Inwood Park, a large expanse of trees and lawn immediately south of Hounslow town centre, was for many years a virtual no-go area due to the many winos who congregated there day and night.
Now, the park, which is surrounded on three sides by quiet roads containing small, moderately priced period homes, is finally starting to attract young families and professionals in significant numbers. A dull and dowdy neighbourhood is rapidly smart-ening up.
The change has been largely due to the council's creation of an alcohol-free zone, taking in Inwood Park and the surrounding area. Safe, pleasant and well maintained, the park has become a major amenity in an area with excellent shopping and transport links.
Inwood Park is convenient for Hounslow national rail station to the south, and several tube stations and bus routes in the town centre just north.
Although Heathrow is almost literally just down the road, the park is lucky in being slightly south of the flightpath. Local roads are quiet thanks to controlled parking zones. When Kathrine Jakobson and her partner Tim Collier moved here three years ago, their main reason - in fact, their only reason - for choosing this area was price.
"We knew very little about the area. In 2003 I was pregnant, we were renting a flat in Kew, and we moved here because we knew we could afford it," says Kathrine. "In fact, it is very nice. We moved in the winter when the park looked grim but in summer we practically live there.
"You still see the occasional drunk but much less than before and you definitely see the police, frequently enforcing the drinking ban. I feel absolutely safe because the park is very open and there are no places for people to lurk about or hide. Loads of parents are always around, and on weekends, there are many adults playing sports."
Now the parents of two children, Hannah, two and a half, and Lucas, eight weeks, Kathrine and Tim face another move to larger premises. "It doesn't make sense to buy a two- or three-bed flat here when we can get a four- or five-bed house elsewhere for the same money," Kathrine explains. But having already found such good value in London, their next move will probably take them elsewhere. "We are thinking of looking in Manchester, although we have a network of friends and would like to stay here."
What kind of properties are available?
Small two-up, two-down bay-fronted Victorians predominate alongside and near the park. Many houses have been refurbished in recent years, but some haven't been touched in decades and come to market needing total modernisation. Conversion flats are rare but there are several blocks of purpose-built modern flats on Pears Road.
How much do flats cost?
One-bed flats start at about £125,000, and two-bed flats at £175,000. Two- and three-bed period homes cost from £225,000 to £275,000. Tim and Kathrine's one-bed flat on Pears Road is in a block with a communal garden and some housing-association tenants. It's for sale at £149,950 with First Choice.
What about houses?
On Gordon Road, west of the park, a two-bed two-reception bay-fronted Victorian terrace has a small rear garden and downstairs loo; £219,950 at Regents.
A plain-fronted three-bed house overlooking the park on Livingstone Road has two reception rooms and a raised deck in the rear garden; £254,950 at Milestone. Period houses sell fast.
How's the transport?
Hounslow national rail serves Waterloo and is in zone five. Hounslow Central and Hounslow East are on the Piccadilly Line in zone four. The A4 , M4 and M3 are nearby.
What about local schools?
Hounslow Town primary on Pears Road matches the national average for English but falls slightly below average in maths and science. In contrast, Chatsworth Primary on Heath Road has been steadily improving in recent years and enjoyed well above-average results in all three categories. Hounslow Manor secondary on Prince Regent Road has also been trying harder, although its latest results (for 2004) are still 20 per cent below average.
How's the shopping?
Inwood Road has a large corner grocery and, in the Lord Clyde, an attractive, convenient and popular local. Hounslow's Treaty Centre and many high-street shops will get upmarket competition from the Blenheim Centre, a £220million development currently under construction which will be home to Asda, some well-needed restaurants, a cinema, offices and private and keyworker residential units. Tell me more about
Inwood Park and other local greenery
Inwood Park has a playground, tennis courts, basketball court and a large expanse of lawn as well as a fence and gate, which is locked at night. Similar recreational facilities are available in the nearby Lampton Park just to the north. Inwood Park is convenient for several golf courses and Twickenham rugby ground.
And one for the pub quiz
The Treaty Centre built in the 1980s replaced what historic facilities?
Answer: An Edwardian facility containing swimming baths, a library and town hall.
First Choice 020 8758 9100; Gascoigne-Pees 020 8755 2791; Milestone, 020 8894 2855; Regents, 020 8577 5678