In comparison to other London properties, Mews have a number of advantages and disadvantages.
instantly recognisable, the unique nature of Mews properties in Britain make them special places in which to live or work.
as a consequence of being developed as ancillary accommodation to the homes of the upper classes, Mews are located in the prime areas of London.
a feature of having evolved from stabling is their ability to accommodate a motor car; whether this is required or not it is fairly unique across central London to have a private parking space outside or possibly inside your property.
the majority of Mews are in conservation areas which demand special considerations in terms of their design and heritage. Planning approval requires their appearance to conform to local planning requirements and not to distract from the conservation area. This results in uniformity of appearance and given the similarity of the individual basic structures leads to a homogeneous and attractive environment. Generally speaking this is a positive advantage although not everyone enjoys seeing drains and pipes on the front of their building.
as they were built ‘out of sight and out of mind’ of the main houses which lined the main thoroughfares, Mews inherently have the natural advantage of security and privacy from passersby.
most are owned freehold, although other forms of tenure are available. Mews therefore provide the opportunity to own a central London property in perpetuity without the encumbrance of having to obtain approval from a landlord for major changes.
as small simple structures owned on a freehold basis the scope for development is greater than for flats, apartments and other centrally located properties that cannot offer the same potential. As a result Mews have an ever-changing nature that encompasses change from animal shelters to modern architectural gems.
their small size can be advantageous as it encourages good use of space and is easy to maintain, particularly if the primary function is as a pied a tere. The long stair flights in original Mews properties have often been inventively installed and double back on themselves or curl around in spiral configurations.
the enclosed space within certain Mews closes, lanes and cul de sacs encourages observance of others and hence engenders a sense of security and community.
some Mews are provided with Pubs that give the more sociable residents an opportunity for neighbourly relations to develop and be maintained. They also allow the less sociable ones to avoid the need to stagger home heavily laden from the off licence.
Mews are the original live/work units so are ideal for anyone craving that lifestyle.
where else would you keep your horse in central London?
Demand and supply
Deep and dark
Poorly lit and ventilated
Original layouts are cramped and not ideal for modern lifestyles
Lack of external space
as demand always seems to exceed supply the prices reached are prohibitive for many.
Mews generally tend to be lower in height than the main houses (by between 2 to 4 metres) and can be overshadowed by them. Any dinginess effect can, however, be transformed by good architectural design.
Many Mews are narrow which makes them poorly lit and ventilated. They rarely have side windows or doors and generally have no rear windows or doors thus making them dependent on light and air from the front and/or above.
the garage will probably be too narrow for modern cars; the front entrance will probably open directly into the living room; there may be no ground floor cloakroom or coat cupboard; the living room may be too small and not properly proportioned; there may be inadequate natural light and ventilation; the kitchen will be remote from the dining room and the bedrooms may be too small and have no en-suite bathroom accommodation.
few Mews have private external areas other than at roof level.
Mews are often overlooked both from the front and from the rear. The main houses which they served can look down on them, and any Mews opposite tends to be built on the same level and contains windows directly opposite. Hence the mews' interior can be fully on show and seem to lack in privacy.
neighbourly activity can blight a property for a long period of time. As there is little in the way of external space around a Mews any development work will cover the entire site with material storage and use it for working space. Sharing your Mews for 12-24 months with a basement contractor is not to everyone’s pleasing.
Mews tend to echo as the buildings have flush elevations that are relatively close to one another, so the moving of a car by neighbours at an unsociable hour, or children shrieking, can be upsetting to some residents.
the majority of Mews are in conservation areas, some are listed and many are on an Estate. There will therefore be many regulations to comply with in the event of any desire to extend or alter your property (or repair a listed one). And don’t assume that years of living with a blue façade will entitle you to change to green one without the need to involve others.
the Mews seem to suffer more than their fair share of drainage issues. Not only do the surfaces tend to be impermeable which leads to run off problems, but there is also a compounding of the problem as the drains from the larger properties behind may still run through the Mews and into a sewer running under the mews. All in all this can overburden the predominantly Victorian drains.
We will consider these and other Mews issues in the BLOGS section of this website which will follow. However if you have any specific projects needing surveying or party wall advise please contact our sister company.