As a rule of thumb, properties north of the river are more expensive than those on the south side, but the “value gap” is smaller than it was five or 10 years ago, due to the spectacular rise of districts such as Borough, where average prices have jumped 189 per cent in a decade.
The SE1 postcode in particular is a continuing hotspot, with the main action along the waterfront, where glamorous apartment schemes are making a much bigger splash than on the north bank.
Balham and Tooting have also seen big rises — 114 per cent over 10 years — and along with Clapham, these “mid-range” areas are now comparable in price to Kentish Town and Tufnell Park, north of the river.
AVERAGE HOUSE PRICES ALONG THE NORTHERN LINE
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ONE TO WATCH: STOCKWELL
Some people doubt the south will ever catch up with north London. Away from the smart riverside developments, delis and wine bars are in short supply. However, areas such as Stockwell, despite edgy council estates, seem bound to get smartened up as the property price ripple spreads from the centre, which is why they may be the best places to buy and invest in — if you can play the long game and hang on for the trendy shops to arrive.
The next phase of new homes at Oval Quarter will launch in September 2014. To register interest, visit ovalquarter.com
NEW TUBE STATIONS: NINE ELMS
The next significant Tube upgrade, possibly by 2018, is an extension of the Northern line that will plug London’s biggest regeneration zone, 450-acre Nine Elms, into the Underground network. A spur from Kennington to Battersea will create new stations at Vauxhall and Battersea Power Station. The longer-term aim is to extend the Northern line further west to Clapham Junction, the UK’s busiest station.
Up-and-coming Vauxhall will get a boost and the impact will also be felt in Kennington and Oval. Oval Quarter brings a much-needed housing scheme of scale and style to the area and has proved a hit with buyers looking for a good-value address.
A Seventies council estate — 30-acre Myatt’s Field North — has been bulldozed to make way for 808 new homes and one of the largest new parks in London. There will also be allotments and a showpiece community centre with café, crèche and IT suite built “under” the park but with a sloping glass roof to maximise solar gain. Shared-ownership flats go on sale next weekend, from £124,000 for the minimum 40 per cent share (full price, £310,000). Call Notting Hill Housing on 020 8357 4444.
Close to the famous cricket ground is the Lilian Baylis Old School building, now listed and set to become a new community of 149 homes, including spacious loft-style apartments in the original Sixties classroom blocks and new four-bedroom townhouses. Prices from £340,000. Call Kinleigh Folkard & Hayward on 020 7740 2640.
Here, too, is listed Beaufoy Institute, a splendid Victorian building, once an educational establishment and now a community facility. Parliament Reach, with 45 flats, is being built on the rear car park. Call Investin on 020 3675 4000.
Canaletto is a sleek 31-storey tower with flats priced from £720,000. Call 020 7608 1825
ANGEL OF THE NORTH: AREAS WITH GROWTH POTENTIAL
For those playing safe, it is true that the prestigious addresses remain north of the river. Many of the capital’s chattering classes still opt for the Islington heartland, while inner north London suburbs such as Hampstead and Highgate have increasing allure. Iain Currie of Farringdon estate agent Thomson Currie, says: “South London has no obvious rival to, say, Primrose Hill, and in general houses north of the river are bigger and grander.
“The infrastructure in south London is being upgraded but those people working in the City and the West End want to live in more commuter-friendly north London.”
The main patch — spreading from Highbury to Hampstead and from Angel to Camden — attracts bankers, lawyers and middle-class radicals who find the north convenient and more sophisticated than south London.
The young creative crowd prefer to live on the City fringe, in the district between Old Street and King’s Cross. A crop of fashionable apartment schemes and a new canalside quarter have arrived on City Road, a once-dowdy thoroughfare running between Old Street and Angel Tube stations in Islington. Development has been given impetus by the so-called “Silicon Roundabout” cluster of fast-growing tech and creative companies. Young City professionals and Shoreditch designers are the mainstay of this district. They like new, modern apartment buildings and being able to walk to work.
The Eagle, with 206 flats priced from £890,000, designed by Farrell & Partners, launches soon. These range from one bedroom apartments up to four-bedroom penthouses. To register, call 0845 0779550.
Canaletto, a sleek 31-storey glass-and-steel tower has flats priced from £720,000. It will have a spa and private cinema plus a Manhattan-style “club lounge” and garden terrace high up the building. Call 020 7608 1825.
ARCHWAY: LIVING ABOVE THE STATION
Lower-priced Archway, in Zone 2, stands out as a promising north London address. Archway Tower, a former social security office building that sits above the Tube station, is being turned into 100 flats by developer Essential Living, with some available to rent.
A new private French school has added to the growing buzz about Kentish Town, which is attracting a new generation of arty Londoners. One of the capital’s best contemporary-art galleries, Zabludowicz Collection, has opened and photographer Ian Rankin has a studio in the area, too. Piano Yard, a mews-style terrace of homes and offices, has been built on the site of former workshops five minutes’ walk from the Tube station. Prices from £775,000. Call Pilcher Hershman on 020 7399 8600.
The Fashion Apartments in Kentish Town have been carved from a handsome former design showroom on Grafton Road. These double-height, two bedroom spaces with big windows are priced from £650,000. Call Green & Co on 020 7604 3200.