Focus On Holborn: Lawyers, financial professionals and international students are fundamentally changing WC2

 
Melissa York
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Sicilian Avenue in Holborn

If you work in the legal profession, you probably practically live in Holborn already. Home to prestigious legal chambers and the Royal Courts of Justice, it’s lawyer central in this Zone One hotspot and there are plenty of insurers around, too.

Perhaps that’s why, for several years, buyers simply haven’t seen it as a place to live and, despite its central location and great transport links, prices have been depressed.

But all that is changing. As new work hubs open up to the south of the river and more companies deem it acceptable to move to cheaper climes in Fitzrovia, residential developers have been waiting in the wings.

As leases on 1920s office buildings run out, developers have been moving in, converting the Victorian and Georgian terraces into smart pied-a-terres and high end student housing.

“While a large proportion of Holborn is made up of quiet streets lined with Georgian town houses, over the past five to 10 years, a number of commercial buildings within the WC1 boundary have been transformed into luxury residential apartments. This has changed the demographic and the atmosphere of the area significantly,” says James Blackler, Foxtons’ West End office sales manager.

As a result, there’s significantly more to do in the area, especially at the weekends. Lamb’s Conduit Street, a pedestrianised shopping quarter, boasts a number of community-minded boutiques, cafes and historic pubs, and any high street shopping can be done in the nearby Brunswick Centre, which is also home to a Curzon art house cinema.

Many locals also hold British Museum membership so they can avoid the crowds at exhibitions and work in the members’ lounge overlooking the refurbished Great Court.

Read more: Focus On Orpington

Only a 10 minute walk from Covent Garden, the area does have a cultural heritage, having been home to Charles Dickens and artist William Morris. An impressive 24 restaurants have opened up in the area in the last four years, bringing the total number of eateries up to 158.

By and large though, it’s largely lawyers and financiers looking for a short commute in on the Central Line that gravitate towards Holborn. Merlin Dormer, from property search agents Heaton & Partners says family houses in streets like Bedford Row are particularly popular with this crowd.

“A partner of Heaton & Partners recently acquired a flat for a lawyer relocating from Hong Kong for £2.1m in a modern building last year and a flat in Doughty Street for an Australian judge and his family.”


Sir John Soanes Museum

Still, for the Zone One location, the average price sits around £800,000, with 27 per cent of sales surpassing the £1m mark last year, down from 34 per cent on the previous year, according to research analyst David Fell at Hamptons International. His data also shows that the most expensive property sold in Holborn was a terrace in Lincoln’s Inn Fields that went for £11.55m in 2016.

Another significant demographic is international students. “Holborn is very popular with buy-to-let landlords as the area commands high rents from international students attending LSE, King’s College and UCL who want to be within a short walking distance of their university.

Parents paying would rather they had a short 5-10min walk each day than have them travel in by Tube,” says James Simmons, lettings director at Dexters Bloomsbury. As a result, rental yields are much higher than in other parts of the capital, with Simmons putting average rent for a two bed flat around £600 a week.

Chris Rowe from KFH also says overseas investment and Brexit has fuelled the sudden influx in residential investment. “The drop in sterling, combined with its position between Crossrail hubs make Holborn a prime target for buyers and investors.”


The Hoxton hotel

Area highlights

Nestled in among the grandeur of the Rosewood Hotel is Scarfes Bar, a thoroughly upholstered throwback to 1920s glamour. It serves up whiskies, cocktails, curries and live jazz. The perfect night out, basically. Also in the Rosewood is Holborn Dining Rooms, an elegant space bedecked with chandeliers serving up a traditional British menu. During the week from 10am to 2pm, pop down to Leather Lane market, a down-to-earth spot where you can get a bargain on everything from fresh fruit and veg to rucksacks and batteries. For a great remote working spot, head to The Hoxton Hotel, which rather confusingly is on High Holborn. The ground floor has free wifi, power points and comfy sofas aplenty. There are lots of great pubs in the area but local favourites include The Old Mitre, Cittie of York and The Lamb, which does a particularly delicious Sunday roast.

Area guide

House prices Source: Zoopla

Detached
£2.856m

Semi
£1.975m

Terraced
£1.575m

Flats
£845,660

Transport Source: TfL

Time to King’s Cross: 4 mins

Time to Liverpool Street: 7 mins

Nearest train station: Holborn​

Best roads Source: Hamptons International

Most Expensive: Great James St: £2,932,125

Best Value: Boswell St: £543,750

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