First-time buyers writing a wish-list of favourite locations would invariably put Upper Street, Islington, at the top as a recognition of its incredible mix of bars, restaurants, shops, theatres and cinemas.
Islington, however, is one of the most expensive parts of the capital — recent research by Savills found property in the postcode costs £793 per sq ft, and the area has consistently outperformed most other London boroughs during the recession.
This is why affordable housing in N1 is rare. Nonetheless, Origin Housing is just about to launch Inspire, with 21 shared ownership flats close to the north end of Upper Street, and also within an easy stroll of Highbury Fields and Highbury & Islington Tube and Overground station.
Gareth Jones, Origin's development director, says: "Inspire has got everything on the doorstep and although it's a busy area, with the Emirates Stadium nearby, it is on Corsica Street, which is very quiet. It is a little haven."
The flats at Inspire (0800 068 8990; originsales.co.uk) are well-designed, with floor-to-ceiling windows and a private balcony or terrace. The development of 30 homes (nine are to be rented) will be ready by late summer.
However, by affordable housing scheme standards, they are not cheap. Prices start at £83,750 for a 25 per cent share of a one-bedroom apartment valued at £335,000.
Total monthly costs (including mortgage repayments, rental and service charge) will be around £1,193. Applicants need a minimum income of £32,338 a year to qualify.
Two-bedroom flats start at £110,000 for a 25 per cent share of a property worth £440,000, for which the total monthly costs will be around £1,500.
Jones says consideration has been paid to whether the properties are affordable to people on modest (by London standards) salaries. He anticipates that the larger flats will be bought by couples, and on that basis it is cheaper than renting locally.
While the share the new buyers will own is small, Jones believes there are plenty of people who will feel that the buzzy Islington location outweighs that disadvantage.
And when it comes to moving on, a property in such an area has the best chance of capital growth. "I think that is always a big motivation for people who don't want to carry on renting for ever," says Jones.
PIONEER IN CANNING TOWN
For home hunters wanting to pay a little less for a larger share, then Millennium Horizon, the latest offering from Notting Hill Home Ownership, could be just the thing.
It launched on June 23, with 30 one- and two-bedroom apartments within the multibillion-pound Canning Town and Custom House regeneration zone.
Eventually there will be 650 homes, plus shops and cafés on the site, and there are plans for 10,000 new homes in the wider area.
One-bedroom flats at Millennium Horizon (020 8357 4444; nhhg.org.uk) start at £76,000 for a 40 per cent share of a flat valued at £190,000; two-bedrooms start at £96,000 for a 40 per cent share of a flat valued at £240,000.
Many have balconies or terraces, and residents will be able to share a landscaped "podium" garden with great views across the City. There are also rooftop allotments.
LINKS TO THE CITY
Canning Town Station (Jubilee Line and DLR) is two stops from Canary Wharf so it would be nifty for City workers. The O2 Centre and London City Airport are 10 minutes away.
However, Canning Town has historically been one of the deprived parts of London. While the regeneration plans are impressive, buying into such a project is always something of a gamble, and the area will be a building site for many years to come.
At present, lifestyle facilities — shops, bars and restaurants — just aren't there. But Mark Vaughan, managing director of Notting Hill Home Ownership, believes the scheme represents a great opportunity.
"With its affordability, excellent transport links and modern specification, Millennium Horizon is set to be popular with City workers and London creatives looking to buy their first home in a relatively central, historic location," he said. "We expect these apartments to be in great demand."