1st September 2023

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East London’s Property Cinderella Story: The Transformation of Shoreditch, Hackney, and Highbury and Islington

There is no doubt that during the 21st century London’s great property Cinderella story has been all about east London.

Creative young Londoners priced out of more established areas began exploring the capital’s cheap and cheerful E postcodes, bringing hip bakeries, artisanal cafes, art galleries, and start-ups with them.

As a result, locations like Hackney which, in living memory, were considered rough and run down, have become bone fide hotspots beloved of the young (and young at heart). And despite some exponential price growth during the noughties, this matured property market remains a pocket of (relative) value in central London, where you can still buy property for less than £1,000 per square foot. 


Shoreditch: Victorian Slum to Artistic Hub

  • Average price per sq ft: £886.
  • Annual price change: 2.5 per cent.
  • Five year price change: -8.3 per cent.

This one-time Victorian slum was the crucible of the property rebirth of East London, its rise inextricably linked with the explosion of the British modern art scene in the 1990s. 

Young British artists began to take space at the area’s many moribund factory buildings, setting up home in its cheap warehouse spaces, and holding rave parties.

Its cool, creative image was cemented when White Cube, a contemporary art gallery owned by Jay Jopling, opened in 2000 and pioneered the work of artists such as Damien Hirst, Tracey Emin and Marc Quinn. 

Names like these put Shoreditch on the map. Meanwhile the extension of the London Overground put it on the tube map. And, as its original buyers started to grow up and on so young bankers, brokers, and lawyers keen to live somewhere buzzy and slightly edgy (and convenient for their City offices) moved in, pushing up prices.


Shoreditch’s Warehouse Conversions and New Apartments

Purists would say, correctly, that modern Shoreditch has lost its edge since its glory days in the 1990s. Its certainly lost its reputation for a place to go for cheap studio space. But it has an unparalleled selection of warehouse conversions and newly built apartments with fabulous views. Its lack of houses means its not particularly family friendly – its lack of green space doesn’t help. 

But for buyers who want proximity to the West End and City, lively nightlife, and a great choice of independent bars and restaurants, Shoreditch still ticks many boxes. 

One of Black Brick’s Shoreditch buyers worked in the entertainment industry and was looking for an open plan home with wow factor. We found them a 1,500 square foot warehouse which ticked all the boxes and were able to negotiate £200,000 off the original asking price. We even managed to get a car parking space included as part of the £1.45m deal:

Contact us to discuss property in Shoreditch.


Hackney: Gentrification and Working Class Grit

  • Average price per sq ft: £813.
  • Annual price change: 2.7 per cent.
  • Five year price change: 9.5 per cent.

As prices escalated in Shoreditch buyers continued to ripple east, adopting Hackney just in time for the 2012 Olympics.

Traditionally Hackney was a working class railway suburb, which evolved with the railway network, and it was heavily bombed during the Second World War and subsequently rebuilt with low grade social housing.

Gentrification has wrought changes on Hackney, but it still retains a little of its authentic grit along Mare Street, where traditional pubs and launderettes sit alongside co-working spaces and pop up restaurants.

Victoria Park and London Fields provide plentiful green space, with a party atmosphere on sunny days, and Broadway Market has become one of London’s most chi chi street markets.


Hackney’s Cultural Scene

There is a thriving cultural scene and, say locals, the kind of sense of community which has been lost in other parts of central London.

The property scene encompasses elegant Victorian and Georgian townhouses, period conversions, and newly built apartments, some set on industrial sies beside the Regent’s Canal, which means Hackney works for first time buyer and young professionals, buyers after a pied a terre, and families who want an urban upbringing for their children. This is really not private school territory but most of the local schools have “good” or “outstanding” reports from Ofsted. 

One of Black Brick’s recent clients works in the music industry and was looking for his first home. As a first time buyer he was confused about the buying process, and had no experience in negotiating prices. We found him a newly built duplex apartment and managed to cut £47,000 off its £749,000 asking price: 

Contact us to discuss property in Hackney


Highbury and Islington: North-East London’s Property Market

  • Average price per sq ft: £981.
  • Annual price change: 6.8 per cent.
  • Five year price change: 8 per cent.

Although Highbury and Islington are technically in north- east London, it is another area with good links to the City which has gentrified organically as generations of buyers have drifted in from more expensive surrounding neighbourhoods.

Stretched out along the A1, from Angel station on the fringes of the City to the Emirates Stadium, home of Arsenal, Islington’s grand period terraced houses have been a magnet for ambitious buyers looking for a smart townhouse since the 1960s. Back then houses in Islington were scruffy – and cheap. Today most have been comprehensively renovated and extended, and cheap they are not.


Islington’s Period Townhouses and Leafy Streets

Buyers love Islington for how central it is, for its leafy streets, and for the really outstanding range of shops and restaurants on Upper Street, which always manages to feel a bit more interesting and authentic than the high streets on offer around west London. Pub life is excellent, its always worth catching a show at the Almeida theatre, and there is also an arthouse cinema.

Parents like the area’s range of schools for younger students, including a good choice of high performing state primary schools plus the St Paul’s Steiner School. Older pupils can tap into the excellent choice of private schools clustered in Hampstead and Highgate, or head south for Westminster or City of London schools.

Quality houses are in really short supply in this area – once they have moved in families tend to stay put – but we managed to find one recent client a beautiful end of terrace house in Hamilton Park West, Highbury. The family knew the area well but called in professional help because they were aware how competitive this market is. The home we found for them was six bedroom Regency property with a 65ft garden, which they bought for £3.45m:

Contact us to discuss property in Hackney

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