For the residents of Wood Green and Bounds Green, the nightmare of sitting in solid traffic jams on the North Circular Road at its junction with Bounds Green Road is about to end.
Transport for London is just finishing a £59 million two-year improvement plan that will bring a smoother traffic flow, new bike lanes and an end to rat runs, as well as some much-needed environmental improvements.
Wood Green, Bounds Green and Bowes Park are three close neighbours sitting just inside the busy North Circular.
The area is characterised by the gaudy Wood Green shopping centre and roads of affordable Victorian terraces, but there are also conservation areas and well-designed cottages to be found. And like so many places on the Piccadilly line, Bounds Green has an attractive art deco station that was listed two years ago.
This is a good place to look for a family house or a flat conversion in a protected conservation area. The Wood Green Common and the adjoining Trinity Gardens conservation areas - north west of Wood Green station - contain streets of Victorian and Edwardian terrace houses which are separated by attractive green open spaces. Houses here sell for between £400,000 and £500,000.
Sue Barker and Greg Rusedski opened the tennis courts at the Albert Road Recreation Ground in Bounds Green. © Glenn Copus
Bowes Park was one of the first areas to be developed. It is situated between Bounds Green Road and Wood Green High Road, where there are flat-fronted early Victorian houses and a well-preserved local high street along Myddleton Road.
The Bowes Park Community Association is an active community group with its own website. Much of Bowes Park and Bounds Green was developed by the Victorian Liberal MP, Alderman Thomas Sidney, which explains why many of the roads such as Melbourne Avenue, Spencer Avenue, Palmerston Road and Russell Road are named after Liberal politicians.
Between Telford Road and Brownlow Road there are terraces of larger Victorian houses, similar in design to those in Muswell Hill with decorative gables, pretty porches and balconies. House prices here range from £400,000 to £550,000, a fraction of the price of similar homes in Muswell Hill.
The area attracts: young professionals looking for value for money flock here. According to estate agent Andrew Hunt, from Kinleigh Folkard & Hayward, it is possible to buy a house here for the same prices as a flat in Alexandra Park or Muswell Hill.
Staying power: Bowes Park has a strong community spirit, but families looking for larger houses and better schools often move out of the area.
Renting: tenants are mainly commuting families wanting houses. Carla Ingram, lettings manager at Kinleigh Folkard & Hayward, says that she has recently dealt with one family who rented out their own house and moved to a large rented house in the area because they couldn’t afford to buy a larger house.
Postcodes: N22 is the Wood Green postcode and also covers Bowes Park and parts of Bounds Green; the more desirable N11 New Southgate postcode covers parts of Bounds Green but also Friern Barnet and Arnos Grove.
Best roads: Maidstone Road and Shrewsbury Road.
What’s new: Notting Hill Housing is renovating 250 mainly three-bedroom houses which were blighted by earlier plans to widen the North Circular at Bounds Green. The houses will be for affordable rent, but Notting Hill has plans to build some new homes, too.
Princess Park Manor (020 8361 2424), a former asylum in nearby Friern Barnet, has been converted into 279 flats and 150 penthouses by Comer Homes. Set in 30 acres, there is a pool, restaurant and tennis courts. Flats range from £395,000 to £699,950 and penthouses from £699,950 to £2.5 million.
Up and coming: Wood Green and Bounds Green are undervalued and once the works on the North Circular are complete, the area’s property market should receive a boost.
Schools: parents struggle to find top-performing state schools. The only two primary schools judged “outstanding” by the Government’s schools watchdog, Ofsted, are Belmont Infants and Juniors in Rusper Road in Wood Green and Bowes Primary in Bowes Road, Bounds Green.
Heartlands High in Station Road (co-ed ages 11 to 16), Wood Green, is a new comprehensive which only opened in September 2010, so the jury is still out. One of the first academies, Greig City Academy (co-ed ages 11 to 18) in High Street in nearby Hornsey is now judged “good”, but St Thomas More RC (co-ed ages 11 to 18) in Glendale Avenue is only judged to be “satisfactory”. The Greek Secondary School of London (co-ed ages 12 to 18) in Bounds Green Road is a private school which serves the local Greek-speaking community.
Shops and restaurants: Wood Green has a busy shopping centre and it is a good place to look for fashion bargains, with a big Primark and branches of Matalan, Peacocks and New Look.
The local Cypriot community, both Greek and Turkish, run corner shops throughout the area with splendid displays of fresh fruit and vegetables.
There are local shops along Myddleton Road, with many original shop fronts, including one of London’s oddest shops, George Moore, where the window still displays stock with old pounds, shillings and pence price tags. Locals are pinning their hopes on The Steps, a new coffee bar, gallery and bar, which is opening soon with the stated aim of kick-starting the regeneration of the street. Vrisaki is a popular Greek restaurant on the same street. The Ranelagh on Bounds Green Road is the best local pub.
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Open spaces: there are lots of small areas of green dotted around both Wood Green and Bounds Green; Alexandra Palace park is close by.
Leisure and the arts: the nearest council-owned swimming pools are the Arnos Pool in Bowes Road and at the Park Road Leisure Centre in Hornsey. Wood Green is well-served with cinemas, having both Vue and Cineworld multiplexes.
Travel: proximity to the North Circular offers access to the M1 motorway. Wood Green and Bounds Green are both on the Piccadilly line, with many commuters changing at Finsbury Park for fast Victoria line trains into central London.
There are overground trains from Bowes Park and Alexandra Palace to Moorgate. Wood Green and Alexandra Palace are in Zone 3; Bounds Green and Bowes Park on the boundary of Zones 3 and 4; an annual travelcard from Zone 3 to Zone 1 is £1,368.
Council: Wood Green, Bowes Park and most of Bounds Green are in Haringey (Labour-controlled), and the Band D council tax for 2011/2012 is £1,494.14. The rest of Bounds Green is in Enfield (Labour-controlled). The Band D council tax there for 2011/2012 is set at £1,410.16.