me to come out and meet people,” he said, adding that the Bib Gourmand award was a tribute to the tight team he has around him.

“It’s a team effort, and it’s about the whole package,” he said. “Food should be served with a smile and a conversation.”

All about the ingredients

Ingredients are, as every chef will tell you, key. Homemade pasta such as the canoe-shaped cavatelli go beautifully with a coating of rich tomato, meat and herb sauce in this little centre of excellence in W6, especially after a cured meat starter, drizzled with balsamic. And the panna cotta and honeycomb dessert merits an article on its own.

The Michelin inspectors describe it as “a warm, sunny Italian restaurant; one that we’d all like to have in our high street”, praising the produce quality.

L’Amorosa is located at 278 King Street. Call 020 8563 0300 or visit www.lamorosa.co.uk

We sold more homes in Hammersmith and Shepherds Bush than anyone else


It’s official. Our expert independent team sold more homes last year in W6 and W12 than any of our local competitors.

The figures – just released by Rightmove, the UK’s leading platform for home sales – show that 2018 was once again a stellar year for our Hammersmith-based firm.

“It’s clear that our clients still trust our honest advice amidst all the political and economic uncertainties in London,” said John Horton, founder of Horton and Garton.

“There are still tough times ahead – but if you want to buy a home or take the first steps to becoming a landlord, there’s still time to give us a call.”

Rightmove statistics

According to the Rightmove sales figures, Horton and Garton clearly outperformed its local competitors.

In the Hammersmith post code area W6 0 (which includes Brackenbury Village, Hammersmith Grove, Ravenscourt Park and Stamford Brook) our team sold more properties in 2018 than the second, third and fourth place agents combined!

Widen the map, and Horton and Garton again outperformed its competitors across all of Hammersmith – selling 33% more homes than their closest competitor.

Widen it even further, and Rightmove declares Horton and Garton the outright local champions by declaring us ‘the market leading agent for properties sold in W6 and W12 combined’.

See for yourself. Here are the just-released results from Rightmove:

RIGHTMOVE SALES REPORT / HAMMERSMITH POST CODE W6 0

RIGHTMOVE SALES REPORT /  HAMMERSMITH POST CODES W6 0 + W6 7 + W6 9

RIGHTMOVE SALES REPORT / W6 + W12 POST CODES

What’s the difference?

The main difference between Horton and Garton and its local competitors is their unrivalled knowledge of the area and their extensive training.

John insists that his staff live locally. And makes sure all his team are fully accredited with the NFOPP, NAEA and ARLA schemes.

“Ultimately, it’s the people that make an area,” John added. “And I hope residents think of us as the trusted local agent that’s an important part of the fabric of Hammersmith and Shepherds Bush. If we can continue to achieve that, I’m happy.”

HAPPY NEW YEAR one and all!


A New Year's message from John Horton 

HAPPY NEW YEAR one and all!

Welcome to 2019. And here's to another positive, prosperous and a happy New Year to one and all from the Horton and Garton team.

The office has re-opened after the holidays. And I will be updating my blog with a full market review of 2018 and my predictions and expectations for 2019 shortly. Watch this space...

Own a home in Shepherds Bush? Time to say thanks to Westfield


If you own a home in Shepherds Bush you better add the Westfield shopping mall to your Christmas card list. Sound crazy? 

It’s not. Because Westfield (now owned by the French company Unibai-Rodamco-Westfield) has ploughed more than £2.3billion into W12. That’s a staggering amount. And the big investment has helped kick-start a wave of development in the Wood Lane area which is now protecting the value of your home from the UK’s other economic stresses. Just call it the ‘John Lewis effect’.

Our area of west London has always been attractive to families and landlords alike. It’s got great parks, schools and Zone 2 transport links. But the combination of new homes, jobs and businesses in this new Wood Lane neighbourhood – in developments such as Imperial College and Television Centre – are proving hugely attractive.

Over the past decade, the mall has helped create more than 12,000 jobs to handle the incredible 80,000 shoppers who arrive each day. Thousands of new homes are also being built. It’s all made the case for Shepherds Bush as a destination. Even the local council agrees: “Westfield has brought jobs, genuinely affordable homes and economic vitality," says H&F’s leader, Stephen Cowan.

“More recently, it's become central to our industrial strategy which seeks to build H&F into a global leader in the bio-tech, digital and arts sectors, and bring the best possible start-up and career opportunities for all our residents.”

More than 260 million people have visited Westfield shopping centre since it opened in 2008, generating £9bn in sales. The original 43-acre Westfield site cost £1.7bn to build and consisted of 265 shops and 50 restaurants.

The shopping mall paid £7m towards improving the local infrastructure, including £3.9m of improvements to Shepherds Bush Overground station and 578 new cycle parking spaces. Its new £600m expansion houses the new £33m John Lewis flagship store.

