Looking for an area of London that offered the same village feel as Hampstead but with bigger houses within her family’s budget, Dorothée Dembiermont chose Queen’s Park. The neighbourhood south-west of Hampstead, whose postcodes begin NW6 6, enjoys a less fashionable reputation but still benefits from easy access to north London’s green public spaces.
The French family is moving from a three-bedroom house in West Hampstead to a five-bedroom house with a garden.
“We had a sale agreed on a flat in Marylebone but the pandemic made us realise we needed more outside space,” says Dembiermont, who works in property finance. “Also important was feeling quite central still and being well placed for [a choice of secondary] French schools in Wembley, Kentish Town and South Kensington” for her two young children.
The capacious houses lining the streets immediately around Queen’s Park — the 12-hectare park after which the area is named — have been especially in demand since the pandemic-induced appetite for more living space, along with a lockdown-friendly community on the doorstep and good local schools.
The neighbourhood has seen an influx of people, like the Dembiermont family, from nearby areas where house prices are higher: St John’s Wood, Notting Hill, Belsize Park as well as Hampstead.
The agent Knight Frank reports that Queen’s Park experienced a bigger increase in £1m+ properties going under offer between March 2020 and April 2021 than any other of its London offices, with a 67 per cent rise.
Figures from Hamptons using Land Registry data show that in 2020 there was the highest ever proportion of £1m+ sales in the Queen’s Park area — at 47 per cent of second-hand property sales — and that over the past five years the average sale price has increased 37 per cent, from £923,100 in 2016 to £1,266,600 in the year to April 2021.
The market for £1.5m-£2.5m family houses has not slowed since April, says Sarah Khalil of Knight Frank. “We are still having multiple offers and sealed bids.”
Hamptons has seen its first off-market sales in Queen’s Park. “A typical move is a family buying a four-bedroom family home for £1.75m upwards, after selling a two or three-bedroom flat in Notting Hill,” says Alister Shaw, head of the local Hamptons office.
Retail businesses in the area have been evolving to cater for these space-seekers who had already started arriving, albeit in smaller numbers, before the pandemic. To add to the long-established Gail’s bakery is the upscale supermarket Planet Organic, which started supplying locals with vegan affogatos and kombucha two years ago, while Storm LDN, a new boutique boxing gym, opened in May.
Much of this is focused around Salusbury Road, the main commercial artery that runs parallel with the park. The Australian bar-restaurant Milk Beach is a favourite of Antoine Levy, who moved to the area in 2015 from Battersea, south of the river: “Since I arrived there are lots more cool restaurants: the Japanese Michiko Sushino is another I love.”
Levy, a sales and marketing manager for the villa-rental company The Thinking Traveller, bumps into other French-born locals at the farmers’ market that occupies the playground of Salusbury Primary School on Sundays.
He swapped one three-bedroom terraced house for another, but the house in Queen’s Park has a bigger garden and greater scope to expand: “I find it very easy to cycle to Little Venice or West Hampstead,” he says. “I use the Overground to go to work [in Brick Lane], in east London.”
He says he lives on the less fashionable (east) side of Salusbury Road and the park, which has a popular café and petting zoo and hosts annual summer and literary festivals. It was named after Queen Victoria — the Queen’s Park Estate was built from 1874-82 — and most properties are Victorian and Edwardian terraced or semi-detached houses.
Kingswood Avenue is the most desirable street in the whole of Queen’s Park. Overlooking the Park, it is made up of Victorian three-storey, five or six-bedroom terraced houses with around 2,800-2,900 sq ft of living space and gardens around 30ft long. These homes typically sell for £3.5m, though in June 2020, a six-bedroom house with a basement conversion sold for more than £6.05m, a record for the area.
The other prime roads overlooking the park are Milman and Chevening, with Harvist Road, to its south, less popular due to busier traffic and proximity to the proposed HS2 railway route — the tunnel is due to run east-west just below it.
Streets west of the park — such as Montrose Avenue and Dudley Road — can offer unmodernised terraced houses with 30ft-40ft gardens for £1.5m-£1.6m, according to Geoffrey Stiff of local agent Camerons Stiff & Co.
“They were the sort of thing being sought by couples living in Portobello Road or St John’s Wood, who suddenly rang the office in June 2020 [when the market opened up] and said: ‘We are going crazy living in a flat without a garden.’” Those seeking more lateral ground-floor space, and off-street parking, will head north to Brondesbury Park, or west to Kensal Rise, where comparable houses might be £1.2m-£1.3m.
In the 2016-17 aftermath of the EU referendum, Stiff says that house prices in the area came off slightly, and the market for flats has remained steady. Of the properties sold in the past 12 months, 43 per cent have been flats, according to Hamptons. The average price in the year to date was £639,950 — still considerably more affordable than Maida Vale (£767,010) and Notting Hill (£1,193,560).
Flats start at about £450,000 and first-time buyers are either locals or moving across from Notting Hill, says Oliver Browne of estate agent Foxtons.
“Recently a couple with a budget of £700,000, who couldn’t find what they wanted in W10, W9 or W11, bought a period conversion garden flat on The Avenue, just north of the park,” he says. “The same property in the postcodes mentioned would be between £900,000 and £1.3m.”
Agents also comment on the notable numbers of French people moving in. However, on the relative size of the expat community, Dembiermont says, “It’s nothing like South Kensington yet!”
Queen’s Park Underground is located in fare Zone 2 and is on the Bakerloo line, 10 minutes into Oxford Circus. Queen’s Park (London) station is on the Overground network with direct links to London Euston and Watford Junction; Brondesbury and Brondesbury Park stations are on the Overground line to Stratford and Clapham Junction.
Queen’s Park is in the London borough of Brent, and council tax for Band D for 2021/22 is £1,741.92
The average sale price of a house in Queen’s Park over the past 12 months was £1,995,270, compared with £5,186,820 in St John’s Wood and £4,879,190 in Notting Hill, according to Hamptons using Land Registry data.
What you can buy for . . .
£850,000 A one-bedroom ground floor flat on Willesden Lane, near Brondesbury Park tube station, with more than 1,200 sq ft of living space and a private 90ft garden. The property also has high ceilings, a wraparound terrace and a cellar. Available through Marsh and Parsons.
£4m A seven-bedroom family home on Milman Road. The terraced house has been extended into both the loft and basement space, and has views of Queen’s Park as well as a mature garden. Period features include sash windows and fireplaces. On the market with Knight Frank.
£4,999,950 A six-bedroom detached house on Aylestone Avenue. Built in the 1920s, the house has been refurbished in a contemporary style with a Devol kitchen, cinema room and wooden flooring throughout. A first-floor balcony overlooks the sizeable rear garden. For sale with Camerons Stiff & Co.