From King’s Cross to Chelsea, London’s defunct gasworks are being repurposed as sites for tens of thousands of new homes.
The latest transformation is of the Clarendon Road plant, a marvel of Victorian engineering when it opened in 1888 but decommissioned in 1960.
But over the next eight years this 12-acre site, which also includes a neighbouring trading estate, will be transformed into Clarendon Works, providing hundreds of new homes — along with a marker for the future of this currently shabby north London suburb.
The first residents will move in this year. One-bedroom flats are available for £456,000 and two-bedroom flats for £532,500. All studio and three-bedroom flats in the first phase have already sold.
By 2028 there will be 1,700-plus new homes at Clarendon Works, including more than 400 lower-cost homes aimed at first-time buyers and renters who would otherwise be priced out of the area.
A new park will feature sections of the original gasholders; there will be shops, offices and restaurants, and a “civic boulevard” will link the scheme to the centre of Wood Green.
Haringey council is drawing up plans for a £3.5 billion transformation of the rest of the neighbourhood, just a mile from arty, leafy Crouch End.
It wants to see 6,400 new homes and to create a “thriving, prosperous, green town centre” to replace what is currently a slightly threatening shopping mall dissected by a busy road.
For now, these plans are all far more framework than fact, but investment is coming into the area.
Last year planning permission was granted for a mixed-use scheme in the High Road which will incorporate smart new shops and 121 flats, and was also agreed for a £75 million project to build 197 homes, a hotel, shops and restaurants, around a pedestrianised courtyard, in Bury Road.
In addition, Haringey is considering a badly needed rethink of The Mall Wood Green shopping centre.
The range of budget chains there is boring and the Seventies-built centre has had its own dedicated police force to deal with street drinkers, nuisance crime and gangs, while gun and knife crime remains an issue in the area.
However, Kaush Mistry, sales manager of Hobarts estate agents, says: “It is getting much, much better. Wood Green has a reputation but new elements are moving in, all these young professionals who are doing up their houses, and that is bringing the streets up.”
Gentrification is here
So, gentrification and changing local demographics are having an impact.
The recent opening of a Pret A Manger in Wood Green High Road sparked a heated Twitter debate, with some locals delighted by the arrival of avocado salad wraps and flat whites, while others were concerned that its coffees and sandwiches would be too expensive for many locals.
If you can forgive Wood Green its reputation and its town centre, this could be a smart place to buy.
It is leafier than you might imagine with Wood Green Common close to the Tube; Green Flag-holding Downhills Park, with a good recreation ground and sports facilities, and lovely Alexandra Park just to the west. There are also some glimmers of interesting entrepreneurship off the main drag.
At Blue House Yard a former car park has been turned into a hipster-friendly base for start-ups, with a café in a decommissioned London bus.
Recently opened Clarendon Yards on the Clarendon Works site offers co-working spaces, an outdoor bar and microbrewery, allotments and room for events, plus a branch of CrossFit, for gym coaching sessions.
Green Rooms, a hotel in an Art Deco former electrical goods showroom, has discounted room rates for artists and creatives, with a programme of live music, exhibitions, workshops and a good restaurant. Local gastropub The Prince in Finsbury Road has a modern British menu.
In property terms, Wood Green is hugely more affordable than most of its neighbours.
Hobarts’ Kaush Mistry says a three-bedroom Victorian or Edwardian terrace house would cost in the region of £600,000, while one of the two-bedroom red-brick terrace homes in Noel Park, a very peaceful little conservation area south of the station, would cost £450,000 to £500,000.
Unfortunately it is not possible to convert these little homes into three-bedroom properties by going into the loft, due to the protection of the conservation area and their low roof pitch.
Most of Wood Green’s houses are modest, built for railway workers. For larger properties you will need to edge towards the borders with Alexandra Park, where a four-bedroom terrace would cost from £750,000 to £875,000. In Alexandra Park itself, a similar home would cost £1 million to £1.2 million.
The lower prices reflect nervousness about Wood Green’s reputation. However, Mistry says many locals solve the problem by simply treating Alexandra Park, Muswell Hill or Crouch End as their high street and, until it ups its game, only really using Wood Green for the Underground link.