So, when it comes to keeping H&F safe as houses, we should all be big fans of Westfield. If you’d like to know more about buying or renting in Shepherds Bush, drop by the office and one of the team would be happy to provide you with our expert advice.

Christmas at Westfield

Now that you’ve written your Christmas card to Westfield, hurry down to the shopping mall to take advantage of some of the seasonal fun before it’s too late.

Santa’s grotto is always a major draw for the little ones. This year, Westfield’s snowflake grotto will transport the whole family to snow factory in the North Pole. Children can create their own snowflake and meet Santa in his icy snow chamber.

Every child will receive a gift and have their photo taken with Santa. Visits last up to 25 minutes.

But it’s not all about Santa. Step inside the new ‘Four Realms’ experience to see the magic inspired by Disney’s current cinematic take on The Nutcracker. Designed by pranksters Bompas & Parr it is a clever nod to the Keira Knightley film.

The Land of Snowflakes has a tricky icy mirror maze; you can smell, taste and bounce through the beautiful Land of Flowers; make your way through the Land of Sweets – a candy funhouse full of sweet themed obstacles – before arriving at the fourth realm, a mysterious circus land where a magical Christmas secret is finally revealed.

The experience lasts up to 30 minutes. Runs until December 31. For times, tickets and details for both events, click here

Attention all landlords! Do you need a licence in H&F?


Landlords beware! The licensing rules for your property may have changed – again.

The Government scrapped its ‘three-story’ rule for HMOs on October 1. Meaning that all properties with more than four people forming more than two households will now require a licence.

Example

If you have five students living together on a joint tenancy you will require a licence.

Previously, this applied only to properties of three stories or more. But now all property types are affected. And there’s even a minimum space requirement for bedrooms.

 

This change means that flats, maisonettes and two storey properties may require a licence. But flats situated in purpose-built blocks consisting of three or more flats will not require a licence.

“We welcome the upgrading of HMO standards but would caution that the introduction of minimum room sizing in particular, risks reducing capacity with potential knock-on effects on rent rises, as business plans are impacted,” said the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.

If you are in doubt and would like an informal chat, call or pop into see one of the Horton and Garton team in our King Street branch. We can advise on any of the key issues affecting landlords, including licensing.

Changes

Local landlords have weathered two major changes in as many years.

Last year, Hammersmith & Fulham Council introduced selective licensing for landlords to improve conditions for renters and create a level playing field for landlords.

This affects all landlords in certain areas of the borough. Even if you are letting a property that does not meet the criteria for mandatory or additional licensing. If it’s in the designated selective licensing area you will need a licence.

The council says the scheme is aimed at tackling rogue landlords. So far, more than 3,000 properties in Hammersmith & Fulham have applied for licences.

You can find more guidance from the government here or you can discuss your situation with the Licensing department at Hammersmith & Fulham Council – click here.

Or if you are a landlord wanting more information, just call or pop into see one of the Horton and Garton team in our King Street branch. We can advise on any of the key issues affecting landlords, including licensing.

We’re your best choice in Brackenbury Village, Ravenscourt Park and Stamford Brook


In the past 12 months we've agreed more sales - 31 in total - in the W6 0 postcode than our nearest three competitors combined.

It's official. This postcode area of Hammersmith - which covers Brackenbury Village, Ravenscourt Park and Stamford Brook - has always been our 'purple patch' during our 10 strong years in King Street.

Our track record as the market leading agent in this leafy part of Hammersmith is unrivalled and envied by our competitors. And when working with the very best properties and clients in Hammersmith we are achieving best price and best terms for our vendors.

But don't take our word for it - read our reviews and see the testimonials.

If you're planning a move next year or you're considering selling or renting, do contact the local property experts, Horton and Garton. We can offer you an experienced opinion, an accurate appraisal and a strategic marketing plan to best achieve the price you want and get you moving.

Over 55? Join us for a big Christmas lunch

If you're over 55 and you're not having lunch with anyone on Christmas Day, please come join us at the H&F Big Christmas Day Lunch.

H&F Council throws the Christmas lunch party at the town hall for residents every year. This year we are expecting up to 350 guests. And it’s always a lot of fun – the dancing and sing-a-long are not to be missed!

On top of a hearty Christmas lunch, guests can enjoy a visit from Father Christmas, a goody bag and live entertainment. Door-to-door transport, qualified carers and a team of volunteers ensure all guests are well looked after.

One step closer to a new cinema in King Street


Finally, a new stunning new cinema emerges from the ruins of the old Cineworld in King Street. And yes, Hammersmith has a rich cinematic history... 

Here's your chance to see what the new cinema in King Street will look like.

On Friday and Saturday (December 7-8), Hammersmith & Fulham Council will hold their fourth and final public exhibition of the revised plans to 'breathe new life into the western end of King Street'. Which thankfully includes the demolition of the ugly town hall extension which looms over the road.

