Connected to central London only by bus, Stoke Newington is still largely uncharted territory for many Londoners. But for those in the know, the area’s relative inaccessibility is part of its charm, preserving its arty, alternative vibe and sense of community.
'This is an area of young families and they're not strapped for cash'
The past 10 years have seen a wave of gentrification sweep through this previously unremarkable slice of north London, with young professionals and families moving into the tree-lined streets of Victorian terraces either side of Stoke Newington Church Street.
Independent shops, restaurants and cafés sprang up along Church Street to service the growing middle-class clientele, and residents launched a magazine, N16, which is still going strong.
This month’s (May 23, 2010) opening of the new East London line station down the road at Dalston will put the area on the Tube map for the first time, and streets south of Stoke Newington towards the new station are already starting to gentrify as buyers snap up properties hoping to see prices rise on the back of improved transport links.
But the effect on Stoke Newington is likely to be limited until the line’s terminus at Highbury and Islington opens next year, say agents. When the whole of the East London line is open, it will link into fast routes to central London, ending Stokey’s splendid isolation forever.
Stoke Newington: what to expect
Properties: Victorian properties of varying sizes predominate, from smaller three-bedroom houses in streets south of Church Street between Defoe and Dynevor Roads, to handsome four- and five-bedroom red-brick houses in Clissold Crescent and Carysfort Road.
Yoakley Road and Bouverie Road next to Abney Park Cemetery are wide and tree-lined with solid Victorian terraces. Church Street has a handful of well-preserved Georgian town houses and tall, 19th-century houses with Kensington-style columned porches by Clissold Park.
The area attracts: professional couples and families; media and creative types; first-time buyers already renting in the area; incomers from other parts of Hackney, and affluent families wanting more practical space for their money than they can find in Islington or Highbury. Vicky Bibiris, sales director of Location, Location (020 7923 9222), says: “This is an area of young families and they’re not strapped for cash.”
Staying power: good, especially if parents have managed to get their
children into their favoured primary school (properties within catchment areas command premium prices). But trading up within Stoke Newington isn’t always easy because there is a shortage of larger family homes.
Next Move’s Richard Scotsford says: “Lots of people try to move within the area but there’s a shortage of large Victorian houses, because once they’re in, people stay put.”
Some families leave when children reach secondary school age, moving to more far-flung London suburbs such as Crouch End or Muswell Hill.
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Postcodes: all of Stoke Newington is in N16, a postcode which has resonance beyond its immediate locality because it has come to symbolise a specific type of affluent but alternative and liberal Londoner. Stoke Newington shares its postcode with Stamford Hill, home to London’s largest ultra-Orthodox Jewish community and the polar opposite of its trendy neighbour.
The rental market in Stoke Newington is getting tighter as tenants stay put to save themselves the cost of moving, says Bibiris. This is bad for aspiring tenants as rents are rising sharply.
Best streets: the closer you are to the nexus of Stoke Newington Church Street and the green space of Clissold Park, the better. If you want a smaller family house, look south of Church Street in Kynaston, Chesholm or Lavers Roads. For large family homes, try Carysfort Road or Clissold Crescent.
Up and coming areas: buyers who can’t afford Stoke Newington proper are moving south to the ladder of streets west of Stoke Newington High Street, including Beatty Road, Walford Road, Brighton Road and Palatine Road. Prices are rising here, says Scotsford, but you’ll still pay 15 per cent less than for the equivalent off Church Street.
These streets are also just a short walk from the new Dalston East London line station. Some people are also venturing north of Amhurst Park, to streets off Vartrey Road, says Bibiris, where two-bedroom, Victorian, purpose-built maisonettes are 20 per cent cheaper compared to Stoke Newington.
What’s new: the densely built-up Victorian streets and precious green spaces don’t leave much room for large developments, and any new building has mostly been on small infill plots.
Schools: the borough of Hackney performs better than average in league tables and one of the reasons parents move to the area is to get their children into a good primary school - of which there are several, all with tight catchment areas. Popular choices include Grasmere and Jubilee. Secondary schools include the oversubscribed Stoke Newington School (mixed) and Our Lady’s Convent RC (girls).
Shops and restaurants: Church Street is a mecca of second-hand bookshops, galleries, independent designer shops and restaurants serving every type of food, and outside tables are full on sunny weekends when traffic is lighter. Chains have a battle to move in - locals were vociferous in opposition to the arrival of a Nando’s in 2008.
Green space/culture: green spaces are small and beautiful rather than sweeping, and include Clissold Park, Stoke Newington’s back garden, a space of well-kept lawns and mature trees where to drop litter is to incur instant displeasure. The park and its centrepiece, the Grade II-listed Clissold House, are undergoing an £8.9 million restoration. Off Church Street is Abney Park Cemetery, with crumbling Victorian gravestones gradually being reclaimed by nature.
Transport: buses only, including the vital 73 link to Victoria, until the East London line opens.
Council: Hackney (Labour); Band D council tax £1,308.
Average sale prices: N16
One-bedroom flat: £218,441
Two-bedroom flat: £294,499
Two-bedroom house: £451,625
Three-bedroom house: £525,330
Four-bedroom house: £647,957
Average rental prices: N16
One-bedroom flat: £250pw+
Two-bedroom flat: £320pw+
Three-bedroom flat: £450pw+
Three-bedroom houe: £650pw+
Four-bedroom house: £650 to £700+ a week
Photographs by Barry Phillips
All details correct at time of publication (May 12, 2010).