London has close to 200 street markets, ranging from those with just a sprinkling of fruit and veg stalls, to famous tourist centres, to specialist flower and “artisan” food markets.
There are few nicer ways to spend a sunny morning than wandering along Columbia Road in Bethnal Green with an armful of flowers, or sorting trash from treasure at Chrisp Street, Poplar.
But would you want a house in one of these streets, dealing with the crowds, the noise, the early morning vans and late-night litter?
“It is ace,” says Abi Smith, 23, who has rented a flat on Chapel Market, a rare bubble of authenticity in the heart of Islington, since last summer. “It is full on but there is a sense of community and I know the traders, and there are some great characters.” She gets good deals on fruit and veg but she wishes the bloke who sings to his customers all day would learn some new songs.
Even Abi, an account executive for a public relations firm, finds it hard to cope with the 5.30am clatter, six days a week. But buyers on a budget could get a good deal. Simon Deen, head of new homes at Aston Chase estate agents, says homes in the middle of a market street are 10 to 15 per cent cheaper than similar properties a few streets away.
Fans of hustle and bustle
“Because of the noise and the fact that flats tend to be above commercial premises they work well for young buyers who like the activity and colour,” says Deen. He advises buyers seeking a better investmentto try a few streets away from well-known markets.
“Being near, rather than in a market adds value. It is a lifestyle thing, being able to stroll out on a Saturday and enjoy a market is a very nice thing to do.” Deen is talking about major markets such Camden and Portobello, which attract tens of thousands of visitors during a weekend.
A more civilised option is to buy near one of the weekly farmers’ markets spreading rapidly across London. They are smaller, quieter, and attract a different sort of shopper. Homes near Pimlico Road Farmers’ Market, for instance, will go up in value. Property developers are even creating marketplaces within some new developments as community space. Berkeley Homes is leading the way, introducing regular foodie markets at two of its current schemes.
Woodberry Down in Finsbury Park has few local shops but there are regular summer farmers’ market days, and as the scheme develops Berkeley plans to build a square with a weekly market. At Royal Arsenal Riverside, in Woolwich, residents began to organise a farmers’ market last year. The event now attracts more than 2,000 visitors per day, and, since March has been held fortnightly.
At Wembley, developer Quintain hosts a weekly Wednesday market in the aptly named Market Square. James Hyman, head of residential agency at Cluttons, said the concept is a win-win for local residents and developers.
“It is a very clever, sensible offering, and a lot more interesting than setting up a Tesco Metro, or whatever. It is an easy win, and it is something that will happen more and more. And traders can add stalls and make it an ever-more interesting place.”
A great market could have a transformative impact on local values. “Look at what Borough Market has done to an area that had nothing much 10 or 15 years ago,” says Hyman.
Broadway market is a Hackney hipster heaven
Over five or six years Broadway Market in Hackney has also been transformed, from a few tired stalls to a hipster heaven. Anne Currell, chief executive of Currell estate agents, believes prices in its immediate vicinity have increased by an extra “eight or nine” per cent above price rises in the rest of the area thanks to the high-profile market.
“It is not just the market, it is all the other things it supports — the boutique shops, the cafés and pubs.”
But like Aston Chase’s Simon Deen, Currell feels the best place to house hunt is not on the “front line” but a few streets back from the market. “When you are walking along the market it is easy to think that this would be a most amazing place to live. But I can’t imagine who would enjoy that early morning noise. The real value is within quarter of a mile. You still get the vibe, but you don’t get the disruption.”
However, while a two-bedroom flat near Broadway Market would cost an estimated £600,000 to £650,000, an identical home on the street itself would cost around £575,000 to £600,000. The saving might sweeten the pill.