For most people, north London covers all of the bases when it comes to housing choice: there are smart City-fringe neighbourhoods, leafy Georgian squares, trendy factory lofts, gentrified Victorian terraces, commanding high-ground suburbs, huge regeneration zones (notably King’s Cross), award-winning key worker homes, niche mews developments and gaudy mega-mansions (Bishops Avenue).
A spate of new-builds is adding another much-needed category — affordable shared-ownership homes for those unable to buy outright.
Several new schemes in the fashionable Islington heartland have been unveiled while old industrial sites such as Hornsey Gas Works, Wood Green, where 1,080 homes are planned, are being transformed into eco-friendly addresses.
A hidden canal basin behind Angel Tube station is opening up a new residential quarter. Young City professionals are the mainstay of this new district, says Nick Davies of estate agent Stirling Ackroyd. “They like the funky apartment buildings and being able to walk to work. And prices are a little cheaper because the area is in transition.”
Reflections, a 14-storey tower with 50 apartments, is the first building to come on stream in the canal basin. Prices start at £94,000 for the minimum 35 per cent share (full price, £270,000).
The same housing association developer has several other schemes in Highbury and Islington. These include shared ownership apartments on Goswell Road, between Angel and Clerkenwell, and Charleston Apartments at Axminster Road. Affordable homes are also for sale at Highbury Park, a prestige scheme of 143 apartments and family houses built around a Victorian mansion, and at Highbury Quadrant, next to Clissold Park. Prices from £82,250 for the minimum 35 per cent share. Call 020 7089 1315 or visit familymosaicsales.co.uk.
Islington Council itself has launched a shared ownership initiative, selling refurbished vacant council homes, mainly studios and one-bedroom flats, to singles earning at least £24,000 a year, and using the proceeds to build bigger homes for families to rent. Call 020 7527 7705 or visit firstname.lastname@example.org.
As a local key worker, primary school teacher Ciara Holland, 35, had priority under the scheme rules, and was able to buy a 40 per cent share (£80,000) of a King’s Cross flat valued at £200,000. Previously she had been in private rented accommodation in Holloway. “When I first heard about the council scheme I thought it wouldn’t apply to someone like me — but it did. Shared ownership is really the only way I can get on the property ladder in Islington. I have a 15-minute cycle ride to work and am so pleased that in a city of this size I can live and work in the same borough.”
Redevelopment of blighted railway lands at the back of King’s Cross station is seriously underway and the first of 2,000 new homes will be ready before the 2012 Olympics.
An entire new district (67 acres, with its own postcode — N1C) is being built and 40 per cent of the homes are “affordable”, a mix of shared ownership and rented units. The first 284 of these new homes will be released for sale later this year. To register, visitonehousinggroup.co.uk.
Queensland Road is the final phase of homes at the regeneration zone surrounding Arsenal FC’s Emirates stadium in Holloway, where 1,400 affordable properties have been built already. Barratt and L&Q housing association will be launching the first of 375 flats (off-plan) soon. Visit lqgroup.org.uk or barratthomes.co.uk.
The Junction, Palmers Green, is aimed at families. Apartments are built around a secure inner courtyard with a children’s play area and a communal garden. Prices from £53,125 for a 25 per cent share. Call 0800 068 8990 or visit originsales.co.uk.
New River is another significant north London waterway, feeding the giant reservoirs at Finsbury Park and Hornsey. Both the river and the main West Reservoir run alongside Woodberry Park, 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.
Berkeley Homes is building the first phase of 306 apartments in a new 27-storey tower. Prices from £232,500. Call 020 8985 9918.