Parkleys, Ham, Richmond-upon-Thames
Grade II listed Span development
Architect: Eric Lyons
Year built: 1954-1955
If Ham wasn’t so ridiculously inaccessible, I would seriously consider trading in my current place for a flat on this estate.
Built in the mid-1950s and Grade-listed in 1998, the Parkleys estate consists of around ten flat-roofed blocks in either a three-storey H-plan configuration with a central entrance stairwell or a two-storey terraced configuration, enclosing shared courtyards. The flats have large timber windows which span the length of the flats continuously (and which mercifully cannot be ripped out and replaced with uPVC due to the Grade listing) and distinctive concrete tile-hanging. The estate is lushly planted with retro-looking foliage and despite the styling being very much of its time, the quality of the design means it holds up today as a fine example of preserved modernist architecture rather than just looking a bit sad and dated.
There were two flats I viewed, one of which had a lot of potential whilst the other was almost comically awful.
The good one was a generously-sized 2-bed on the top floor of Tennyson Court, one of the first blocks built on the estate overlooking Ham Common but sadly missing that beautiful central entrance stairwell configuration present in the rest of the blocks. The flat itself was nicely laid out with a large living room and adjoining dining area, separable by concertina doors. Most of the original features were present and correct with the notable exception of the kitchen and bathroom, which looked like they had been replaced in the 1970s. I found out, however, that having an original kitchen is actually a bit of a poisoned chalice: as you’re not allowed to replace them due to the Grade listing, this makes the flat more difficult to sell and consequently reduces the value as the 1950s styling isn’t to everybody’s taste.
The bad one was a ground floor 2-bed (without the dining room) in Coleridge Court. Whilst I preferred the actual block to Tennyson Court, mainly due to the fact that it had that central stairwell configuration I favour, the flat itself was dreadful. It was in terrible condition, had no original features to speak of and seemed to let in precisely no natural light. The main selling point, doors off the living room into a dilapidated patch of garden, was a complete damp squib. To add insult to injury, the vendor had quoted a laughably optimistic price.
Despite the profoundly depressing second flat, I haven’t been put off this estate – I just need to acquire a car and a job within commutable distance of Ham. I would also need to raise some additional funds: like everywhere else, prices for flats on this estate have shot up in the last year or so – I can remember a time when a decent two bed was about £300k. We’re talking about prices around the £400k mark now.