Spotlight on Kentish Town

Our property expert Sara McConnell finds Kentish Town is increasingly popular with families looking for more space

Rising star of the north

Tucked between loops of road and railway line on the way up to Hampstead Heath, Kentish Town is easy to miss. But this Victorian railway suburb is emerging as a popular choice for north London buyers wanting good space for their money, the Heath on their doorstep and a nine-minute journey to the City.

Peter Malcomess of Chesterton Humberts (020 7267 1010) says: “You get the best of both worlds here because you’ve got the Heath on one side, Camden Market on the other, you’re near Regent’s Park and you’re in Zone 2.”

Houses and flats for sale in Kentish Town
Houses and flats to rent in Kentish Town

Kentish Town has never been exactly smart, partly because it is carved up by railway lines, and it is still quite mixed, with large swathes of council estates and council-owned Victorian terrraces next to enclaves of lovingly tended middle-class homes. “People used not to think much of Kentish Town because it was a serious mix and there are lots of estates,” says Malcomess. “But we’re finding that it’s becoming more desirable and middle class.”

‘You’ve got the Heath on one side, Camden Market on the other, you’re near Regent’s Park and you’re in Zone 2’

For many, the mix is part of the attraction and it is rare for Kentish Town locals to want to move up the hill to the more rarefied heights of Hampstead even if they could afford it. “The type of people who live here are quite down to earth and you don’t get them moving up to Hampstead,” says Clive Nunes of Winkworth (020 7485 9210).

Kentish Town: area factfile

Properties: Most of Kentish Town proper is Victorian, developed around the railway in the 1840s and 1850s, —streets off Kentish Town Road are lined with solid mid-Victorian terraces in varying shapes and sizes.
Kelly Street, with houses painted different shades
Colourful: there are several pretty roads, such as Kelly Street, with houses painted different shades
Some of the prettiest streets, such as Leverton Street, have colourfully painted flat-fronted terraces which would not be out of place in the Portobello Road. Houses east of the Kentish Town Road are generally larger and smarter than in more industrial West Kentish Town, although there are some sought-after roads of flat-fronted mid-Victorian cottages in Alma and Inkerman Roads to the west.

A smattering of warehouse conversions are a legacy of Kentish Town’s past as a centre of piano manufacture and purpose-built Victorian mansion blocks in Lissenden Gardens overlook the heath. Neighbouring Dartmouth Park, to which many Kentish Town families aspire, has handsome Edwardian homes in wide, tree-lined streets.
Cafe on Kentish Town Road
Street life: one of the cafes and restaurants on Kentish Town Road
The area attracts: City workers and professionals who like the quick commute; journalists, creatives and writers; people from other parts of north London wanting more space for their money; people who want to be close to the clubs and markets of Camden Town without living there; Greek Cypriots and Irish to established communities.

Staying power: Very good, thanks to the proximity of good schools, good transport links and green space, all of which keep families in the area. Many are so reluctant to up sticks that it can be difficult to move into popular areas like Dartmouth Park. “People don’t move out of Dartmouth Park. The houses don’t change hands very often,” says Malcomess.
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Proximity to good schools is one of the reasons families live in Kentish Town

Postcodes: Kentish Town and Dartmouth Park are neatly encapsulated in the NW5 postcode, which also includes the council estates of less salubrious Gospel Oak. NW5 is still slightly cheaper than Camden NW1 and substantially cheaper than Hampstead NW3.
The Bull and Gate pub in Kentish Town Road
Mine’s a pint: the Bull and Gate pub in Kentish Town Road
Best streets: Sought-after roads include Lady Margaret Road and neighbouring streets in the grid north of Leighton Road, as well as roads round tree-lined Lady Somerset Road off Highgate Road. Further south, check out Patshull Road and Bartholemew Road (in pole position for popular Camden School for Girls round the corner).

Up-and-coming areas: The less-smart area around Kentish Town West station could be worth investigating as the refurbished Grade II-listed leisure centre finally opens this summer in Prince of Wales Road, says Malcomess. Grafton, Ryland and Willes Roads are all close to the leisure centre. Alternatively, period family houses in neighbouring Holloway N7 are two thirds of the price of their equivalent in Kentish Town and are a good buy, says Winkworth’s Nunes.

What’s new: Kentish Town is too built-up for major developments so any changes are on a small scale, on infill land or conversions of single buildings, say agents.

Schools: Proximity to good schools is one of the reasons families live in Kentish Town. There is a good of state schools, including strong secondary performers Camden School for Girls (mixed in sixth form) and La Sainte Union RC (girls), and the private schools of Hampstead and Highgate are a short distance away.

Shops and restaurants: Kentish Town Road has some established independent shops including a bookshop and sports shop. The opening of Pizza Express a few years ago was confirmation that there was a critical mass of middle-class families in the area.

Mediterranean food shops and restaurants testify to the presence of a large Greek Cypriot community (as does the nearby Greek church of St Cosmas and St Damian). Once tatty pubs like the Bull and Last have smartened up. But much of Kentish Town Road is scruffy, lined with fast-food and charity shops.

Green space/culture: Kentish Town may not look green at first sight but its northern end touches the rising ground of Hampstead Heath near the Parliament Hill Lido. One of the best ways to walk to the heath from the centre of Kentish Town is to pick up the narrow pedestrian College Lane from Lady Somerset Road and walk past its small Victorian cottages opening straight on to the street. Walk through the tunnel under the railway line to admire the tall Georgian terraces of Grove Terrace leading up to the heath.

Transport: There are good rail connections to St Pancras and the City via Thameslink, and Kentish Town West is also on the North London line looping across the northern suburbs. Tube: Northern line.

Council: Camden council (no overall control). Band D council tax: £1,332.

The rental market

Stocks of property to rent are low at the moment so would-be renters need to be decisive, says Ashley Wilmot of Chesterton Humberts. Competition for properties will intensify throughout the summer and into September as the new academic year starts.

Average lettings prices in NW5
One-bedroom flat: £220+pw
Two-bedroom flat: £280+pw
Two-bedroom house: 400+pw
Three-bedroom house: £500+pw
Four-bedroom house: £600+pw

The sales market

Average sales prices in NW5
One-bedroom flat: £246,427
Two-bedroom flat: £357,924
Two-bedroom house: £560,5000
Three-bedroom house: £641,964
Four-bedroom house: £877,875
(source: Hometrack)

Houses and flats for sale in Kentish Town
Houses and flats to rent in Kentish Town

Photographs by Barry Phillips

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