Richmond ranked in Rightmove’s Happy at Home Index this year
West London residents say their borough is a “playground of the wealthy” after it was recently named one of the happiest places to live in the UK.
It has long-term locals priced out, young families living in “broom cupboards” and independent shops struggling to break even.
Richmond ranked 11th in Rightmove’s Happy at Home Index this year – the only area in London to feature in the top 20 list of UK towns and cities.
The average price of a home in Richmond was £1.03 million in the past year, according to Rightmove – a 16 per cent increase on the 2019 peak of £893,864.
But Guy Chance, 69, told the Local Democracy Reporting Service he moved to Acton to “get a better place” after living in Richmond for 10 years.
He said Richmond is “great fun for youngsters, all the things they can do on the social side, it’s a buzzy place to live” but that “young families either live in a broom cupboard or move out”.
He said: “It’s ironic because I moved further in but Acton’s slightly cheaper than Richmond.”
Tony Khatchik has run children’s shop The Toy Station in Richmond for 27 years and said it’s “quietening down” for businesses as families spend more time at home working and shopping online, going out to eat and drink instead – with the number of restaurants “quadrupling” in the last three decades.
He said families don’t have much cash to spend because mortgages and prices are so high.
Mr Khatchik said: “Average families are younger now than they used to be 20 years ago, however they have big mortgages because prices are very high and everything else is expensive so they don’t have as much disposable income.”
He said said central Richmond was always “a playground of the wealthy and the millionaires” but that this has spread to the outskirts now so homes “which were affordable… have tripled in price”.
He added: “Before, about 20 years ago, you could go to Ham and buy yourself an apartment or a house on a modest income but now all that is the playground of the wealthy.
“There’s a lot of foreign investment here, people come and buy a few properties now and rent them out… as well as companies who hire houses for their executives who come from abroad, they charge a lot because companies pay tax and all that stuff.”
Mr Khatchik said homes “never stay empty that long here” and estate agents “don’t even have to put the sign up” – but that a lot of young people, including his daughter, who is renting in Twickenham, can’t afford to buy a house in the borough to start a family.
He said: “People keep going out and out and out and different kinds of people come in so it’s niche but it’s not niche, it’s local but it’s not local – it’s not a normal local.
“Not many people can say: ‘I’ve lived in the area for three generations.’ They’re all gone.”
Margaret Wallace-Jones and Tony West, who run bookshop The Alligator’s Mouth, said businesses are struggling to break even.
Ms Wallace-Jones said there’s a “good level of community engagement” in the area but that a “fight to save the high street” is ahead in the face of exorbitant business rates and rents.
The 54-year-old said: “We’re in a very odd transition where the chains are disappearing and what I’d like to think is what will replace the chains is businesses like ours – that’s going to require some help from various quarters.”