Plans also include a new four-screen cinema in King Street next to Hammersmith Town Hall. You can see images of the plans here.

The scheme also includes:

  • 204 new homes of which 52 per cent will be classified as genuinely affordable for local residents
  • A new public rooftop bar and restaurant
  • New community art and event spaces
  • New affordable, flexible office spaces for start-up businesses
  • New corporate offices for an established business that will bring revenue and hundreds of new employees who’ll be customers for our local shops, eating and drinking establishments
  • New public space in front of the restored Town Hall for performances and events
  • New homework spaces for children and students
  • Inclusively designed buildings to ensure full access for Disabled people
  • Eco-friendly buildings to minimise our carbon footprint and cut fuel bills.

But no word on the screening of adult films - read more below...

From the archives: Broadway Cinema in Queen Caroline Street

A show brought the house down - literally - when the ceiling of the Broadway ABC Cinema collapsed during a Monday matinee performance on 12 September 1977. The scattering of 60 people in the audience were showered with plaster, dust and dirt, and one elderly cinema-goer was detained in hospital when a large chunk of rubble landed on his head. Ironically, one of the films on the afternoon programme was the X-rated Hardcore!

It was a sad end to a cinema that was described at its opening as 'the most elegant picture theatre in suburban London' with salons decorated in cream and gold and plush rose-coloured upholstery. It was designed by Frank Matcham, the well-known architect responsible for some of the finest places of entertainment at the turn of the twentieth century. The Granville Theatre, Fulham, the Lyric Hammersmith, and the Shepherds Bush Empire were (or still are) examples of his work in the borough.

For weeks before its opening on 22 December 1913 the local newspapers had advertised the attractions of 'London’s newest and most luxurious cinema theatre'. As well as the usual black and white films the Broadway Cinema boasted an exclusive local monopoly on the new and costly 'Kinemacolor', showing colour films that changed twice weekly. The first colour offering, appropriate for the season, was a film of Santa Claus.

The grand opening ceremony was preceded by a luncheon in the Clarendon Hotel in Hammersmith Broadway, attended by local councillors and worthies. After a splendid repast, followed by lengthy speeches and numerous toasts, the official party adjourned to the cinema for the opening ceremony. Hundreds of invitations had been sent out in a partly successful attempt to fill the 1,300 plus seats for the special invitation screening.

The cinema attracted audiences tempted by the initial low price of 3d for the same quality of seats as those costing one shilling and continuous performances from 1.30pm to 11pm. There was a full orchestra and the venue proved popular. A near riot was only just averted in 1915 when two Germans who were among the crowded audience watching a newsreel of the sinking of the liner Lusitania unwisely made derogatory remarks.

In its later years, the Broadway Cinema gained a racy reputation for its promotion of adult films. However, the building was showing its age and could not compete with the new multi-screen venues. It never reopened after the ceiling collapse and was demolished in 1978 along with other properties on the west side of Queen Caroline Street for the widening of Blacks and Hammersmith Bridge roads. A modern glass office block and the Irish Centre now occupy the site of what was once 'the oldest and naughtiest cinema in Hammersmith'.

The big Christmas day lunch at Hammersmith Town Hall needs you


John Horton explains why he’s once again supporting the Christmas lunch at Hammersmith Town Hall for older residents – and how you can help

Christmas is a lousy time to be alone. Which is why I have volunteered and helped out the good folks at Hammersmith & Fulham Council to throw a big Christmas lunch party for older residents in the borough.

Residents aged over 55 who aren’t having lunch with anyone on Christmas Day are invited to join us at the H&F Big Christmas Day Lunch at the town hall.

H&F Council throws the Christmas Day lunch party for residents every year. This year we are expecting up to 350 guests. And it’s always a lot of fun – the dancing and sing-a-long are not to be missed.

And on top of a hearty Christmas lunch, guests enjoy a visit from Father Christmas, a goody bag and live entertainment. Door-to-door transport, qualified carers and a team of volunteers ensure all guests are well looked after.

Donations and volunteers

Can you help with either a donation or to volunteer on the day?

So far, the council has raised more than £13,000. But to make the day a success it needs more like £33,000. To make a donation, visit the Spacehive page.

Or if you’d prefer to be part of our team of volunteers on the day helping to give guests a great time, please contact the Christmas Team at H&F Volunteers Centre by calling 020 8741 9876 or by emailing enquiries@hfvc.org.uk.

Come as a guest

If you’re interested attending the Big Christmas Day Lunch on 25 December, or know anyone who might be, you can apply online – just click here.

Or, you can download and fill in a Christmas day lunch guest application form and email it as an attachment to events@lbhf.gov.uk, or post it to H&F Events Team, The Annex, 37 Pembroke Road, London W8 6PW.

The deadline is Monday 5 December.

Please look out for your older neighbours. And if you think someone will spend Christmas day alone, please encourage them to come join us at the Town Hall.