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Lifestyle DU CANE COUrt

Over theyearsmany of theflatshavebeen modernised,but alarge number retain their period features. Although the original clock/ radios arenolongeroperational someof these have been kept as a charming period piece by someresidents. In the communal areas, the corridors

remain exactly as they werewhen thebuilding was first occupied, with leaded light windows finishedincopperabove each frontdoor. There arealsoexamplesofthe original Terrazzo flooring in someof the lift areas finished in the greenmarblethatwas in vogueatthe time. Many of theblock entrances stillboast black andwhite marbledecorated with an Italian designand this is also in evidence on the communal staircases throughout the building. Thebuilding’s owners DorringtonBelgravia Ltd,haveworkedhardtopreservethe artdeco features at Du Cane Court, retainingrevolving doors in the foyer and ensuring that any windowsthatneed replacingare substituted forthose produced to aspecification that exactlymatchesthe oldones. Theonlyreal changetothe appearance of theblock is that allthe window frames arenow paintedwhite in contrast to theoriginalgreen.

Celebritystatus anumberofcelebrities have called Du Cane Court homeover the years, including actress DameMargaret Rutherford,who played Agatha Christie’samateursleuthMissMarple; 1950sand ‘60s comedian TommyTrinder; andnotoriousmodelChristine Keeler.More recently actorChristopherLuscombeand alternativecomedianArthurSmith havemade theirhomes there, as well as actressandMBE CarmenMonroe –perhaps best knowntoolder readers as one of the presenters on Playschool. Theblock has also beenusedasafilm location, most famously for The Plymouth Express episode of ITVsmuch-loved series Poirot,wherethe building features prominently in the opening scenes. Todaythe blockisexceptionally popular,

with flats sellingquickly andrentedproperties providinganexcellent return.Prices vary depending on the size of the flat, with one- bedroomflatsselling fromaround £300,000. Service charges for a one-bedroomground floor flatare around £2400ayearwhich,inthe spirit of old-fashionedfairness, doesn’tinclude the lift charge levied on flats higher up the building.Communalheating andhot wateris supplied to allthe flats andthe cost includedin the service charge.

celebritieshavecalled DuCane Court home over theyears

Flat owners enjoythe benefit of an on-site

management teamand 24-hour concierge as well as ateamofmaintenancestaff,which includesaplumber to keep theheating and hotwater systemsrunning efficiently. A plumber, painter andmaintenanceman are also available for residents’ use for a fee. Thereare 78 garagesonthe estate,mostly privatelyowned butwithsomeavailablefor rent.The resident’s parkingareaoperateson a first-come-first-served basis but designated bays canalsoberented. Bicyclestorage is provided both inside andoutside the building,which also boasts aservice lift to enable residents tomove heavy furniture andother bulkyitemsup to theirflatsand an extensive basement with storage units forrent. Theseplus-points alladd up to making life just that little biteasierfor the residents and help give the block a good communityfeel. Flat owners oftencomment that Du Cane Courtfeels alittlelikeliving

Du Cane Court features prominently in an episode of Poirot


in ahotel –animpressionthatisenhanced by thecommunalgardens surrounding theblockwhichare Japaneseindesignand created by well-knownlandscape gardener SeyemonKusumoto.

Representing residents Someonewho is well qualifiedtotalkabout living at Du Cane CourtisCharlesJones, who has lived in his flat for 23 years and is thechairmanofthe ResidentsAssociation. He is thefirst to admitthathis isn’tthemost active RA,duemainly to thefactthatmost residentshavelittletocomplain aboutor campaign for. Thebuilding ismanaged“very efficiently” by propertymanagers Allsop Residential InvestmentManagement (ARIM) whohaveapermanent presenceon-site and a senior blockmanager NoellaMorton (see below)who is “ruthlessly thorough” and“whosedoorisalwaysopen” according to Charles. Thereisalsoahighproportion of buy-to-let at Du Cane Court-the ratioof long leaseholders to renters in the building is 55%:45%- and thismeans that almost half theresidents arenot particularly interested in beingpartofablock community. Despite this,the RA workshardonthe residents’ behalf to ensure all service charges are accurate,insurances paid andrenewed on timeandany issuesare dealtwithswiftly. Charles has also negotiated discounts for RA members with a number of local shops and restaurants – ofwhich there aremany in Balham–and he hopesthatthismay prove an incentivefor moreflat owners to paytheir £5 a year to join.

Meet themanager NoellaMorton heads up the ARIM management teamat Du Cane Court,which also comprisesanother propertymanagerand an estatemanager/headporter. In additionto theARIMstaffthere areatotal of 14members of staffemployed directly by the landlord in house andwho report to Noella, carrying out thedailymaintenanceand conciergeroles.

14 Issue 16 Flat Living

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