Kilburn is keen to be posh
They may share a postcode — NW6 — and they may be only a few streets apart, but there is an important difference: buyers are prepared to pay 25 per cent more to live in gentrified Queen’s Park than in Kilburn, its less-posh neighbour.
Ten years ago, families wanting more space than they could afford in West Hampstead or Notting Hill discovered the quiet streets around Queen’s Park. The well-kept park, good transport links and solid, spacious Victorian terraces were a big draw for the middle classes and the area gentrified rapidly. The tighter grids of streets between Willesden Cemetery and Kilburn High Road proved more resistant to change, with many houses split into flats and traffic noise constant.
Property prices reflect the difference between the two areas. Alan Isaacs, of the Queen’s Park Partnership (020 7328 2828), which sells homes in both areas, says Kilburn’s location between Queen’s Park and the equally smart district of West Hampstead could turn its fortunes round. “Within a few years, Kilburn won’t exist. It’ll either be Queen’s Park or West Hampstead,” he says.
Traditional communities, such as the Irish, are moving out of Kilburn, he adds. Middle-class English and Asian buyers are replacing them, along with a younger Jewish generation. “Their parents moved to suburbs like Radlett but the children are buying here because they want something trendier and less suburban.”
Both areas are predominantly Victorian, with terraced houses of varying shapes and sizes. Roads around Queen’s Park, which have mostly survived unscathed by wartime bombs or post-war development, are well-kept, with red-brick, two-storey family homes. Tree-lined Chevening Road has red-brick Victorian semi-detached houses with views over Queen’s Park. Streets off Tennyson Road by Willesden Lane cemetery have Victorian terraces, some converted into flats.
Lowdown on NW6
The area attracts: families looking for space and an easy journey to work; young professionals; BBC employees, plus other media workers and creative types; Asian families wanting to be close to the state-funded Islamia schools founded by Yusuf Islam (formerly the pop star Cat Stevens); buyers trading up to houses from flats in surrounding areas such as Hampstead, Notting Hill and Maida Vale.
Staying power: very good in Queen’s Park. Locals are prepared to invest a lot of time and energy in the area: they run an active residents association and organise community events. Louise Mason of Brondesbury Estates (020 7461 1000) says: “People move in and they stay. The residents association organises the Queen’s Park Day every September and there’s an Open Gardens Day.”
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Kilburn has a more transient population because it has more rented property, although Jason de Sousa of Ludlow Thompson (020 7604 5111) reports that more professionals are moving in and renting.
Best postcode: Kilburn and Queen’s Park are both in NW6, a postcode which also includes West Hampstead. One of the attractions for middle-class buyers moving to Queen’s Park in the early days of gentrification was that it shared a postcode with well-heeled West Hampstead but this is less relevant now Queen’s Park is well-established.
Best streets: The closer you are to Queen’s Park itself, the better, say agents. In the grid between Salusbury Road and Kingswood Avenue to the west of the park, the most prized streets include Summerfield Avenue and Windermere Avenue, where the Victorian visual unity is well-preserved without ugly post-war development.
Up-and-coming areas: The big dividing lines are Salusbury Road and Chamberlayne Road, which respectively mark the eastern and western boundaries of Queen’s Park. East of Salusbury Road, towards Kilburn, is cheaper than Queen’s Park. Check out roads in the grid between Priory Park Road and Tennyson Road for Victorian terraces. Kensal Rise to the west of Queen’s Park is also worth a look. Victorian properties in streets west of Chamberlayne Road are about 25 per cent cheaper than Queen’s Park
What’s new: Both Kilburn and Queen’s Park are built up and space is at a premium, so developments tend to be one-offs rather than large, new-build blocks. But there are some subtle changes to shops and streets as the
ripples of gentrification slide outwards from Queen’s Park into Kensal Rise, with locals remarking on the arrival of new gastropubs and smart shops in Chamberlayne Road and parallel College Road.
Schools: Brent council’s schools score well in league tables. Many residents are happy to send their children to state schools, including Salusbury Primary and Queen’s Park Community schools. Others opt for private schools in Highgate, Hampstead or Notting Hill.
Shops and restaurants: Salusbury Road, the main shopping street in Queen’s Park, has a great choice of delis, cafés and restaurants, as well as a Sunday farmers’ market at Salusbury Primary School, and the street is lined with independent shops. Kilburn High Road is tacky and trafficky but, says Alan Isaacs of the Queen’s Park Partnership, “it’s useful. You wouldn’t necessarily want to have a coffee there but it’s got an M&S food hall.”
Green space/culture: Queen’s Park, owned and run by the Corporation of London, is a beautifully kept focal point for community events. For a fascinating walk through Victorian history, sign up for a tour of Kensal Green cemetery and the catacombs. Kilburn’s Tricycle Theatre and Cinema is a haven of cool modernity off Kilburn High Road, showing critically rated and challenging plays based on modern-day events including the murder of Stephen Lawrence and the Army suicides at Deepcut Barracks.
Transport: Kilburn and Queen’s Park are ringed by Tube stations on the Bakerloo and Jubilee lines and the North London line stops at Kensal Rise on its journey through inner-north London suburbia.
Council: Brent (no overall control). Council tax band D: £1,367.
Average sale prices: NW6
One-bedroom flat: £266,573
Two-bedroom flat: £393,942
Two-bedroom house: £643,333
Three-bedroom house: £730,667
Four-bedroom house: £871,467
As in most parts of London, there is a shortage of property to rent, which is pushing rents up. Jason de Sousa of agents Ludlow Thompson says: “The advice is to grab a property you want before someone else does. Summer is our busiest time.”
Average lettings prices: NW6
One-bedroom flat: £250+pw
Two-bedroom flat: £300+pw
Three-bedroom house: £600+pw
Four-bedroom house: £700+pw
Photographs by Barry Phillips