Wind the clock back 15 years and Queen’s Park, NW6, would not have registered on many City buyers’ radars. Today, however, it’s a different story. The north-west London neighbourhood, named to honour Queen Victoria and sandwiched between Kilburn and Kensal Rise, is the latest area to experience the flow of wealth from nearby Notting Hill.
Like Notting Hill in the 1990s, the terms “trendy” and “fashionable” are now increasingly being attached to Queen’s Park – with prices to match.
Simon Power, partner at Knight Frank’s Hampstead office, says the neighbourhood attracts young buyers looking for an area that has an “edge” without being considered dangerous.
“It has some very expensive areas penning it in, so it’s a very obvious spill-out zone,” says Power. Desirable locations such as Maida Vale, Hampstead and St John’s Wood are all nearby.
Queen’s Park already has a number of well-known residents. Alexandra Shulman, the editor of British Vogue, has called it home for a number of years, while last year actress Sienna Miller bought a house on Harvist Road, which overlooks the park.
“It’s an area that 10 years ago Knight Frank just wouldn’t have covered,” says Power. However, over the past decade prosperity has been shifting from Notting Hill north to Queen’s Park, Kensal Rise and Brondesbury, all in the south-eastern corner of the London borough of Brent.
Jo Eccles, a high-end property buying agent, recently helped a client who worked at Goldman Sachs to sell his Holland Park bachelor pad and buy a family house in Queen’s Park. “Several of his colleagues followed suit, so we’re seeing a city banker community emerging here,” she says.
The large price differential compared to nearby prime areas is certainly a big draw. Prices for houses in the area range from approximately £750 to £950 per square foot, while houses will go for £1,400-£1,700 per sq ft in St John’s Wood and £1,700-£2,000 per sq ft in Notting Hill.
The most sought-after roads are those near, or overlooking, the park. These include Milman Road, Kingswood Avenue, Harvist Road and Chevening Road. “Properties on these roads ... can often achieve at least a 15 per cent premium,” says Robert Lazarus, sales director at Paramount Properties. Other desirable roads are those that lead to the park from Salusbury Road – Queen’s Park’s main high street – to Kingswood Avenue.
“The houses close to Queen’s Park station and the park itself tend to be semi-detached Victorian conversions, and as you go slightly north towards Brondesbury Park, the houses tend to be larger and detached,” says Eccles.
Winkworth is selling a £2.5m house on Creighton Road, next to the park. The Edwardian property has six bedrooms and three bathrooms and is only a few minutes’ walk from the cafés and delis in Salusbury Road. Winkworth also has a five-bedroom house on Wrentham Avenue, which runs near the park, for £1.85m.
Meanwhile, Greene & Co is marketing a five-bedroom Victorian house on Chevening Road for £1.8m.
While the main high street does not quite have the London-village atmosphere that wealthy homeowners are used to in upmarket areas such as Hampstead, the area does have a strong community feel. Many locals enjoy the annual Queen’s Park Book Festival, now in its second year, and there is a weekly Sunday farmers market. The area has good schools, and Salusbury Road is lined with independent boutiques, bars and restaurants, with more springing up all the time.
The mix of residents will appeal to many buyers. Mark Sommerville of Hamptons, the estate agent, says the district is full of young families and a big media set. “It’s a bit like Notting Hill was – without the architecture – 15 years ago,” he adds.
However, while Queen’s Park has its attractions – including good transport links with the Bakerloo Line – the neighbourhood is not for everyone.
Power notes that there is still a bit of “postcode snobbery” within Queen’s Park. “There’s a drive to remain in NW6. If you drift over too far the other end you end up in NW10, which is still technically Queen’s Park but it is also the postcode of [the less desirable] Harlesden.”
Nick Young of Knight Frank says: “The feeling in the market, and of those buyers I speak to, is that they are starting to see Queen’s Park, Kensal Rise, Brondesbury as the next step to staying in areas such as Notting Hill, and now North Kensington, which are becoming financially impossible.”
But the area is expected to continue to improve. The proposed £32.7bn high-speed rail project linking London to the north of England, known as High Speed 2, is not expected to have a negative impact on property prices in Queen’s Park.
“The tunnel follows existing routes and is deep underground, passing under the northern end of W10 and not impacting on the area around the park,” says James Kerman, director of Winkworth’s North Kensington office. “The positive benefit of improved rail links to north-west London is that it should improve the general area, and given the current level of demand in Queen’s Park, it’s difficult to imagine any down side.”
Tanya Powley is the FT’s mortgage and property reporter
● Better value than nearby Notting Hill and Maida Vale
● Community vibe, with a weekly farmers’ market and an annual literary festival
● Good transport links
● Near to grittier neighbourhoods
● Architecturally less interesting than Notting Hill and Maida Vale
● Not a huge choice of retailers
What you can buy for ...
£100,000 Nothing. Flats typically start at about £250,000
£1m A five-bedroom Edwardian house, in need of modernisation, on one of the streets near the park