The poor man's Hackney

From Broadwater Farm to bagels, Tottenham has come a long way in 15 years. The 1985 riot has not been forgotten, but the estate occupies only a modest plot of a region of London that is dominated by a massive network of reservoirs edged by parks, marshes and the River Lee.

Some inner-city areas not far from Tottenham, such as Islington and Hackney, have pockets of handsome period properties. Possessing lower-calibre housing stock, Tottenham's gentrification will be constrained for architectural if not social reasons. However, its parkland and waterways offer considerable consolation.

The northern section of Tottenham, mostly N17, is considerably more remote from the city centre than N15 to its immediate south. Underground and rail connections are much thinner here than in south Tottenham, but the high road is the A10, a straight line to the City and Liverpool Street Station.

The council estates which once blighted Tottenham now represent some of its choicest properties. "The Ferry Lane Estate is extremely popular, especially the flats that provide spectacular views of the reservoirs and of the river," says Clive Dickman, of Cousins estate agents. "And Tottenham Hale underground station is in walking distance or reachable by bus."

Also worth considering, says Mr Dickman, is the Tower Gardens Estate, a conservation area with many former council properties that lies north of Broadwater Farm across Lordship Lane. "It was built up over different time periods, from the turn of the century to the Twenties and then the Fifties, so it has different styles."

The Dowsett Estate, east of the high street, is pleasant and affordable. Housing extends eastward here up to a border formed by industrial sites, the marshes and the reservoirs. "It is pounds 10,000 cheaper here than in N15. For the money that would buy you a flat in N15, you could buy a small house here," says Mr Dickman.

Nearby is "the nicest part of Tottenham, off Bruce Grove, around Radley, Elmhurst, and Whitley Roads and Philip Lane north to Fore Street. There are small cottagey properties and some larger houses, some of them with five bedrooms," says Mr Dickman. "It is also the safest area."

The one area he would "avoid at all costs" is around Tottenham Hotspur Football Club, but cost is precisely the attraction of such neighbourhoods. To Mr Dickman, the particular plague here is congestion, although micturation and regurgitation might also have been mentioned.

Budget-conscious owner-occupiers find themselves forced to compete against hordes of investors for a limited supply of available properties.

"We are absolutely swamped by investors," says Mostafa Sbitri, of Duncan Phillips estate agents. "You get a good yield here. In six months I don't recall selling to a single end user."

Mr Sbitri notes that investors generally pay less than owner-occupiers, but "they are quite desperate and are willing to pay more, even close to end-user prices".

Ominously for owner-occupiers, Mr Sbitri thinks that many of these investors buy with the intention of letting their properties to the homeless on emergency bed and breakfast placement. Buyers still have to watch their step in Tottenham.

Robert Liebman