Hot Spot: Highbury, London

For years a Cinderella suburb in north London, Arsenal's stadium project is driving a rags-to-riches transformation of the area, says Robert Liebman
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The Independent Online

A new stadium for Arsenal football club means a hat trick of major property developments in Highbury. With the new 60,000-seat Ashburton Grove stadium as the centrepiece, the overall renewal scheme includes several large residential developments, restaurants and various leisure and entertainment facilities. Completion of the new stadium will, in turn, release the land at the old stadium for still more flats and eateries.

A new stadium for Arsenal football club means a hat trick of major property developments in Highbury. With the new 60,000-seat Ashburton Grove stadium as the centrepiece, the overall renewal scheme includes several large residential developments, restaurants and various leisure and entertainment facilities. Completion of the new stadium will, in turn, release the land at the old stadium for still more flats and eateries.

The club, teaming with property developers Taylor Woodrow and George Wimpey, is also involved in VisioN7, a brownfield conversion just south of the new stadium which will result in more than 2,000 residential units in four distinct projects. VisioN7's Eden Grove will contain three new stepped buildings; the fourth building is the Victorian Mount Carmel School. Residents will also have access to a gym, cafes, shops, restaurants, studios and offices.

Endowed with several pleasant pockets of period homes built in the 19th-century, Highbury mostly slumbered through the 20th, its property prices rising primarily as ripples from its trendy neighbour Islington. But Highbury is now being utterly transformed with this renewal of a large swathe of land extending from the current Arsenal football ground to Caledonian Road Tube station.

Rising property values do not come with ironclad guarantees, but Adrian Owens of Hamptons believes that Highbury might be getting the next best thing. "This regeneration will be massive. Like Paddington and Kings Cross, Highbury was a scruffy pocket with fundamental values lower than those for the areas surrounding it, especially Islington, Camden and Highgate. So it has more margin for growth. Highbury is getting the luxury housing, restaurants and leisure facilities it never had before, and regeneration areas generally outperform the market."

THE LOW-DOWN

Transport

Holloway Road, Drayton Park and Finsbury Park Tube stations are being upgraded. Highbury Islington station is on the Piccadilly Line as well as the North London line and overground service into Old Street and Moorgate stations in the City. Finsbury Park serves the Piccadilly and Victoria lines and has mainline service connections.

Affordable housing

At Drayton Park, Queensland Road, Lough Road, Piper Close and Hornsey Street, more than 500 residential units - flats with one, two, three or four bedrooms - are being built in several developments to provide affordable and key-worker housing. Some of the housing units are scheduled to be completed later this year; the stadium should be ready by August 2006.

Prices

Studio flats in former council blocks start from £125,000, and penthouses in new luxury towers sell for about £2m. In between is a one-bed flat in Highbury Fields with high ceilings and bay window. It needs "cosmetic upgrading" and is for sale at £299,000 via Currell.

Old into new

Several adjacent period terraces on Mountgrove Road are being converted into modern flats. One-bedroom units over two storeys sell for £225,000 and £250,000, and a three-bed flat with garden is £350,000, at Hotblack Desiato. A one-bed conversion in Highbury Barn costs, £239,950, and a two-bed garden flat on Highbury New Park, £325,000 at Kinleigh.

Shop conversion

A two-storey flat whose ground floor used to be a shop, and has now been converted into an apartment with small conservatory is £339,950 with shared freehold, at Hotblack.

Converting the converted

The original hall for St Augustine Church (1881) later became Wessex Studios, used by the Sex Pistols, the Stones, Queen, David Bowie and others. Now, the Recording Studios on Highbury New Park behind the church is being sold as a three-bed townhouse and eight flats; prices are from £300,000 to £525,000, with ground rent and service charges to be determined. Four car-parking spaces will be available at £30,000 each; via Currell.

Penthouse

A large, modern two-storey penthouse has three bedrooms (one with movable walls to create a fourth), a swimming pool and spacious roof terrace; £1.95m at Currell. Another architect-designed home is a two-bed 1,655sq ft Bauhaus-inspired mews house with roof conservatory; c.£960,000 at Hotblack.

New at Highbury Fields

The 29-unit Viewpoint is a stepped five-storey block with underground car parking; 12 single-storey two-bed flats are available from £430,000 to £499,950; via Crest Nicholson, 0870 300 6129.

New at Eden Grove

The first of the three new-build Eden Grove blocks of flats and penthouses is expected to complete next autumn, from £289,000, with 88 car parking spaces (£18,000 each) allocated to the higher value two- and three-bed units. (020-7700 7555).

Estate agents

Currell, 020-7226 4200; Hamptons, 020-7244 4702; Hotblack Desiato, 020-7226 0160; Kinleigh Folkard & Hayward, 020-7226 2487.

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