Is the Grand Designs water tower cursed? At £2.4m profit, it’s certainly no washout

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  • The weird and wonderful water tower conversion featured on Grand Designs last year has had almost £2million knocked off its asking price, prompting speculation that the TV show could be cursed. But is this price drop really the property disaster some critics are making it out to be?

    ‘It’s the curse of Grand Designs’! property commentators have wailed in the wake of the news that the converted Victorian water tower featured on the Channel 4 programme last year has had its asking price slashed from £6.5million to £4.75million – an almost £2million drop.

    Described by presenter Kevin McCloud as ‘a jaw-dropping showstopper’, the Grade II listed tower once sat in the grounds of the Lambeth workhouse in Kennington, South London, and is one of the most ambitious projects ever to appear on the show.

    Following its spectacular overhaul, it now boasts four luxury bedrooms, a glass-walled living
    space with 360-degree views of London, and its own lift for accessing the building’s nine floors. So why has no-one been willing to cough up the original asking price for this unique property? Could the water tower really be cursed

    Something old, something new: the current owners carefully restored the Victorian features of the Kennington water tower and added a sensitively-designed modern extension to create extra living space  Knight Frank

    The so-called ‘Grand Designs curse’ has become the stuff of legend after several developments featured in the show subsequently fell on hard times.

    Remember that guy who had two heart attacks and then split up with his wife before they even had a chance to move into their West Midlands church conversion? Or the infamous ‘Curve’ in Brighton, which was plagued by a smorgasbord of setbacks, from house fires to health problems? And what about the poor couple who set out to create an ‘eco-barge’ in the Thames estuary only to have it trashed by vandals and marooned on a nearby beach?

    Leigh Osborne and Graham Voce bought the property for just £380,000 in 2011, but spent £2million doing it up, straining their finances to the limit.

    Given the amount love and money they poured into the project, you can hardly blame them for initially aiming high on the off-chance some eccentric oligarch on the hunt for a one-of-a-kind London crash pad might fall in love with the property and pay over the odds for it.

    But eccentric oligarchs are in relatively short supply, so it’s not that surprising that the tower’s price had to tumble to attract a wider audience. And when it does sell, no doubt Osborne and Voce will crack open the champagne and congratulate themselves on a job well done.

    Room with a view: one of the most striking elements of the modern extension is the glass box known as 'The Cube', a stunning contemporary living area with 360-degree views across London Knight Frank

    But what of the Grand Designs curse? Well, for a show that’s been running for 14 years, featuring well over 100 projects across 12 series, statistics suggest there are likely to be a few failures along the way.

    After all, the designs on the programme are, as its title states, ‘grand’, and with great ambition comes great risk – and it’s this knife-edge between triumph and tragedy that keeps us glued to our screens year after year.

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