The Hampstead-Highgate borders are a perfect place for Londoners who want to live in both town and country. With a 790-acre heath, two ancient villages, fashion boutiques and speciality shops, restaurants and ancient pubs, golf courses, noted schools and an architectural mix unmatched elsewhere in the capital, this leafy corner of north London, only 15 minutes from the West End, arguably has it all.
Hence the roll-call of illustrious past residents (celebrated by the many blue plaques) and the continuing draw it holds for a wide variety of buyers from pop stars and Premiership footballers to the rich and richer.
But it is a place for “normal” people, too, especially families occupying modest homes in tucked-away corners of Hampstead Garden Suburb or the many Victorian terraces radiating from the Heath.
Of course, The Bishops Avenue is the famous millionaires’ row. Very bling and dismissed by snobs as a place where the vulgar nouveau compete on mansion sizes. There is historic truth in this but in recent years the upmarket thoroughfare has welcomed less bulging wallets with an outbreak of apartment schemes and some cool one-off houses.
At the less select East Finchley end of The Bishops Avenue, a redundant Victorian hospital sitting in two acres has made way for a tasteful scheme of 27 flats that are likely to strike a chord with both families and local downsizers.
Called Bishops Park, the gated development sits back from the road alongside a new timber-clad institute — a community facility built as part of the planning deal. Two low-rise red-brick apartment blocks echo the Arts and Crafts architecture of the surrounding Hampstead Garden Suburb conservation area.
Properties are large, lateral spaces — from about 1,780sq ft to 3,000sq ft — with three or four bedrooms, open-plan drawing room and French doors opening on to terrace or balcony.
Each home comes with two underground parking spaces and a storage room. High-quality finishes include rich walnut floors, marble lined bathrooms, custom-made Woodcraft kitchens, limestone fireplaces, lacquered wardrobes, silk wallpaper and mood lighting. All in all, it is a classy and understated look. Prices start at £1.75 million. Call Glentree on 020 8458 7311.
“They are houses on one floor, which a lot of people prefer,” says Trevor Abramsohn of Glentree. “When you take out space normally used for stairs, 1,800 sq ft equates to about 2,800 sq ft. Also, apartments are not as high-maintenance as a house and the security is better.”
A former car showroom in Lyttelton Road is being transformed into a mixed commercial and residential scheme called Market Place. This little patch is an improving local shopping hub for Hampstead Garden Suburb residents. There are 14 two-bedroom apartments, priced from £850,000. Call Glentree, as above.
Kenwood Place occupies an elevated position right on the edge of the heath and offers splendid views across London. It is a scheme of 21 grand apartments in the 10-acre grounds of a former stately home — a semi-rural enclave in its own right.
Apartments will be in three clean-cut, cube-like blocks, built in Modernist-style architecture and each with either dual, triple or quadruple aspect. The large window panels have external metal shutters, electronically operated. It is a luxury specification, with prices to match — from £2.1 million to £6 million. Call 020 8731 9500.
Jersey House is the latest new monster mansion in The Bishops Avenue, providing 20,000sq ft of living space. The master bedroom suite alone is bigger than most normal houses and there are even two kitchens — a “domestic” one and a professional, catering-standard one to provide food for entertaining on a grand scale.
Designed in classical style, it is a lavish though somewhat sterile-looking residence, on the market for a mere £45 million. The credit crunch has narrowed the field of buyers, admits Glentree, but sterling’s slide against the dollar and euro makes the property more attractive to overseas buyers.
Harrison Varma is a local husband-and-wife development duo who specialise in building one-off modern houses on infill plots. Their latest creation is Grange View, a 7,600sq ft timber, glass and brick villa in View Road, Highgate.
The couple started out 10 years ago after gutting and remodelling a family home for themselves and have since grown their business on the back of demand from affluent City workers. Their trademark is glamorous interior design that fits with relaxed modern lifestyles. They use bespoke carpentry, hi-tech systems for lighting, heating and audio-visual entertainment, and provide creature comforts such as luxury dressing rooms. The house costs £8.95 million. Call Savills on 020 7016 3855.