Far East Orchard launches repurposed Westminster Fire Station in Central London for sale

By Hailey Yu / EdgeProp Singapore | August 19, 2022 11:36 AM SGT
The Westminster Fire Station has been transformed into 17 boutique apartments (Picture: Far East Orchard)
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EDGEPROP (SINGAPORE) - Singapore-listed property company Far East Orchard has been investing in the UK since 2015. Its portfolio predominantly consists of purpose-built student accommodation. To date, it has accumulated a portfolio of 3,561 beds in cities like Brighton, Bristol, Leeds, Newcastle upon Tyne and Sheffield.
Beyond its portfolio of purpose-built student housing in the UK, Far East Orchard has one prized gem of a property in Central London: The former Westminster Fire Station, a red-brick Edwardian-era structure built in 1906, and a Grade II-listed building.
Far East Orchard purchased the building for GBP9.4 million in 2016. “The rich heritage of the Westminster Fire Station is captivating as it presided over several defining moments over the decades,” says Alan Tang, group CEO of Far East Orchard.
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STATION HOUSE FIRE STATION - EDGEPROP SINGAPORE
The new-build Station House in customised iridescent bricks to complement the original red bricks of the Fire Station​ (Picture: Far East Orchard)
To the south of Westminster is the River Thames, with the historic City of London to the east, and Kensington and Chelsea to the west. An affluent borough that includes Mayfair, Soho and Paddington, Westminster is home to the iconic landmarks of Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament and the London Eye.
Westminster’s prime location has made it one of the most exclusive residential addresses in London, says CBRE UK in its Area Guide report on Westminster in January, adding: “Westminster is one of the two London boroughs that can boast a ‘city’ status.”
Once an important arm of the Metropolitan Fire Brigade, the Westminster Fire Station was decommissioned in 2014. Having purchased the property in 2016, Far East Orchard collaborated with London-based property development management company Alchemi Group, architectural firm Openstudio Architects and interior design firm Studio L, London, in conserving and repurposing the former fire station into a luxury development with 17 boutique apartments, each with a unique layout.
landscaped courtyard - EDGEPROP SINGAPORE
The landscaped courtyard situated between the Fire Station and Station House (Picture: Far East Orchard)

Former fire station turned luxury apartments

“We believe the station is a reminder that the past walks hand in hand with the present, through the changes around Westminster, and the redevelopment of Westminster Fire Station,” says Far East Orchard’s Tang.
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Besides the luxury residences, the conserved fire station now houses Mathura, a fine dining restaurant by celebrity chef Atul Kochhar, who holds two Michelin stars. Kochhar is famous for his fine-dining fusion cuisine, combining Indian cuisine with locally-grown British produce. Mathura is said to be the “culinary culmination” of Kocchar’s travels around India, Pakistan and Afghanistan. The restaurant and bar occupy about 5,000 sq ft of space, spread across two floors.
Studio L has retained many of the original features within the Fire Station, including the fireman’s pole, the glazed tiled brick walls, and steel beams across the 4m high ceilings. The original Watch Room — the command centre of the fire station — has been retained and repurposed as a private dining space.
Mathura fine dining restaurant - EDGEPROP SINGAPORE
The Mathura fine dining restaurant by two-Michelin-star celebrity chef Atul Kochhar opened at Westminster Fire Station last year
The main entrance to the restaurant and the apartments is through the original carriage doors of the fire engine bays at the original Fire Station that have been preserved. The courtyard, which now sits between the Fire Station and Station House, and had been where firemen exercised and where the horses resided, has been transformed into a landscaped garden and secluded oasis. The restaurant also fronts the courtyard.
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The residences — no two alike

