Property: Hot Spot Victoria Park, East London: A tale of Victorian values

Adam Kay is a husband, a father and a triathlete. When he was scouring Bethnal Green for a flat, however, it was the last of these categories which proved the most influential - and St Agnes Close, off Gore Road, near Victoria Park fitted the bill.

A 300 acre park was yards from his front door, the City was just 10 minutes by bicycle, and the flat appealed for other reasons, too.

It is in a modern block that was specifically designed to maximise light, heat and privacy, and his freeholder doesn't bicker over repairs or otherwise exploit the tenants.

His property is one of many in the area owned by the Crown Estate. "I definitely have the best landlady in the country," says Mr Kay.

Marriage, a baby and a move to suburbia revealed that Victoria Park was also a good investment: "I paid pounds 60,000 in 1995. Last year it was re-evaluated for mortgage purposes at pounds 95,000," says Mr Kay.

Most London parks are bordered by residential roads. The boot-shaped Victoria Park, which extends from South Hackney into Tower Hamlets just east of Bethnal Green, has limited park-side housing, but there are compensations: two canals border the park, bringing waterside properties and warehouse conversions into the picture.

Just across the park, Well Street Common is encircled by handsome park- side homes. Victoria Park was a neglected, vandalised wreck in the Seventies and early Eighties, until Tower Hamlets council spruced it up. Private housing, where council estates used to be, further enhanced the quality of the area.

"Kingshold estate was the worst, and it and some other bad ones came down," notes Philip Castle, a director of Sovereign House estate agents. "Lauriston School is a highly regarded state secondary school," he adds, noting that the young professionals who are attracted to the area because of its proximity to the City include families as well as singles.

"But Victorian houses are scarce and expensive, usually available only when the occupier dies and the Crown Estate sells them off."

The best Victorian houses can sell for more than pounds 300,000, but flats are much cheaper: "The older properties are more fashionable and expensive, but generally one-bedroom conversions sell for pounds 60,000-pounds 70,000, and two bedrooms jump to pounds 110,000," declares Mr Castle. "Parkside is a nice local authority estate. Two- and three-bedroom flats are available there in the pounds 55,000-pounds 65,000 range."

At the eastern edge of the park, Cadogan Terrace backs on to a motorway, but even in this location pounds 300,000 might not be enough to buy a large family house.

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