THERE aren’t many areas of London where less than a million pounds can get you an original Victorian house with four bedrooms, close access to three parks, independent shops and a commute under 20 minutes. In London Fields, however, the asking price for such a lifestyle is often no more than £800,000.
Despite its trendy image, Hackney properties have until recently remained off-limits for many professionals due to the perception that the area lacks transport links and up-market shops. Since last autumn, this has been changing. Local estate agent Nick Blake of Blake Stanley says that property prices are this year on track for a 15 per cent annual rise in value and, barring a double-dip, he sees no reason why this won’t continue. “When we opened eight years ago there were a lot of graphic designers and fashion designers and very few City bobbies. Now, at the bus stop in the morning you see suits,” he says.
One of the main draws of the area is Broadway Market, a Saturday event frequented by over 8,000 people each week and laid out in the manner of a traditional village farmers market along the area’s main high street. For variety it matches, if not exceeds, Borough, and for atmosphere – jammed between Regents Canal and London Fields park – it wins hands down.
Aside from the market, another major attraction is the multitude of green space, from Hackney Downs to Haggerston Park and the sprawling Victoria Park. London Fields park is also home to the lido, a heated, outdoor, Olympic-sized swimming pool that has become a destination in itself. And the area has an appealing array of shops, with independent designers and cafes popping up all the time.
This flourishing is, in part, due to the recent opening of the east London line extension. Having been operational only a month, the extension has opened up swathes of Hackney to the Docklands Light Railway at Shadwell from which it’s three minutes to Bank and seven to Canary Wharf. Buyers have begun flocking into London Fields and snapping up brick townhouses and original converted apartments in old factories and schools. Many have gardens, roof terraces and enough bedrooms for a sizeable family.
The only downside is that when you find your dream property, there’s a good chance you could find yourself in a bidding war with several other buyers. Agents report that the main problem is that no one wants to move out of the area. The prospect of a capital gains tax rise has prompted a small glut of properties coming to the market, however, so interested buyers should move quickly. With prices shooting up, even a bidding war could be worth the investment.
BROWNLOW ROAD FREEHOLD
This beautiful, three-storey, semi-detached house boasts both a roof terrace and a garden as well as five bedrooms and three bathrooms. It benefits from large, sunny windows and sloping attic ceilings on the top floor. It is located just north of Regents Canal, a short walk from Broadway Market, London Fields and Haggerston Station. Contact: 020 7254 7554. www.blakestanley.co.uk
RICHMOND ROAD FREEHOLD
A substantial Grade II-listed four-storey early Victorian residence, beautifully decorated by the present owners and with a spacious kitchen/reception room. One of the four bedrooms is a master suite occupying the entire first floor. The landscaped garden extends 95ft. Contact: 020 7241 4111. www.currell.com
ALBION TERRACE FREEHOLD
Just a quarter of a mile from London Fields station, this three-storey Victorian house offers modern accommodation yet still retains many original features. It has three bedrooms, three bathrooms and its location just off Albion Square provides easy access to Broadway Market. Contact: 020 7241 4111. www.currell.com
A stylish space full of character, this one bedroom apartment includes a mezzanine bedroom, high ceilings and double-height windows in this gorgeous old school building. The decor boasts wooden floors and exposed brick. A short walk to London Fields or Dalston Junction. Contact: 020 7275 7505. www.daveystone.com
FOREST ROAD FREEHOLD
This superb detached house boasts spacious living space and an impressive 47ft garden. The property is set over three large floors comprising two reception rooms, a family room, a large kitchen, five bedrooms, two bathrooms, separate side access (perfect for bikes), and a cellar. Contact: 020 7704 5000. www.foxtons.co.uk