While the soul of the Fire Station has been retained, the interiors have been modernised, in keeping with aesthetics, modern-day lifestyle and sustainability, says Far East Orchard’s Tang. “It’s a timeless building, reinvented for the future,” he adds.
Of the 17 apartments, four are one-bedders, 10 are two-bedders and three are three-bedrooms including the penthouse. Residents will also enjoy around-the-clock concierge service while living in the historic 999-year leasehold Westminster Fire Station.
Apartments in the original Fire Station - EDGEPROP SINGAPORE
Apartments in the original Fire Station will feature original windows with additional glazing (Far East Orchard)
The original fire station houses seven apartments, including a 1,707 sq ft, three-bedroom penthouse. The penthouse has a pitched roof with a circular window and skylight. The other six apartments are spread across the first, second and third floors, with two apartments on each floor. No two apartments are alike, with sizes ranging from 902 to 1,439 sq ft. While the apartments feature the original windows, these have been treated with secondary glazing.
Complementing the Fire Station is a modern building, the Station House. Openstudio Architects designed the façade of the new Station House with customised iridescent bricks to harmonise with the Edwardian-style red brick patterns of the original Fire Station. The Station House has 11 apartments, which are a mix of one- to three-bedroom apartments, ranging from 421 to 1,490 sq ft.
These apartments are in a contemporary style, with floor-to-ceiling windows leading out to a private terrace with brass screening. The apartments will have parquet flooring with underfloor heating in the living, kitchen and bedroom areas. Primary bathrooms are custom designed with mosaic marble flooring and white marble walls. Family bathrooms are inlaid with Italian marble floor tiles and wall tiles in a herringbone pattern, while accessories and fittings will have an antique brass finish. Kitchens are provided with top-end Miele appliances, built- in Siemens dishwashers and Liebherr fridge freezers.
Show unit of an apartment at Westminster Fire Station - EDGEPROP SINGAPORE
Show unit of an apartment at Westminster Fire Station (Picture: Far East Orchard)

Sustainability features

The development has sustainability at its core. The Station House was built with low-impact building materials, solar panels and a green roof which also promotes biodiversity. The overall development has a carbon reduction target of 60%, which is higher than the 35% carbon reduction target set by the Greater London Authority and the City of Westminster. This is largely due to the developer’s efforts in restoring the Fire Station.
The architecture of the Station House has also been designed to reduce heat loss in winter and to use the sun’s warmth in the summer. There is a 10% reduction in unregulated carbon emissions from using energy-efficient appliances and user-friendly energy-measuring thermostats. Another 80% of the waste heat is saved by the heat recovery units. Solar panels in the development will save 2.9 tonnes of carbon per year.
Kitchen of a show unit - EDGEPROP SINGAPORE
Kitchen of a show unit (Picture: Far East Orchard)
The interior specifications have been chosen for their quality and their low environmental impacts. Responsibly sourced materials and suppliers were sought, and local suppliers were prioritised to help minimise impact.
With the apartments at Westminster Fire Station completed and ready for occupation, CBRE UK was appointed as the marketing agency for the project, which was launched in London in April, followed by Hong Kong in May.

Living in Westminster

Westminster is well-connected and is served by most Underground lines as well as main railway stations including Charing Cross, Marylebone, Paddington, and Victoria, says CBRE.
bedroom of a show unit ​- EDGEPROP SINGAPORE
A bedroom of a show unit ​(Picture: Far East Orchard)
“The area of Westminster is well served by public transport infrastructure, with the St. James’s Park Station and Victoria Station within walking distance,” adds Far East Orchard’s Tang.
Westminster is also near some of London’s most famous parks including Regent’s Park, Hyde Park and St James Park. Westminster is also a vibrant neighbourhood that appeals to the young, with its trendy bars, clubs and restaurants.
Average house prices in Westminster are 95% higher than the London average, according to CBRE UK’s data as of January. The average rent of a two-bedroom flat is also 70% higher than the London average.
The bathroom - EDGEPROP SINGAPORE
The bathroom (Picture: Far East Orchard)

House price growth in Westminster over the last five years was 4%, which was lower than London’s 10%. However, over the next five years, growth in housing prices in Westminster is projected to be 20%, slightly higher than London’s 19%. Average asking rents in Westminster grew 26% over the last five years, higher than London at 14%. Over the next five years, average rents are projected to grow by 15%, higher than London at 14%, says CBRE UK.
In Singapore, Westminster Fire Station is marketed by Far East Real Estate Agency, an entity of Far East Organization, which is also the parent company of Far East Orchard.
Prices start from GBP895,000 ($1.4 million) for a one-bedroom apartment. Reservation fees start at GBP5,000 for a one-bedroom apartment and GBP10,000 for a two- and three-bedroom apartments. A 10% deposit on the total purchase price is payable upon the exchange of contracts, while the remaining 90% is payable upon completion.
Prices at Westminster Fire Station start from GBP895,000 ($1.4 million) for a one-bedroom apartment (Picture: Far East Orchard)

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