More For Your Money: Lisson Grove NW1/NW8

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The Independent Online

For many Londoners, Lisson Grove - behind Marylebone Station, between Marylebone and St John's Wood - is the place they go to for, and only for, fish and chips. But this small obscure residential enclave has quiet roads with period homes, art galleries and antique shops bordering the core of central London.

For many Londoners, Lisson Grove - behind Marylebone Station, between Marylebone and St John's Wood - is the place they go to for, and only for, fish and chips. But this small obscure residential enclave has quiet roads with period homes, art galleries and antique shops bordering the core of central London.

The best property bargains are long gone. In 1966, Nicholas Logsdail was a harried, impoverished student commuter travelling between his home in the Chilterns and the Slade School of Art.

"I was tired of sleeping on friends' floors. One day near Marylebone station, I saw a grubby hand-painted 'To Let' sign saying any reasonable offer would be accepted."

The landlord wanted £6 per week for largely derelict shops and flats: "The sign had been up for more than four years," Logsdail recalls. "I shared the rent with other students and borrowed £2,000 to fix it up. A year later I borrowed money from the local bank, purchased it and opened the Lisson Gallery." Logsdail went on to become one of Britain's most prominent fine art dealers, and his award-winning gallery has displayed work by such highly regarded artists as Tony Cragg, Anish Kapoor, Richard Wentworth and Sol LeWitt.

After extending and improving the property, Logsdail sold it during the booming 1980s at a hefty premium, but instead of moving out he traded up locally. He installed the gallery in spacious premises on Bell Street, and installed his family nearby on the same road.

"I love the area. It is unpretentious, convenient, not over-gentrified or snobby, and in walking distance of Regent's Park and Hyde Park. The gallery is surrounded by areas of great affluence," he says.

Lisson Grove retains its modesty. "Properties here are still much cheaper than elsewhere and is about half the price of St John's Wood, although Lisson Grove is closer to the West End.

It is less expensive because after the war much local authority housing was built. But some estates now are about 90 per cent privately owned.

"Lisson Green estate was a problem about 15 years ago but the council has put a massive amount of investment in revamping it, and they moved the bad families out," says Logsdail.

Lisson Grove will retain its upstairs/downstairs community. In the luxurious new Sanctuary, town houses are priced at £1.4m. Nearby and nearing completion on Salisbury Street is a block of 58 one- to four-bed affordable flats run by a housing association.

What sort of properties are there in the area?

Small concentrations of Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian houses and cottages - and recently built traditional houses - line many quiet side streets. Stately mansion blocks are on the edge of Lisson Grove and smaller modern blocks are within it. Former warehouses on Plympton Street now contain trendy lofts.

What are prices like?

One-bed ex-council flats start from £175,000, but larger flats in the more salutary estates can sell for more than £300,000. Purpose-built and converted two-bed flats start from £250,000. In new blocks with concierges and other trimmings, two-bed flats can cost £350,000 or more. Many period houses have been converted into flats. Intact houses are snapped up quickly if properly priced, says Spencer Botchin of agents Kinleigh Folkard Hayward.

Tell me more about the Sanctuary

This is a new development on Bell Street, which has nine flats, two penthouses and three townhouses, on offer for between £415,000 and £1.4m. Word on the street is that a single buyer is negotiating to purchase the whole caboodle.

And the canal?

The sprawling Lisson Green estate occupies the land just south of the Grand Union Canal. Westminster council's £50m programme to improve the estate, which began in 1995, is now in its final phase. The project has seen the demolition of several blocks, new social-housing units, increased security (removing high-level interlinking walkways) and a new community centre.

How's the transport?

Marylebone Station has National Rail and underground services. Lisson Grove is just outside the congestion charging zone, which begins at Marylebone Road. Immediately west of Lisson Grove, Marylebone Road becomes the A40(M) for Heathrow, the M25 and Oxford.

What about the shopping?

Bell Street and its market have been overshadowed by Church Street. "Although not a farmers' market, Church Street has good fresh produce, and Alfie's has about 200 dealers selling antiques, classic modern, and specialists - for example in 1950s Italian furniture," says Logsdail.

What about dining out?

The renowned Sea Shell chippy is located on Lisson Grove, between Bell and Church Streets ( www.seashellrestaurant.co.uk).

For afternoon tea, the Winter Garden is in an eight-storey atrium in the Landmark Hotel (a grand Victorian railway hotel) on Marylebone Road. The area also contains many Asian, Middle Eastern and other ethnic restaurants. "Zonzo, an Italian restaurant on Edgware Road, is always full. This area is crying out for a good, moderately priced contemporary restaurant," says Logsdail.

And one for the pub quiz?

Which fictional working-class heroine from Lisson Grove is groomed to pass as posh?

Answer: By George, I think you've got it: Eliza Doolittle from Shaw's Pygmalion and the 1964 film My Fair Lady.

Kinleigh Folkard Hayward, 020-7486 5551

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