Regeneration rippling out from the Olympic zone in Stratford is touching areas previously out of bounds to homebuyers.
Arguably, now is a good time to put down roots in these low-profile districts, ahead of the 2012 Games, when the glare of publicity and the "legacy benefits" of improved amenities and infrastructure are expected to boost property values.
One such place is the Lea Valley, where the River Lea and a rejuvenated canal system flow past Victoria Park and Hackney Marshes before reaching the nature reserves and giant reservoirs at Tottenham Hale. In effect, it is a "regional country park" sprinkled with reminders of the city's industrial past.
Factories, mills and warehouses are being redeveloped and the waterfront is being opened up for recreational use. Already, the upgraded towpath of the Lea Navigation has become a busy cycle and pedestrian route into Docklands.
Industrial eyesores remain, yet this is a remarkably green swathe of the capital, with its parks and unexpected conservation areas.
The attractive and hilly Springfield Park neighbourhood in Upper Clapton includes a marina and a rowing club on the River Lea. Imaginatively named Paradise Park, a scheme of 132 flats on a 2.5-acre site alongside the River Lea and picturesque Millfields recreation ground, sounds like a marketer's creation but steals its title from a Victorian dock built at the height of the Empire to serve a glassworks, Indian rubber factory and carbolic acid plant. These manufacturing businesses have long since gone but the rescued listed buildings have been converted into work studios, while one has become a museum.
New apartment blocks overlook a "mock" dock and have decked terraces projecting out over the water. The architecture is modern and fits inoffensively into the leafy setting. Many of the apartments have a decent-sized balcony with views through the trees to the river, and the smart interiors would not be out of place in trendier parts of inner London.
Next to the development are two waterside pubs, one a Sunday jazz venue. Prices start at £199,950. Call Vision Homes on 0845 838 2088.
'Factories, mills and warehouses are being redeveloped and the waterfront is being opened up for recreational purposes'
Smart new signposts (part of the Olympic dividend) on the towpath next to Paradise Park reveal this as part of the Capital Ring walk. The Olympic village is about a mile away. New River, another significant local waterway, feeds reservoirs at Finsbury Park and Hornsey.
Woodberry Park, overlooking 50 acres of tranquil open water, is a redevelopment of a former council estate (one of the UK's largest) that will eventually have 4,600 new homes — a mix of open-market and affordable properties, including some for shared ownership.
Berkeley Homes is building the first phase of 298 private apartments in a new 27-storey tower providing views of Canary Wharf and the City.
A green route
New River is a green route running through Woodberry Park and will connect with a new town square and landscaped open spaces. Prices from £240,000. Call 020 8985 9918. Affordable homes will be available later through Genesis housing association.
Another major housing project, City North, is coming to the area. This comprises a pair of 21-storey skyscrapers on a former industrial estate alongside Finsbury Park station (in Zone 2, so handy for central London). There will be 355 homes, including apartments for families, plus offices, restaurants and shops. CABE, the Government's architectural watchdog, calls it an "elegant addition to the skyline".
It will be a new hub bordering the local Victorian park, which is bigger than St James's Park and Green Park combined and has been restored with Heritage Lottery funding.
Going east into Hackney, Queensbridge Quarter, bordering London Fields, has 151 properties, including 27 houses, a contemporary take on traditional terrace properties. Houses have up to four bedrooms, floor-to-ceiling windows at front and rear that throw in light, while interiors are opened up by a double-height stairwell with skylight.
Apartments start at £250,000 and houses start from £535,000. Call estate agent Fyfe McDade on 020 7613 4044. Dalston Junction, the new East London line station, is a 10-minute walk away.
Also close to London Fields is Arthaus, which was a commercial laundry, then a fur warehouse, and until 2002 incorporated the influential Flowers East art gallery. Today, the redeveloped factory has 45 apartments, three town houses, a gallery, studio space for creatives and is also headquarters for art storage experts Momart.
Behind the restored brick façade of the Thirties building is a dashing new interior with full-height atrium and a hotel-style lobby that doubles as café and exhibition space. Open corridors overlook this central core and provide access to apartments with custommade kitchens and bathrooms.
And modern art, too
Just unveiled is a show home displaying £100,000 of modern art. There is underground parking, round-the-clock concierge service, residents' entertainment suite for parties and private screenings, a communal roof garden and refrigerated storage rooms for internet food drops. Prices start at £285,000, rising to £850,000 for a five-bedroom house. Call 0800 043 2523.
Hornsey, a defunct old London borough, is rediscovering itself after being swallowed up in 1965 by the then newly created Haringey. Now it is back on the radar as a destination for homebuyers. New River Village, a former waterworks turned into a new estate of 467 flats, has been the catalyst.
The scheme runs alongside the New River and nestles up against the grounds of Ally Pally. Architecture is crisp and modern: a series of low-rise apartment blocks with brightly coloured render and glazed sections. A Victorian pumping station has been turned into a restaurant and art gallery, and there is an on-site gym and concierge service. Fyfe Building, the final phase of apartments, will be released soon. Prices from £249,950. Call Currell on 020 7226 4200. Resales available through Foxtons (0800 369 8667).