On the property ladder: London stairwell sells for £25,000

Entrepreneur buyer hopes to turn four-storey flight of stairs in Twickenham into a hub for pop-up businesses

Simon Squibb with the stairwell. Photo: HelpBnk
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A four-storey stairwell in Twickenham has become the latest quirky property to sell on the London housing market.

The flight of stairs, currently home to some old fire extinguishers, discarded bicycles and piles of cardboard boxes, has sold at auction for £25,000.

The stairs, at the back of a branch of Starbucks, originally served offices in the block, but after a refurbishment they were blocked off from the building.

The buyer, 49-year-old Simon Squibb, is a serial entrepreneur who is on his 19th business and has invested in 77 others.

However, he's not a property developer and isn't planning to turn the stairwell into a home.

Instead he hopes it will become an entrepreneurial hub where start-up businesses can hone their skills and wares in the real world.

“I found it fascinating when I read that there was a stairwell for sale,” he told The National.

“Symbolism for me is quite important. So, starting your own business, for example, is a step-by-step process.

“It appealed to my sense of humour as well – lots of puns, right? Life is step-by-step; Stairway to Heaven – all those metaphors.”

He started his own ascent in the business world at an early age.

At 15, Mr Squibb was temporarily homeless and decided that if he was going to make money, he had to create his own venture. So, he started a gardening business.

His latest venture is HelpBnk, a 75,000-person online community that encourages and incentivises entrepreneurs to assist each other, so new businesses can get a leg-up free of charge.

“A lot of businesses start in a garage,” he said.

Google started the garage. Amazon started in a garage. I thought we'd start our platform, HelpBnk, in a stairwell.

“Now we have a stairwell where we can all hang out. And, I guess, that's one part of why I bought it – it's our new office. It's our new HQ for this billion-dollar company I'm building.”

Taking it step by step

What didn't come with the £25,000 price was planning permission, and Mr Squibb says getting that will be an “interesting journey”.

“There's six different levels, and so each level can be a mini pop-up,” he told The National.

“The idea would be that if someone has a dream to start a business, we’ll give them a little space to do that. Then people can pop into the stairwell and meet the entrepreneur.

“We’d give it to them for a while for them to try out the business.

“That would all be subject to council planning and permissions, which we don't have right now. That's going to take a bit of time to get the council to agree, I'm sure.

“But I think it will be good for the area to have a place where small businesses can pop up and have a bit of support, both online and offline, to make their dream a reality.”

Mr Squibb has already heard pitches from developers who claimed they could turn the stairwell into a £500,000 apartment, but he believes the property market has “gone a bit mad”.

“Anybody who wants to be a successful entrepreneur has to be optimistic,” he added.

“I'm hoping the council see the good in the idea, but if they don't, then I am going to be stuck with a stairwell that's probably worth nothing.

“But that's the risk I'm willing to take. It's symbolism for me. I'll use it as our logo, as our symbol, and, yes, I'll lose some money.

“But it's worth it. It's worth trying.”

Updated: August 02, 2023, 5:33 PM