Legend has it that when Dick Whittington was on his way out of London, he reached Archway, heard the peal of the Bow Bells and decided to return to the capital.
Its reputation as a hinterland, a border, endured for centuries afterwards. Known originally as Highgate Archway – as in, the place you pass through on the way to that leafy, well-to-do village – it’s also the terminus for seven London bus routes.
In recent years, Archway has dropped Highgate and come into its own as a location, which is a sure sign of a bright future, according to the manager of Foxtons’ Crouch End office Vikki Broad. “Regeneration in the area has led to increased interest from buyers and tenants alike, with new developments and diverse amenities also coming to Archway.”
And they’ve been a long time coming, largely due to an unsightly high street and bad infrastructure. Its one-way gyratory system, installed in the 1970s, has been described by Boris Johnson no less as “a notorious, badly-designed relic.”
Transport for London has plans to bring some sanity back into the road network by creating two-way streets, cycle lanes, and improvements to Archway tube station all around a central piazza lined with new retail space.
Work is underway as part of TfL’s scheduled £4bn road modernisation and is due to be completed by 2017.
Property developers have already seen the potential of this location on the cross section of Zones Two and Three. Essential Living has invested heavily in Vantage Point, a build-to-rent scheme in a stripped out and re-cladded Archway Tower facing the newly pedestrianised square. The 17-storey former office block will house 118 flats designed for long-term rent with no letting fees and tenants get to customise their own interiors package. Round the corner, Family Mosaic has done up an old timberyard into 22 warehouse-style apartments selling for around £500,000 for a one bed.
Hamptons International reports that house price growth in Archway has increased by 29 per cent in the last five years. It also reports that 78 per cent of the high street comprises independent retailers, gaining three new restaurants and losing two bookmakers since 2012.
“The longstanding independent shops which colonise the town centre have survived the area’s changing fortunes and shape Archway’s character to this day,” notes David Fell, research analyst at Hamptons International.
With a diverse stock including Victorian terraces, Art Deco mansion blocks and ex-local authority homes, the two conservation areas to the north and the south of the tube are popular with buyers, especially families. “Access to the Northern Line from Archway Underground Station and highly regarded schools, including Whitehall Park School and Yerbury Primary School, hold particular appeal to young couples and families looking to buy in the area. Its relative affordability in comparison to nearby Camden and Angel makes Archway perfect for buyers with an expanding family,” Broad adds.
While it’s easy to see why domestic buyers are drawn in, agents say they’re still struggling to persuade buy-to-let investors, but the opportunity for high yields is there for the taking.
David Smith, director at local agent Martyn Gerrard says,“It’s not nearly as competitive an investor market as some areas – with most investors living locally – and so it could be an ideal area to look for hidden gems, or to concentrate on if you’re looking for a local and family friendly vibe.”
Described as “north London’s little treasure”, Archway Market trades on Holloway Road from 10am to 5pm every Saturday. Top traders include book stall Word on the Street and Beygout, specialising in textiles and jewellery, or pick up a bite to eat at Trini Hut or Raw Cheese Power. St John’s Tavern on Junction Road is a well-refurbished saloon bar scattered with framed portraits, serving refined British pub fare. As mentioned above, former Lord Mayor of London Dick Whittington has some previous in Archway, and a statue of his cat on Highgate Hill. Pat its head if you’re feline lucky. Not exactly in Archway but certainly within visiting distance on foot is Highgate Cemetery, where Karl Marx, poet Christina Rossetti, punk impresario Malcolm McClaren and Hitchhiker’s Guide author Douglas Adams reside. The National Youth Theatre, a charity that’s trained the likes of Dame Helen Mirren and Daniel Craig, is also close by.