Belsize Park: Renovations galore in this glossy area popular with young professionals
PUBLISHED: 09:35 03 December 2015 | UPDATED: 11:33 10 December 2015
It is little wonder that Belsize Park's stucco-fronted houses, bustling café culture and proximity to some of London's top schools attract the likes of Gwyneth Paltrow and Helena Bonham Carter says
Belsize Park is in the heart of the fashionable NW3 postcode area in the borough of Camden. It lies in the Hampstead and Kilburn parliamentary constituency. The smallest properties in Band A should expect to pay a total council tax bill of £891.32. The average band D property would receive a bill for £1,336.81 and the most expensive homes in Band H would pay £2,673.62.
A brief stroll around the prized postcodes of Belsize Lane and Eton Avenue reveals a fashion for expanding family homes and a host of high-end conversions which are springing up throughout the area. Discerning buyers can still find two-bedroom apartments in converted terraces for under a million pounds while roomy family homes on private streets come with VIP prices.
The average price tag for a two-bed flat is £833,747 and a typical semi-detached home will set you back £2,837,824. A detached family home should expect to fetch anywhere in the region of £3,950,565, with the more palatial six-bedroom pad competing with some of the glitziest properties in central London.
Homes on the market are mostly found in the wide avenues and stucco-fronted surrounds of Belsize Lane and Belsize Park Gardens whilst a cluster of Edwardian terraces around Glenloch and Howitt Roads provide plenty of varied period character. Hidden streets branching off Belsize Park Gardens reveal a hotch potch of brightly coloured private mews houses that lend a quaint contrast to the grand columns and creamy facades of neighbouring roads.
Belsize Park also embraced the 1930s trend for sleek, symmetrical apartment blocks, notably in the multi-tiered ‘cruise-liner’ design of the Isokon apartments in Lawn Road.
Belsize Park station is in zone two on the London Underground, offering access to central London twenty minutes away on the Northern Line. Many of the main residential roads are just a short step from Chalk Farm station and Hampstead Heath on the London Overground. Excellent bus services also connect Belsize Park to major routes in north London and into the centre of town within 30 minutes.
Belsize Park boasts a number of the capital’s most sought-after schools, although Abacus School, which opened in 2013, is the only primary in the heart of the village. The secular, community school has proved hugely popular and gained an Ofsted rating of outstanding at its recent inspection. Nursery and pre-prep Hamsptead Hill school in Pond Street and Rosary RC on Haverstock Hill rated by Ofsted as “good”, while Fleet Primary and Lyndhurst House preparatory school maintain the overall “good” standard for primary education in the area. The well-regarded University College School and South Hampstead High School for girls consistently achieve league table-topping results at GCSE and A-Level.
Landmarks and history
Named after the french ‘bel assis’, meaning well situated, Belsize Park first became popular in the 19th century when Londoners climbed the hill to Belsize House to take in the fresh air and unrivalled views across the Heath and the rest of the city. The hilltop manor is long since gone, but the area maintained its allure for artists and intellectuals well into the 1930s, when artists Barbara Hepworth and Naum Gambo were at the centre of a cultural revival in the area.
The Second World War saw the historic Royal Free Hospital heavily bombed and much of the surrounding area was substantially rebuilt. More recently, the area has drawn the likes of painter Patrick Caulfield and a host of actors, musicians and well-loved comedians can be spotted with a cappuccino in one of the area’s cosy cafés or out for a stroll of a Sunday morning.
Shopping and culture
Part of the small independent chain, Daunt Books is a treasure trove of literature, which attracts a host of loyal customers thanks to its welcoming atmosphere for browsing and its interesting selection. Friendly, knowledgeable staff complete the dream bookshop picture.
Barretts’ Butchers on England’s Lane is a family run shop selling fresh and cooked meats, pies, cheese and game. Pomona Deli completes the picture of high-end, traditional-style shops with its emphasis on local and organic produce where possible, sourced from organic farmers, Cornish dayboats and London bakers, supplemented with more exotic worldwide items. They also offer home delivery for the ultimate in old-fashioned convenience.
Lotus and Frog’s unique blue frontage and whimsical window display entice shoppers in to browse toys, games, books and curios for all ages.
Eating and drinking
The key shopping district around England’s Lane is teeming with cosy cafés, gastropubs and resturants perfect for afternoon tea or a hearty meal after a walk on the Heath. Chamomile Café on England’s Lane is a haven for coffee lovers, and locals line up for their selection of cakes, patisserie and home-made lunches which serve up a rich beef bourgignon and lemon-crusted salmon fillet with special ‘chamomile potatoes’.
Equally popular is the breakfast menu at Ginger and White’s, which offers an artisanal take on the traditional English breakfast with smoky home-made baked beans and poached eggs on sourdough toast.
For the thirsty Belsizer there are a range of atmospheric pubs including the Sir Richard Steele in Steeles Village and the secret speakeasy downstairs in the wood-panelled surrounds of The Washington at the top of England’s Lane.
Sports and leisure
The Everyman cinema is a single-screen venue showing predominantly arthouse and independent films in a luxurious setting, complete with sofas and a full bar. It’s not cheap, but it’s certainly comfortable.
Wac Arts in the Old Town Hall on Haverstock Hill hosts arts events and training for adults and children. Courses include after school clubs, an alternative curriculum for 14-19 year olds with a focus on performing arts, and a diploma in professional musical theatre, while the community hub offers a recording studio, office space, a community choir and a film society.
Good for kids
Families are well provided for in Belsize Park, with Little Hands design on Belsize Lane offering an award-winning dress-making and design workshop offering little tailors and seamstresses and their parents the chance to stitch their own dresses, accessories and creative designs under the guidance of a team of professional textiles experts. The Creative Wiz Kids play group at St.Peter’s Church offers plenty of opportunities for budding artists to paint, draw and explore with a team of vibrant teachers who foster the idea of “learning through play not pressure.”