The commonly conjured image of Camden is an edgy one, grotty around the edges but teeming with cultural life.
So it may surprise some to discover that the number of independent retailers in Camden Town is lower than the London average. Admittedly, it’s not much lower – 67 per cent, compared to the city average of 69 per cent – but still, it’s a sign of the changing perceptions and fortunes of NW1.
“While it still trades on its alternative roots, NW1 has seen an influx of new money, with homes today more likely to be bought by accountants than artists,” says David Fell, research analyst at estate agent Hamptons International.
There’s a growing international student market, too, thanks to the world-beating credentials of University College London, the Royal Veterinary College and Camden School for Girls, which is, in turn, putting Camden’s housing market on the international map.
“In recent years, there’s been an uplift in French buyers,” says Peter Rosen, from Savills’ Primrose Hill office. “Parents school their children at the College Francais Bilingue de Londres in Kentish Town and can reach Paris via the Eurostar terminal at St Pancras in a little over two hours.”
Yet, since Britain’s vote to leave the European Union last year, it’s largely domestic buyers and sellers dominating the market, meaning this may be a wise time to buy. Emlyn Parks, from Chestertons in Camden Town says the house price downturn hasn’t been “as aggressive” as in other central London areas, but “prices have seen a 5-8 per cent overall reduction.”
When it comes to British buyers, they tend to be drawn to the area’s famous nightlife, but also it’s Victorian and Georgian terraces. It’s also one of the few places you’ll find streets of mews houses outside of central London. Artists were moving into Camden in the 1960s when period properties were deeply unfashionable.
Now, however, Foxtons in Camden reckons a two bedroom conversion flat starts from £650,000, while a family house is easily £1.5m.
Over on the rental side, Simon Gerrard, MD at Martyn Gerrard, says a two bed flat will set you back £1,900pcm, while houses start at £4,000pcm. Political uncertainty has also led to a dip in rents, but “as we gear up to what is traditionally the busiest time of the year for the housing market, rents are showing positive signs of recovery.”
While it still trades on its alternative roots, NW1 has seen an influx of new money, with homes today more likely to be bought by accountants than artists
And with new infrastructure and housing on the way, there’s plenty to look forward to. Following two major fires in recent years, tech billionaire Teddy Sagi is investing millions in the regeneration of Camden Market, while Barratt London has plans for 700 new homes, restaurants and offices on the site of a Morrisons supermarket.
Warehouse flats in Jim Henson’s former Muppet Factory overlooking Regent’s Canal sell for around £1.25m, while Richie Tramontana, from Red Property Partnership, says flats at The Lock House that initially sold for £600psqft are now going for double that amount.
“The new buzz areas of Camden are spread from Gilbey’s Yard, Camden Markets, following the Regent’s Canal towards King’s Cross,” he says. “Over recent years, some fantastic residential and commercial opportunities have also sprung along Oval Road and Jamestown Road.”
As the area continues to develop, and with the prospect of Crossrail Two at either Euston or King’s Cross, it’ll only add to the existing Overground and Underground links, and Camden’s enduring appeal.
In Camden, there’s almost too much to choose from. Camden Lock Market is a good place to start, though. After another blaze tore through it in July, it’s more important than ever to get down to its 1,000 streets and market stalls and support a vibrant fashion, art and food community. Further down the road is another classic, The Jazz Cafe, an intimate live music venue that showcases local talent as well as international stars. The Roundhouse is another cherished music and arts venue in a Grade II Listed former railway station. For a bite to eat, Odette’s might be closer to Primrose Hill, but it’s a romantic setting with a beautiful garden a stone’s throw away from the centre of Camden Town serving modern British cuisine. The Jewish Museum is a fascinating historical landmark with a re-created Victorian Jewish Quarter inside. And for something a bit newer with a kitsch kick, why not give Trufflesecco a go? That’s right, it’s prosecco and Italian food covered in truffles. Belissimo!
House prices Source: Zoopla
Transport Source: TfL
Time to King’s Cross: 4 mins
Time to Liverpool Street: 18 mins
Nearest train station: Camden Town
Best roads Source: Hamptons International
Most Expensive: Gloucester Cres.: £2,374, 600
Best Value: Camden High Street: £298,450
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