Property: Hot Spot - Nameless, but nice

Highbury/Finsbury Park/Green Lanes Borders, North London
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The Independent Online
The area directly south and east of Finsbury Park station has attractive housing stock in various price ranges, great transportation links to the West End and the City, easy access to nearby bustling Angel, Islington - and an identity crisis.

Possibly because this area lies within a no-name region between Highbury, Finsbury Park and Green Lanes, "the prices are more reasonable than a named area," says John Hamilton of estate agents Copping Joyce. Names matter, as do postcodes. "We are selling a house on Portland Rise in N4 for pounds 370,000 which would sell for at least pounds 500,000 if it were in N5. That's a hell of a lot of money for a quarter of a mile," he adds.

But the prices won't stay low forever, especially since this area is getting overspill from Islington. For single people and small families, many of the houses have been converted, and new conversions are continuing. But many unconverted houses remain, "and they are big enough to live in for up to 15 years without having to move if you have more children," says Mr Hamilton.

"If a family has three kids, the children can grow up in the one house. Otherwise many families have to pay a vast amount to get the next step up in house size or leave London altogether."

Several years ago the redundant Thames Water site on Green Lanes gave way to modern flats, and an office block has recently been converted into luxury flats. Mr Hamilton particularly rates this development, 100 Drayton Park, for providing "very good square footage for the price".

The structure is also notable for its large roof garden and internal courtyard.

As a neighbour, Mr Hamilton believes that the Arsenal football ground isn't as gruesome as many people may think: "Walk around on match day. Except for the occasional beer can in your garden, it is not bad in reality."

East of Blackstock Road, the southern end of Highbury New Park is a revelation: enormous houses on a wide but quiet tree-lined thoroughfare. The University of North London has a site near here. "Every summer we are inundated with students looking for rental accommodation. Every road in this area is architecturally different," says David Gaughan, manager of Garfield estate agents. Exceptionally large gardens can be found in properties on streets such as Wilberforce Road and Queens Drive.

The council estates vary: St John's Court is well maintained, Kings Crescent less so. "Most of our buyers of ex-council properties are buying to let, getting returns of between 12 and 17 per cent," says Mr Gaughan. "They are easy to rent and easy to sell."

Robert Liebman

The Low-down

Prices - One- and two-bedroom flats, some with 12-foot ceilings in period houses on Highbury New Park, start at about pounds 125,000. Bairstow Eves estate agents have houses with three bedrooms on Highbury Hill, N5, for pounds 235,000 and with five bedrooms for pounds 275,000. Copping Joyce has a four- bedroom three-storey Victorian house on Balfour Road for pounds 410,000. More bedrooms at less cost are available within the diamond created by Seven Sisters, Blackstock and Brownswood Roads, and Green Lanes.

Transport - Finsbury Park station has two tube lines (Piccadilly and Victoria), and two separate rail lines: one to Farringdon Road and Moorgate, and another linking King's Cross with Hertfordshire and other parts north. Good bus services exist throughout the area, and the Angel bus hub allows connections to the City, the West End and seemingly everywhere else.

Council Tax - The northeast segment of this area is in Hackney, where Band A is pounds 526, and Band H is pounds 1,579. In Islington, Band A is pounds 608, and Band H is pounds 1,824.

Wining, dining and going out - Finsbury Park and Highbury are starting to get their own decent restaurants and shops, and the Angel already has an abundance of restaurants, shops, clubs, a cinema, an antiques market at Camden Passage, and several trendy pubs and wine bars. Several fringe theatres grace the area, most notably the Almeida and the King's Head.

Shooting without a Gun - In 1886, the workers at the Royal Arsenal Factory in Woolwich, near Greenwich, south east London, formed a football team. The team moved to Highbury in 1913, and the factory remained behind. The football museum at the stadium depicts the club's history from its inception. It is closed on match days.

Ups and Downs - The water filter beds on Green Lanes are now home to the Castle Climbing Centre, complete with climbing walls and an abseil tower.

Gamboling on West Reservoir - Thanks to lottery funding, the large reservoir adjacent to Green Lanes is being converted into a leisure centre for canoeing, angling, wind-surfing, scuba-diving and other watersports.

Estate Agents - Bairstow Eves 0171-226 953; Copping Joyce 0171-359 9777; Garfield, 0171-226 0711.

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