It's time you turned us into a hot property, Islington tells the makers of Monopoly

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The Independent Online

When Marjory Phillips dropped into the Angel of Islington pub in north London for lunch she could not have imagined the upset her decision would cause in years to come.

The year was 1935 and Ms Phillips, a secretary at the games manufacturer Waddington, had been asked to come up with a final list of places for the British version of the board game Monopoly. After an exhausting morning researching London property prices she arrived in Islington.

Ms Phillips jotted down the name of the pub, decided £100 was a fair price and settled down to enjoy her meal. Islington was for ever enshrined near the bottom of London's property ladder.

Sixty-five years later, the borough that spawned the chattering classes, nurtured Tony Blair during the long years of Labour's wilderness and where polenta (non-GM, naturally) and sun-dried tomatoes are the staple diet, wants recognition for its spiralling property prices, fashionable restaurants and exclusive antique shops.

Islington, residents claim, should move round the board and take the place of the orange properties - Marlborough Street, Vine Street and Bow Street. Jamie Cawley, of the Angel Neighbourhood Forum, said its place on the board should reflect Islington's new status. "It's very misleading. People feel it's somewhat derogatory of the area. I mean, places like the Whitechapel Road do remain a little questionable," he said of Islington's Monopoly next-door neighbour.

Mr Cawley, who in true Islington style has a job forming "focus groups for websites", was at pains to explain how Islington has changed. "The first time I visited the area 25 years ago it was the wildest utter East," he said, not without drama. "Robert Carrier had just opened a restaurant near the Angel and this was considered terribly bold and adventuresome. I had no idea where we were going. Now there are dozens of restaurants along Upper Street [the main street in the area] and many of them are exceedingly fashionable. Not to mention the fact that half the Government lives here."

Nor can the Angel of Islington be regarded as a cheap option. Last year its current owner, JD Wetherspoon, paid £100,000 to lease the building. But it's not just a question of money. Paul Williams, of Holden Matthews estate agents, is more unhappy with Islington's proximity to the Old Kent Road and Whitechapel Road.

"They are entirely different," he said. "London's perception of Islington has altered, it's now considered an established residential part of London along the lines of Notting Hill or Chelsea."

Richard Donnell, a research analyst at the property consultants FDP Savills, said he would now put the cost of a three-bedroom terrace house in the area at £600,000. By rights this should move it from the cheapest of the blue properties to replace Marlborough Street - bang in the middle of orange.

According to Mr Donnell's figures, the final leg of the board would remain unchanged, with the exclusive green of Regent Street and the rich purple of Park Lane still among the priciest areas of the city. Mayfair, top of the list at 22, is still the most expensive property, up from the board's £400 to £2.5m. And the drab brown of the Old Kent and Whitechapel Roads still know their place - at the bottom.

But in between things have changed. Northumberland Avenue has come crashing down from eighth to fifth, Vine Street from 11 to seven and Fleet Street from 13 to nine. But Bow Street has leapt from nine to 15, Pall Mall from six to 13.

"Most of the squares on the original board cover predominantly commercial property locations and as such there is no established residential market on which to base our indicative prices," said Mr Donnell. "The one exception is Islington, which in residential terms, should be further round the board as average values there are relatively high."

If the makers ever did consider remaking their famous board, Mr Donnell feels no 21st-century Monopoly game would be complete without the inclusion of prime locations such as Belgravia, Knightsbridge, Kensington, Notting Hill and parts of Chelsea. Even Wandsworth would merit a spot, he said.

Waddington has remained unmoved by Islington's pleas to redesign the game, which has sold more than 20 million sets in Britain alone. "The board was devised 65 years ago and reflect the property prices of the time," said a spokesman. "The board cannot be changed and will not be changed and anyway there isn't enough space on the squares to add all the noughts you would need to write the current London prices."

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