More For Your Money: Whitehall Park, N19

A pocket of period homes
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The Independent Online

It may be Upper Holloway in postcode and geography, but the Whitehall Park Conservation Area is really Highgate in architecture, ambience, and most other attributes except, fortunately, price.

It may be Upper Holloway in postcode and geography, but the Whitehall Park Conservation Area is really Highgate in architecture, ambience, and most other attributes except, fortunately, price.

You can be excused for not being familiar with this north-London enclave, even if you regularly travel on the A1 Archway Road and Hornsey Lane that hem it in. Those that can afford the pricey properties in the area gravitate toward Highgate and Muswell Hill, while bargain-seekers contend with the vastness of Upper and Lower Holloway to the south. Both Holloways harbour numerous pockets of period properties, but the houses in and around Whitehall Park are large and well maintained. Many offer panoramic views of the West End and the City, with St Paul's, the London Eye, Telecom Tower, Canary Wharf tower and "The Gherkin" clearly visible.

Joy and David Dean hit the jackpot when they bought a roomy character home on Cheverton Road five years ago, although they believed at the time that they'd settled for a consolation prize. "Shortly after we got married, we decided to sell my flat in Crouch End and David's in south London, and use our combined resources to buy a house in Crouch End. But Crouch End was being over-hyped and we couldn't find a house that we liked or that was big enough. Then we discovered this area."

The discovery proved propitious, especially when their son was born three and a half years ago. "Our life changed. Now, I like being outside Crouch End but able to access it," Joy says. "Crouch End is almost too popular, with every vacant building being converted into flats. But we like the buzz, and occasionally we walk over for the restaurants and shops. We go to Highgate and Waterlow Park for coffee and a change of scenery. Our neighbours are very friendly, and it is quiet and peaceful. The A1 is nearby, but we never hear any traffic."

The best houses in this conservation area offer the all the most desirable features of a period property, such as carved stonework and doors with stained-glass panels outside, and original fireplaces, tessellated flooring and ceiling mouldings inside. But location can be important: "We live on the north side of Cheverton Road, and the tall houses opposite block our view. Their view is great, but our gardens are bigger. Things balance out, in the end," says Joy.

Reluctantly, the Deans are selling, leaving London altogether for family reasons. Their house is one of several on Cheverton Road that the estate agents Whitehalls are selling, all between £625,000 and £630,000.

What properties are available?

Gary Rosenthal of Whitehalls estimates that, within the formal boundaries of the conservation area between Hornsey Lane and St Johns Way, there are about 1,000 homes, a total that includes conversion and purpose-built flats and estates. Period homes in popular roads number between 450 and 500, many of them being convertions.

What are the prices like?

The estate agent Whitehalls is selling a two-bedroom one-reception conversion flat on Gladsmuir Road for £245,000, and a three-bedroom two-reception room conversion on the same road for only £15,000 more. The latter, however, has restricted head height in two bedrooms. A three-bedroom terrace house on Harberton Road is £450,000 at Barnard Marcus. A varied selection of four- and five-bedroom houses on Harberton, Cheverton and Gladsmuir roads and Whitehall Park, costing between £499,950 and £675,000, are available at Whitehalls.

How do the house prices compare with immediate neighbours?

Generally, prices rise as you go north from Holloway to Whitehall Park and then to Highgate. John Greenaway of Barnard Marcus says that a three/four-bedroom house selling for £550,000-£600,000 in Whitehall Park would command perhaps £375,000 to £400,000 further south in Holloway, but closer to £800,000 in Highgate. Similarly, within the conservation area itself, prices rise the further north - or up the hill - you go.

What is behind those lovely Victorian façades?

The oldest character homes date to around 1890, and many have since been extended, expanded and refurbished. "Tired" homes - ones needing substantial refurbishment - still come on to the market. Joy Dean says that "even during our five years here, we have seen a fantastic number of sales, and often the houses are first totally gutted."

What about transport?

Tube stations in the area include Archway for the Northern Line, and Holloway Road for the Piccadilly Line. Upper Holloway station serves Silverlink's Gospel Oak-Barking line. Archway Road (A1) provides quick access to the North Circular and the M1.

What are the schools like?

Ashmount Primary School is slightly below average in English, maths and science, whereas Coleridge Primary on Crescent Road, just across the border from Islington to Haringey, achieved between 93 and 98 per cent in all three subjects. The estate agent John Greenaway believes that families sometimes choose Whitehall Park over Highgate or other pricier areas and use the savings for private education.

What about green spaces?

Nearby are Hampstead Heath; the smaller, perfectly formed Waterlow Park; and Highgate Cemetery, with its ornate memorial carvings in the older part of the necropolis, and famous inhabitants in the newer section, such as George Eliot and Marx and Spencer (Karl and survival-of-the-fittest philosopher Herbert).

And one for the pub quiz?

Which brothers put Holloway on the literary map?

In The Diary of a Nobody (1892), George and Weedon Grossmith gave us the Holloway-based social climber, Mr Pooter.

Barnard Marcus , Highgate, 020-8340 3424; Whitehalls, Archway, 020-7281 9646