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Focus On Holloway: How the area went from "no-go area" to a thriving hotspot for independent businesses

Melissa York
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A pizza from Zia Lucia in Holloway

Holloway may be one of the oldest neighbourhoods in north London, but it hasn’t always been popular.

Londoners who weren’t Arsenal fans might only pass through to get on to the M1 and its infamous women’s prison on Parkhurst Road hardly does wonders for its reputation. For a long time, its only cultural claim to fame was The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, written by Douglas Adams in a house on Kingsdown Road.

“Look back a decade and Holloway was a no-go area,” says Rupert Cattell, founder of online estate agent OwnerSellers.com. But, in the Nobel prize-winning words of Bob Dylan, times they are a-changin’. The opening of the Emirates Stadium in 2006 kick started a regeneration project to transform some 60 acres in N7 and N5, bringing new business and 3,000 homes to the area.

And nowhere is this more apparent than on Holloway Road, the main artery that runs through the area. “The two mile road is home to the third largest concentration of independent retailers in the capital and its diverse mix of shops closely reflects the area’s changing fortunes,” says David Fell, research analyst at estate agent Hamptons International.


Daniel Libeskind's Orien Building in Holloway

“It runs through the heart of Holloway and marks where the development of North London began in the 1820s. Architects from every era have since made their mark leaving five storey Victorian townhouses jostling for space with 1960s offices and 90s flats.”

You can chart this change in the area’s landmarks, from the Victorian prison, to the grand Odeon cinema bombed during WWII to the brutalist modernity of Daniel Libeskind’s London Metropolitan University building.

The proliferation of restaurants along Holloway Road has led to it being described as an extension of Upper Street in Angel. Alex Leigh, a local Foxtons agent, says independent cafes like The Barn and Le Peche Mignon, pizzeria Zia Lucia and vegan, gluten-free dessert shop Cookies and Scream are changing perceptions and bringing new people to the area.

For the prospective homeowner, there’s a home to suit almost every taste and it’s much cheaper than its neighbours. People who would normally be house-hunting in Islington and Highbury “are now looking at Holloway as a very good value alternative where they can get more for their money,” according to buying consultant Jamie Burnhope from Black Brick.

Read more: Focus On Earl's Court – around 7,500 new homes coming by 2033

Young professionals and first time buyers are drawn to the area’s relative affordability as well as young families looking to upsize. One bedroom flats can be bought for around £350,000, but family houses, which rarely come up for sale, are in higher demand, tipping prices over the £1m mark.

Its period conversions, particularly in the area’s two main protected areas, prove the most popular with buyers, says Cattell. “Holloway has streets of period Victorian houses that attract young couples and growing families, and two main conservation areas: the Hillmarton conservation area off Caledonian Road, while the Mercers Road/Tavistock Terrace conservation area is in Upper Holloway boasting several open green spaces.”

Many contemporary homes are coming, too, with new developments dotted on and around Holloway Road and on the site of the now closed Holloway prison – killed off by George Osborne in his last Autumn Statement – which has the potential to provide 5,000 new homes.

The burgeoning property market in Holloway may be north London’s best kept secret, but it wasn’t one it could keep locked up for long.


Piebury Corner, north London's "gourmet pie deli"

Area Highlights

The neon-topped Savoy cinema on Holloway Road became The Coronet in 1979 then showed its last film four years later. Now, it’s a pub in the shadow of Emirates Stadium and probably one of the most architecturally-interesting Wetherspoons you’re likely to visit. Speaking of the Gunners, the 60,000 seater stadium is a huge draw for the area and has been undergoing an ‘Arsenalisation’ since 2009 to restore the football club’s history to the stadium. And what’s a football match without a meaty pie? Piebury Corner on Holloway Road sells 13 gourmet pies all named after Arsenal players. For a refreshing pint, head to Swimmer at the Grafton Arms, a high-ceilinged pub with a decent selection of real ales. Take the kids to a working urban farm on Sheringham Road – Freightliners City Farm is a small community run project with rare breed animals to visit and a bee hive.

Area Guide

House prices Source: Zoopla

DETACHED
£1.583m

SEMI
£1.67m

TERRACED
£1.397m

FLATS
£619,900

Transport Source: TfL

Most Expensive Road – Beacon Hill – £1,274,969

Best Value Road – Heddington Grove – £277,069

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