A residential renaissance is taking place in Bloomsbury. For years the appeal of this historic central-London district has been diluted by the mix with academia and offices.
However, with the blessing of Camden council, some of the best Georgian town houses, long ago split into barristers' chambers or given over to university bureaucracies, are returning to residential use.
Bedford Estate, the area's major freeholder, is leading neighbourhood improvements by grooming better quality retailers. London's largest Waitrose, badge of the aspirational middle class, has opened at the renovated Brunswick Centre, the iconic Sixties estate, while in Bloomsbury's backstreets, small niche developments are appearing.
Already, villagey pockets around Lamb's Conduit Street, Flaxman Terrace and Museum Street are attracting new restaurants, galleries and speciality shops, with renovated flats above. Refurbished Russell Square now has a café to go with its clutch of design awards.
‘Four Tube stations on the doorstep make up for the lack of schools’
A pair of listed five-storey Georgian houses overlooking pretty Bedford Square have been converted into nine rental apartments, priced from £500 to £875 a week. With their elegant fan-lighted street doors and tall windowed drawing rooms on the first floor, the homes offer a chance to live in grand surroundings. Call Hurford Salvi Carr on 020 7299 3322.
At Huntley Street, an Edwardian tenement is being turned into 33 two-bedroom flats by developer Barratt Homes (020 8522 5555). Called Bloomsbury Terrace, prices start at £699,000.
Neighbouring Fitzrovia has 15 apartments for sale at a boutique scheme on Great Portland Street. Contemporary interiors have walnut flooring, mood lighting and "climate control", and there is a daytime concierge. Prices from £575,000. Call Humberts on 020 7290 2822.
A mixed-use scheme on Store Street by freeholder City of London Corporation has spawned 11 apartments in a period office building. The address is moments from the "homewares hub" of furniture stores on Tottenham Court Road. Prices are from £375,000. Call DTZ on 020 7408 7575.
Arguably, Bloomsbury will become more fashionable because of regeneration at nearby King's Cross. With the emergence of a new business district served by Eurostar trains, homebuying executives will gravitate across busy Euston Road and into Bloomsbury - a place of elegant squares, hidden mews and peaceful corners.
Check out Mecklenburgh Square, which borders Coram's Fields. The location is a little piece of Chelsea in Bloomsbury. The garden square is residents-only and bollards at one end stop through-traffic. Large, unmodernised houses can be picked up for about £1.5 million.
Pied-à-terre hunters and parents buying for their student children make up a large chunk of the property market - the local student population is about 18,000 and growing.
Bloomsbury has always appealed to radicals and romantics. The downside for buyers is the lack of schools but pluses include four Tube stations within easy walking distance.