Nowhere in London can be called “undiscovered”, yet, remarkably, there are always areas of the capital being re-discovered. This is what makes the city such a fascinating collection of property micro-markets.
Homebuyers on the look-out for a central up-and-coming area should investigate the triangle formed by Essex Road, New North Road and City Road, postcode N1.
In the middle of this little grouping is a remarkable find: a nine-acre canal basin, one of London’s largest enclosed water spaces, where 900 flats, offices, restaurants, bars, business barges, a hotel, a civic space and pleasure moorings are planned.
'A remarkable find, the basin area will have 900 new homes and business barges'
A neglected stretch of Regent’s Canal runs through this patch of N1, which, for several decades has been a district with no distinct identity. A faded street plaque denotes that in 1861 this area was part of the parish of Middlesex; today, it is emerging as a new residential quarter.
This is mainly because the development ripples spreading out from Islington and Shoreditch “sandwich” the area and are now meeting in the middle.
It is a typical inner-city neighbourhood — a mix of Georgian terraces, council estates, Victorian cottages, small business premises, industrial depots, canalside warehouses, factory lofts, a live-work community and new designer apartments. Development has taken hold and there is more to come including around the striking canal basin.
A huge message about the arrival and revival of this area is the penthouse homes planned for The Wenlock Building, a new canalside scheme. Penthouses start at £1 million. “They are penthouses in the truest sense: highly individual, glamorous with a top-notch specification and great views,” says Antony Crovella of developer Modern City Living. Call Chesterton on 020 7791 7071.
Angel Waterside is another canalside scheme. Two-bedroom flats are priced from £550,000. Developer Grove Manor Homes has also released a “premier” collection of flats priced from £855,000 to £2.5 million. Call 020 7359 5259.
Two-bedroom flats at The Jam, a new development of 56 homes on Nile Street, start at £435,000. Call 020 7613 4044.
The Factory and The Canal Building are two loft developments on Shepherdess Walk, around the corner from Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen restaurant. Redeveloped Gainsborough Studios, where Alfred Hitchcock made six films, is another arty enclave — a mixture of flats and workspaces.
Young career professionals working in the Square Mile (walkable in 15 minutes) and Shoreditch fashionistas are moving to this new district, says Carl Schmid of estate agent Fyfe McDade. “It’s seen as more cool than Upper Street, which has become too high-streety — with Gap, Starbucks and so on. There’s a hardcore element of Shoreditch residents who dislike ‘over-gentrified’ places. For them, a neighbourhood that’s too chi-chi, loses its edge.”
Shoreditch itself is a more polished place than it was a decade ago during the dotcom boom, when the first wave of creatives arrived.
Schmid adds: “The area used to be quite tatty, with backstreet workshops and importers working from shipping containers but it has smartened up and is now a much better place to live.” Boutiques, galleries and destination restaurants have opened; also Shoreditch House, an outpost of the trendy Soho members’ club, which occupies the top floor of a former tea warehouse.
An eye-catching new scheme is under way on Bethnal Green Road, moments from the new East London line station at Bishopsgate. Telford is building a 25-storey tower with 360 flats plus commercial space. Guide prices will be released in June. Call 01992 809800.
Shoreditch is where the City merges with the East End. The proximity of an affluent banking community has helped seed regeneration and led to an influx of cash on the boundary. Yet by central London standards, it is a relatively affordable location. Property prices have come off the boil during the past year, dropping from about £750 a square foot to £650 a square foot.
“There can be big price differences between addresses within a two-minute walk of each other,” says Schmid. The heartland around Hoxton commands the highest prices. The best lofts cost from £800,000.
On Old Street roundabout is a new landmark development called Bezier — 200 flats, most in two circular glazed towers. A protected terrace along Leonard Street is being converted into loft spaces. Prices from £345,000. Call DTZ on 020 7710 8037.