How can you tell if a place is about to get seriously popular?
Well, there are a few signs that you can look out for; plenty of Victorian architecture; well-to-do neighbours; improving schools; green space; and a sudden proliferation of independent shops and restaurants. Kensal Rise in north west London ticks all of these boxes and, even though house prices have risen by 50 per cent in the last decade, they’re set to increase by even more.
“‘Kensal Rise is on the way up’ has been a statement made by estate agents for 20 years now, but it’s starting to show signs that this may finally come true,” says Marlon Lloyd Malcolm, head of sales at estate agent Lurot Brand.
He’s earmarked the area out as one that “fits a perfectly successful profile where one could get a property for under £1m that has a strong likelihood of rising to £2m in less than a decade.”
The unaffordablility of smart neighbours like Notting Hill and Queens Park are pushing families to the area, where they’re finding a good selection of Victorian and Edwardian conversions and 1930s family houses, with decent-sized gardens. Unlike those two areas, Kensal Rise isn’t home to a conservation area and all the planning restrictions that come with them, so it’s far easier to get permission for any ambitious extension projects you’ve got planned.
Foxtons, which has an office in nearby Willesden Green, says new build developments have diversified the housing stock in recent years, bringing professional buyers and investors to the area in larger numbers than ever before.
Prime Place on the corner of Chamberlayne Road and Kilburn Lane, is close to an impressive amount of sporting facilities at Moberly Sports Centre, such as a boxing gym, an 8-court sports hall and dance studios; planning permission has been granted for five new mews-style houses that should be completed over the next 18 months; and the Crossrail Committee has considered opening a new Elizabeth Line station nearby at the top of Ladbroke Grove.
The last time a new transport link opened up – the London Overground took over the North London Line at Kensal Rise ten years ago – the station saw passenger numbers increase from 200,000 to 1.7m a year. This earmarked the area out as one of the first genuinely gentrified places in the capital, according to David Fell, research analyst at Hamptons International.
“In the mid 1990s, it emerged as a hipster hangout, a decade before most of east London. Since then Kensal Rise has up and come, with prices going from being on par with the London average to 50 per cent above it. Today, new residents are more likely to be sporting a Bugaboo pushchair than a beard.”
Pop-up restaurants and artisan delis followed, and Chamberlayne Road was called ‘the hippest street in Europe’ by Vogue back in 2009. Though slightly dated, it’s an accolade oft-quoted by estate agents eager to tout the area’s cool credentials. In fact, you just need to stroll down the high street.
“It has a great selection of amenities, pubs restaurants that attract both locals and Londoners from across the capital,” says Foxtons’ Oliver Browne. “Paradise bar is the favourite late-night spot, while The Chamberlayne Pub and Steakhouse is the place to go for a drink and a bite to eat. The small and homely Ida is one of my personal favourites, serving authentic Italian food and another Italian restaurant, Rullos on Chamberlayne Road, is also very popular.”
It’s also worth mentioning that Daniel Craig lives there, and if it’s good enough for Bond...
It seems that heaven really is a place on earth if the name of popular club Paradise by Way of Kensal Green is to be taken at face value. The self-styled ‘home of the reckless and eclectic’ has a swanky restaurant, DJs every Friday and Saturday night and it throws a decent Notting Hill Carnival party, too. Sombre up at Kensal Green Cemetery, one of the oldest burial grounds in London, where Isambard Kingdom Brunel and Harold Pinter are buried. The Chamberlayne pub on the same road – ‘hippest road in Europe’ according to Vogue, don’t forget – is reopening today following a refurbishment. It specialises in steak with cuts direct from Smithfield Market. A newer addition is Parlour, serving British food with a Chef’s Table that seats seven offering a combination of art and food. There are lots of great Italian eats around but Sacro Cuore is a traditional Neapolitan pizzeria worth visiting.
House prices Source: Zoopla
Transport Source: TfL
Time to Canary Wharf: 35 mins
Time to Liverpool Street: 35 mins
Nearest tube station: Kensal Green
Best Roads Source: Hamptons International
Most Expensive: Dundonald Road: £1,612,583
Best Value: Robson Avenue: £420,583
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