Focus on Islington: Arts and Arsenal in idyllic Islington

ISLINGTON, specifically the area stretching from Islington High Street to Highbury Fields, is alive with activity, drawing in the hustle and bustle of The Angel and the independent bars and restaurants of Upper Street. Famed as one of the longest high streets in London, Upper Street’s boutique shops, theatres and cinemas have made central Islington a prime destination for the arts – the Almeida Theatre, King’s Place and Sadler’s Wells are particular highlights.

Islington generally has a younger vibe than its western neighbour, Hampstead, as many parents from west London set their children up in the area. “We act for a lot of parents buying for children in Islington as it’s a similar price to areas such as Fulham, but it’s often seen as a little more ‘trendy’ and has better transport links into the City,” says Jo Eccles, managing director of consultancy firm Sourcing Property. “We also work with a lot of lawyer clients who can buy a big family house for £2m to £3m with a good-sized garden.

“Since the Eurostar started leaving from King’s Cross, we’ve also seen a French influx and we’ve acted for a number of clients who live in Islington during the week and then escape to Europe on the weekends.”

Many buyers are also drawn to the area to live in a period property. They make up a large proportion of homes in Islington, from the mixture of Victorian and Edwardian architecture in Highbury, to the grand Victorian villas of Canonbury, to the classic family terraces of Angel.

“Demand for period property in the area remains strong,” says Caspar-Harvard-Walls, partner at buyer and consultant Black Brick. “Buyers in these areas tend to be families with one or more established professionals like lawyers, bankers, and accountants working in the City of London.”

But this doesn’t mean there’s a lack of modern developments – the areas along Regent’s Canal have seen huge investment recently with new towers and apartment blocks being built every year since the announcement of the extension of the East London Line into Islington in 2010.

Figures from the Land Registry show a 10 per cent year-on-year increase in house prices for the last five years. According to research by agents Savills, prime values have almost doubled since 2008 and 80 per cent of homes were snapped up by UK buyers, even past the £2m mark.

Stacey Fletcher, from Cluttons’ Islington office, sees no reason why this shouldn’t continue into 2014. She says, “People are taking advantage of low interest rates. There is lots of demand but a lack of properties. We’ve started doing viewings at weekends and buyers are offering above the asking price as soon as they walk through the front door to take properties off the market.”

10 REASONS TO MOVE TO THE AREA

1 Arsenal fans will be on the doorstep of their home ground, The Emirates, the UK's third-largest football stadium in England, which can seat up to 60,361 people.

2 The Old Red Lion Theatre, above a pub of the same name, has a long tradition in art and theatre, and it prides itself on showcasing emerging talent.

3 Camden Passage, just off Upper Street, is home to one of London’s oldest antique markets. It was founded in 1960 and it’s a great local alternative to Portobello Road.

4 The Hen and Chickens Theatre has seen arena-selling comedians such as Russell Brand and Jimmy Carr grace its stage. Acts are lovingly dubbed “The Chicks”.

5 Take a serene afternoon walk alongside New River. The artificial waterway was first created to bring fresh drinking water from Hertfordshire to the people of London.

6 This Victorian ice warehouse was converted into the London Canal Museum in 1992 and now it’s an educational day out to learn about London’s waterways.

7 Islington Farmers’ Market, tucked between Baron Street and Penton Street, is one of London’s most well-established farmers’ markets for ardent foodies.

8 The Almeida Theatre started life as a scientific and literary society. The theatre is now home to the American Psycho musical starring Doctor Who retiree Matt Smith.

9 Union Chapel, a Grade-II listed church, is a non-conformist place of worship, an award-winning live music venue and a crisis centre for the homeless.

10 Screen on the Green is one of London’s oldest cinemas. This single-screener is known for its jars of sweets, butter-drenched popcorn, and retro allure.