The British police drama The Blue Lamp was filmed there in 1950, and the comedian Russell Brand whiled away the hours there one May evening in 2001 after he was arrested for stripping naked in front of the statue of Anteros in Piccadilly Circus.
Now you can buy a home in the grade II llisted former police station in west London for a little under £1 million. There’s just one thing to bear in mind – your bedroom could be an old cell.
On Harrow Road, between Westbourne Park and Maida Vale, Westbourne Place is a development of 49 flats spread across three buildings: 25 in Westbourne House, which includes the offices and storerooms of the old police station; three in Dixon Mews, which housed the cells; and 24 in Butler House, a new-build block behind the main station.
Some of the conversations, by the architect Harper Downie, are more orthodox than others. The police station office and waiting room at the front of the building have been turned into a light-filled apartment with a bay window and high Edwardian-era ceilings. An apartment next door contains an internal terrace, a living wall and a study.
However, the cell-block conversions in Dixon Mews, where people would be held while their cases were being processed, are far more unusual. A look around the construction site gives an indication of the scale of the task needed to convert the oppressive building into luxury homes. The design includes the original, spiked cell windows, which are listed, as well as additional windows for light and ventilation. Kitchens and diners are being carved out of alcoves.
The block, due to be finished in the autumn, will house three duplex apartments. A one-bedroom apartment has already sold off-plan. A two-bedroom apartment of 814 sq ft, valued at £750,000, and a three-bedroom apartment of 1,265 sq ft at £965,000, are for sale. The three-bedroom flat has two bathrooms and the original winding staircase.
“Working within the constraints of converting a grade II listed building, Redrow has transformed the original cell block into three duplex apartments, each property combining contemporary style with character,” say Simon Halfhide, the sales director at Redrow.
“We have blended high-quality fixtures and fittings with many of the original features, including high ceilings and the original cell windows, which are complemented by floor to ceiling windows to maximise the light.”
The station’s old parade ground will become communal green spaces and the high walls of the compound work well to exclude most traffic noise.
The luxury conversion is indicative of the change taking place in and around Harrow Road, which once had the reputation of being one of west London’s grittiest areas. Today Westbourne Park and Maida Vale are among the capital’s more trendy and desirable suburbs. Situated in Zone 2, Westbourne Place is within easy walking distance of the Grand Union Canal and Little Venice, and if you’re feeling energetic, Portobello Road in Notting Hill.
The average house price in Maida Vale is £850,681 according to Rightmove, while Foxtons has the average Westbourne Park property at £814,809.
Westbourne Place, where ten apartments are still available, is one of a growing number of police stations, force accommodation and training centres throughout the country that have been decommissioned to be converted into flats and houses.
Other notable examples include the Old Police Station in Harrogate, North Yorkshire, also a grade II listed property built in 1927, which was vacated by the police in 2012. The building, constructed in the Queen Anne revival style, is being converted into houses and apartments priced between £425,000 and £725,000.
Another development by Barrett London, called Soho 13, is a collection of 13 boutique flats converted from a former Metropolitan Police hostel for unmarried officers. They’re on the market from £3.75 million for a three-bedroom flat.
In Hampshire, the developer City & Country has applied for planning permission to convert Bramshill, one of Britain’s most significant Jacobean prodigy houses, which was built in the early 17th century and used as a police training college from the 1960s, but vacated in 2015.
In Colindale, northwest London, the training headquarters of the Metropolitan Police since the 1930s is being split up. About 49 acres were sold to Redrow last year to convert into homes and community facilities, while the police are retaining 19 acres to build a new facility.