Thursday 18 August 2016

The Chelmsford Love Affair with its 11,300 Terraced Houses

Call me old fashioned, but I do like the terraced house.  In fact, I have done some research that I hope you will find of interest my Chelmsford property market blog reading friends!

In architecture terms, a terraced or townhouse is a style of housing in use since the late 1600’s in the UK, where a row of symmetrical / identical houses share their side walls. The first terraced houses were actually built by a French man, Monsieur Barbon around St. Paul’s Cathedral within the rebuilding process after the Great Fire of London in 1666.  Interestingly, it was the French that invented the terraced house around 1610-15 in the Le Marais district of Paris with its planned squares and properties with identical facades. However, it was the 1730’s in the UK, that the terraced/townhouse came into its own in London and of course in Bath with the impressive Royal Crescent.

However, we are in Chelmsford, not Bath, so the majority of our Chelmsford terraced houses were built in the Victorian era.  Built on the back of the Industrial Revolution, with people flooding into the towns and cities for work in Victorian times, the terraced house offered decent livable accommodation away from the slums. An interesting fact is that the majority of Victorian Chelmsford terraced houses are based on standard design of a ‘posh’ front room, a back room (where the family lived day to day) and scullery off that.  Off the scullery, a door to a rear yard, whilst upstairs, three bedrooms (the third straight off the second).  Interestingly, the law was changed in 1875 with the Public Health Act and each house had to have 108ft of livable space per main room, running water, it’s own outside toilet and rear access to allow the toilet waste to be collected (they didn’t have public sewers in those days in Chelmsford – well not at least where these ‘workers’ terraced houses were built).

It was the 1960’s and 70’s where inside toilets and bathrooms were installed (often in that third bedroom or an extension off the scullery) and gas central heating in the 1980’s and replacement Upvc double glazing ever since.

Looking at the make up of all the properties in Chelmsford, some very interesting numbers appear.  Of the 47,237 properties in Chelmsford …

9,905 are Detached properties (20.9%)
15,616 are Semi Detached properties (33.0%)
11,338 are Terraced / Town House properties (24.0%)
10,354 are Apartment/ Flat’s (21.9%)

And quite noteworthy, there are 24 mobile homes, representing 0.05% of all property in Chelmsford.  

When it comes to values, the average price paid for a Chelmsford terraced house in 1995 was £53,894 and the latest set of figures released by the land Registry states that today that figure stands at £286,937, a rise of 432% - not bad when you consider detached properties in Chelmsford in the same time frame have only risen by 383%.

But then a lot of buy to let landlords and first time buyers I speak to think the Victorian terraced house is expensive to maintain.  I recently read a report from English Heritage that stated maintaining a typical Victorian terraced house over thirty years is around sixty percent cheaper than building and maintaining a modern house- which is quite fascinating don’t you think!

Don’t dismiss the humble terraced house – especially in Chelmsford!  For more thoughts on the Chelmsford Property Market – visit the Chelmsford Property Market Blog

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