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The recent wave of build to rent schemes, which boast modern interiors and luxury facilities, have hit the headlines as being innovative new developments.

However, it may come as a surprise to some that build to rent schemes were first pioneered decades ago. Mansion blocks like Du Cane Court in Balham were developed in the 1930s in response to the demand for decent quality, fit for purpose rental accommodation. Built in 1937 in the iconic Art Deco style that was flourishing at the time, and completed in just one year, Du Cane Court is one of the first build to rent schemes of its kind and has become a local landmark in itself, even featuring in an episode of the popular television series, Poirot.

Du Cane Court comprises 676 one, two, three and four bedroom apartments and is the largest private block in Europe under one roof. It is one of the few Art Deco developments in London to retain a 24-hour concierge. Housing around 1,300 people and with a strong community feel, it is one of London’s first build to rent success stories.

When it was first launched, Du Cane Court gave birth to the modern standard of build to rent accommodation and amenities; the apartments were finished to an exceptional specification with interiors ahead of their time. Every apartment boasted its very own electric clock and radio and a resident manager lived on the premises in order to attend to the needs of residents. Rather exclusively every floor had its own private phone booth (quite the calling of its time) and residents could draw on the luxury of extended apartment services at only an hour’s notice. Services incorporated hotel-style cleaning, linen change, concierge, butler errands and shoe shine. Residents also enjoyed exclusive access to the top floor restaurant and bar enjoying 360-degree views of London and a private Du Cane Court Members’ Club with extensive facilities.

Du Cane Court gave birth to the modern standard of build to rent accommodation

Du Cane Court also pre-dated modern build to rent schemes through the international make-up of its residents, who, drawn by the excellent links to their workplaces in the City, Whitehall and Victoria, predominately came from Commonwealth countries.

Today, the development is half way through a major refurbishment programme, all the while ensuring it retains its iconic original 1930s style. Dorrington, who owns the freehold of Du Cane Court – and for whom Allsop undertakes management of the development – has already made significant improvements to the asset infrastructure including replacement of communal hot water and heating systems, and major roof and pointing works. The second phase focuses on front of house aesthetics including internal redecoration and commissioning of a landscape architect to revive the gardens, bringing the original Japanese design of famous landscape artist

Seyemon Kusumoto back to the courtyards. In recent years Balham has enjoyed significant rejuvenation and is primed for further growth. With a forward-thinking investor and strong management team bringing it into the 21st century, Du Cane Court will continue to lead the way.


Notes to editor

As part of Allsop’s focus on the Build to Rent sector, Adrian was promoted to the position of Head of Block and Facilities Management in 2016.  In addition to the management of new developments, including The Hoola development in the Royal Docks, Adrian also oversees the management of existing developments including Du Cane Court in London, which has over 600 apartments.

Adrian is an Associate Member of the RICS, a Member of the Institute of Residential Property Management and also represents Allsop Letting and Management within ARMA.