After looking for a three bedroom house with outdoor space for a new baby and dog, Seep Scriven and her husband Henry found a home in Kensal Rise, north west London, last summer. On a budget of £600,000, the couple also wanted to be a little greener than their previous home in Surrey Quays, south-east London.
“We didn’t know the area, but friends said it was ‘up and coming’. We found it had excellent transport links and we found a Victorian house that could be expanded,” says the TV producer. “It’s close enough to Notting Hill and Hampstead Heath and full of creative guys.”
North of Ladbroke Grove and west of Queen’s Park and Notting Hill, ‘Kensal Rise’ is often used as a synonym for ‘Kensal Green’, an area just east of the tube station of the same name. Some locals simply call the whole neighborhood “Kensal.”
But in Rise and Green – mainly in the NW10 3 and NW10 5 postcodes – prices have risen due to buyers’ quest for more space during the pandemic and a variety of Victorian and later housing stocks. According to Hamptons, the average selling price for used homes has increased 22 percent over the past two years, using land registry data. The stake, which cost more than £1m, rose 17 per cent – and accounted for 42 per cent of property sales in 2021. The average house selling price last year was £1,237,540.
The area is oversubscribed by upsizers, says Joshua Ratcliffe, an associate at Domus Nova, a real estate agency.
“A typical buyer is in their 30s and has an apartment in Notting Hill or Queen’s Park,” says Ratcliffe. “They’ll come across a house in Kensal Rise when they start a family and do a little renovation. For £1.4m – the cost of a lovely two bedroom flat in Notting Hill – you can get a whole house in Kensal.”
Renting a flat in Notting Hill was a springboard for Tom Recaldin. He bought a five bedroom house in December 2020 to refurbish on one of the streets between the main shopping streets of Chamberlayne Road and College Road. He and his wife just had their first baby.
“Queen’s Park was a challenge financially, so Kensal was next,” says the 39-year-old, who works in software. “A good school, Princess Frederica CofE Primary, is down our street and Roundwood Park is close by with its CrossFit and running track. The only thing we miss is a good choice of restaurants.”
London’s only social enterprise cinema, the Lexi, and the Whippet Inn are popular local businesses on fashionable Chamberlayne Road, which is undergoing improvements to make it more user-friendly for pedestrians and cyclists as part of Brent Council’s Kensal Corridor Masterplan. A new Crossrail station at Kensal Gasworks, a site on the canal being developed by the Berkeley Group, has long been discussed.
The area east of Chamberlayne Road and north of Harvist Road, which merges with Queen’s Park, tends to be more expensive than Ladder to the west, says Marlon Lloyd Malcolm of estate agent Lurot Brand, because the Victorian houses there offer larger gardens. But the “Kensal Triangle” – the area east of Chamberlayne but below the railway tracks – is another popular corner.
“Houses there typically cost £1m to £1.25m if they need work, or £1.35m to £1.7m if they don’t,” he says.
The area west of Kensal Green station and College Road, where there is more post-war housing, may be more affordable, according to Lloyd Martin. A mix of 1930s and 1950s semis with bay windows can be bought there for around £1.1million, he says.
Two bedroom refurbished apartments are typically £550,000 to £700,000 across Kensal. Ratcliffe suggests some homes have been rented or bought during the pandemic pied a terre convenient for those whose main residence is in Oxfordshire or the Cotswolds due to its proximity to the M40 route from London.
Renters also get more bang for their buck west of Kensal Green Station, says Thaminah Bhatty, leasing manager at agency Marsh & Parsons.
“For a decent two-bedroom flat you’ll pay around £1,800-£1,850 a month, but being close to Kensal Rise station – particularly in the coveted streets off Chamberlayne Road – you’ll pay £1,900-£1,950,” she says.
The generous proportions and yard sizes of some of the Harlesden-bound homes drew Sarah Thomson and her husband, both documentary producers, to the area three years ago. The couple, who now have two young boys and a dog, moved from a two-bedroom flat in Maida Vale to a four-bedroom house for the same price.
“We’re both over 6 feet tall and these houses had higher ceilings than the Victorian patios we looked at,” she says.
Thomson adds that the Ofsted rating for the local College Green Nursery School is excellent, the highest rating. The family has also signed up for a new family-friendly private members’ club in the area, Jaego’s House.
Thomson agrees with Recaldin that there are great casual cafes but a lack of sophisticated wine bars.
“Harrow Road needs to be livened up with some exciting restaurants, but I like the fact that it’s not as touristy as Notting Hill these days – and that it’s packed with actors, writers and filmmakers,” she says.
What you can buy. . .
Flat, College Road, £600,000
A contemporary conversion on the first floor with two double bedrooms. The property is a short walk from Kensal Green tube and tube station and is located in the Marsh & Parsons market.
Terraced house, Liddell Gardens, £1.15m
A four bedroom, two bathroom house in Liddell Gardens, running between Chamberlayne and College streets, about 10 minutes walk from Queen’s Park. For sale at Dexters.
Semi-detached house, Chamberlayne Road, £1.6m
A six bedroom house with approximately 2,600m2 of living space and off street parking. Available through Hamptons.
Kensal Rise station is on the Overground line, while Kensal Green is on both the Overground and Underground (Bakerloo) lines.
Kensal Rise/Green are located in the London Borough of Brent. Average Annual Council Tax (Band D) for 2021/22 is £1,815.07.
The price of an average property has increased by 103 percent in 10 years – the greater London area average is 55 percent. According to Hamptons, 58 percent of Kensal’s 2021 real estate sales were homes.
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