A bustling north London neighbourhood, Holloway stretches out on either side of the Great North Road where visitors are surprised to find street after street of well-maintained Victorian houses that wouldn’t look out of place in a much wealthier area.
The name Holloway is grimly associated with the women’s prison of the same name but today, the area is better-known as the new home of Arsenal football club and on match days the streets become a sea of red as Gunners fans make their way to the club’s fine stadium in Ashburton Grove.
The stadium redevelopment has brought huge regeneration to more than 60 acres of Holloway and nearby Highbury and when it is complete more than 2,500 new flats will have been built, some bought by Arsenal fans.
As well as football fans, the area is a magnet for students studying at London Metropolitan University, which has its north London campus on Holloway Road and is responsible for one of the area’s most striking landmarks, the crumpled box-like structure designed by star architect Daniel Libeskind (below).
What you can buy
There are plenty of new-build flats to buy and rent but Holloway’s main housing stock remains Victorian, with everything from two-bedroom cottages to large five-bedroom family houses, many of which have been converted into spacious flats.
The area attracts students who come to study at London Metropolitan University and young professionals and families who cannot afford to buy in nearby Islington or Camden.
According to Anthony Steel from Kinleigh Folkard & Hayward, family houses command up to £700 a square foot in Islington whereas in Holloway prices range between £400 and £500 a square foot. There is also an active rental market with many of the new flats sold to “buy-to-let” investors.
Holloway can be a transitory area. Students don’t stay for long, while renters move around. Carl Coade of long-standing Holloway estate agent, Drivers & Norris, which celebrates 160 years in the area next year, says that improving secondary schools are now keeping families in the area.
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The best roads
The roads in the Hillmarton conservation area are very sought after. Roads to look out for are Penn Road, Hungerford Road, Middleton Grove, Freegrove Road and Beacon Hill. Here four-bedroom Victorian houses sell for about £850,000 and a semi-detached house on Hungerford Road recently sold for £1.4 million.
As for postcodes, N7 is the Holloway postcode but also includes parts of Barnsbury, Islington and Tufnell Park; N5, the smartest postcode, is for Highbury; while N19 is for Upper Holloway, which includes the pretty Mercers Road and Tavistock Road conservation area
The Arsenal regeneration project consists of a number of different sites. More than 500 flats have already been built at Vizion7 in Eden Grove, on the west side of Holloway Road in brightly-coloured blocks surrounding a new piazza.
Another 280 flats have been built along Drayton Park backing on to the stadium, where bright green pavilions form striking entrances to low-rise blocks.
The iconic Art Deco former Highbury stadium has now been turned in to 650 stylish loft-style flats with a communal garden on the old football pitch.
Housing association Newlon has built 250 flats in the Ashburton Triangle and the same number in blocks scattered around Lough Road close to the Caledonian Road. The last phase, QN7, of 730 flats will occupy five 10- to 15-storey blocks along Queensland Road, close to the new stadium. The first phase of 354 affordable flats will be built by Newlon (0800 058 2544) and will be finished in 2013.
The roads around Aubert Park, close to the old Arsenal stadium, have been turned into a quiet backwater and prices are rising as a result. Carle
Coade also tips the Jackson Road area off the Holloway Road, close to the Tube station, where there is an annual street party and four-bedroom, three-storey houses sell for about £750,000. Also, Biddestone Road and Widdenham Road are in the triangle between Holloway Road and Caledonian Road where, unusually for this area, there are three-bedroom Thirties houses which sell for about £550,000.
Holloway has three primary schools judged “outstanding” by government education watchdog, Ofsted: Grafton in Eburne Road, Sacred Heart RC in George’s Road and Yerbury in Foxham Road.
The best performing state comprehensive schools are: Camden Girls’ School, judged “outstanding” but heavily oversubscribed; St Aloysius RC for boys; La Sainte Union RC for girls; and St Mary Magdalene, which is a Cof E academy school that opened in 2007, taking pupils from age four to 18. The nearest private schools are
Highgate for boys and Channing for girls.
Leisure and the arts
Holloway Road is the main shopping thoroughfare. Like Streatham it has never fully recovered from the closure of Jones Brothers, a branch of John Lewis, in 1990, but unlike Streatham, it did get a Waitrose in its place. James Selby is now the local department store.
Highbury Park is a secondary shopping street with a number of gems: Patricia Michelson’s cheese shop, La Fromagerie, is here, as is Frogs and Fairies for toys and children’s clothes. Da Mario is an Italian deli, Frank Godfrey is the local butcher and Iznik is a long-standing Turkish restaurant.
On Mountgrove Road, off Blackstock Road, find Bennett & Brown, which restores and sells interesting furniture, and Café Vintage, also selling vintage clothing, recently mentioned in Vogue.
The best nearby restaurants are in Islington: Trullo is a fashionable Italian on St Paul’s Road close to Highbury & Islington Tube station and Morgan M is on Liverpool Road.
There isn’t a lot of open space. Highbury Fields is a hilly park surrounded by fine Georgian houses; Paradise Park is a small park between Mackenzie and Sheringham Road with an award-winning new children’s centre and the Freightliners city farm; and Gillespie Park is a nature reserve tucked away in the shadow of the new stadium. The Odeon cinema on the Holloway Road at the Nag’s Head intersection is the nearest multiplex cinema and a local landmark.
The Pleasance in North Road is the local fringe theatre and in nearby Islington there is the Almeida and also the King’s Head Theatre.
Holloway is well-connected with three Tube stations - Caledonian Road, Holloway Road and Arsenal on the Piccadilly line. There are plenty of buses into central London and the City. Holloway is in Zone 2 and an annual travel card to Zone 1 costs £1,104.
Islington (Labour); Band D council tax for 2011/12 is £1,271.69.