Belsize Park buyers stay long term
When Jane Lyons and her family moved to the affluent North West London neighborhood of Belsize Park after living in Hampstead Village and then a brief stint in Canary Wharf, proximity to South Hampstead High School was key. Two of the chemist’s three children attend the Independent Girls’ School. “We were going to move (back) to Hampstead, but being close to both school and the Jubilee Line made this patch more convenient because my husband works in Mayfair,” she says.
A mainly residential pocket of NW3, characterized by its grand stucco villas on wide roads, the convenience of Belsize Park – its name derives from bel-sittingold French for “beautifully situated” – remains a major attraction.
Close to Hampstead Village and Primrose Hill and equidistant between Regent’s Park and Hampstead Heath, it offers quick access to the West End via the Jubilee Line (from Swiss Cottage station). The abundance of schools nearby is another pull factor, according to Marc Schneiderman of Arlington Residential, a real estate agent: “Residents are getting used to the ease of living there, so there’s a lot of increase and downsizing in the region.”
This loyal clientele within Belsize Park – loosely defined as the area between Swiss Cottage and Chalk Farm tube stations and north of the Royal Free Hospital – has helped to maintain property values, where 85% of 279 sales in 2021 were apartments. , according to Hamptons using Land Registry data. Between 2019 and 2021 the average sale of apartments fell just 2%, to £1,000,790, while among the small number of property transactions the average sale rose 28% over two years to 3 £231,910.
According to Scott Joseph of estate agent Cluttons, the area attracts families with children at American School London, partly because it is more affordable than neighboring St John’s Wood where the school is located. The average price per square foot in Belsize Park in Q4 2021 was £1,100, lower than St John’s Wood (£1,500), Regent’s Park (£1,600) and Hampstead (£1,200), according to the index Savills main property in London.
Lyons, whose move to the area was prompted by schools as well as transportation, also found that “the quality of local restaurants has improved.” Last year, Cinder on Belsize Lane was opened by former Ritz chef Jake Finn, along with Calici, a new Italian on the site of the old Belsize Tavern.
Belsize Terrace, a pedestrianized and previously declining area of businesses making up the “village”, has been revived by the Belsize Village Business Association. “Businesses started closing and they were blighted by fly tipping,” says Robert Stephenson-Padron, co-founder and chief executive of a local home care provider. “We needed to increase footfall and beautify the streets and storefronts.”
In July 2020, the Association organized the Steatery, a 14-day outdoor dining event on the terrace which has become a permanent feature. “For the first time in 37 years, the area has a sense of community,” says Michael McHale, who was born nearby and bought an apartment close to his family home. “I got to know more local people than ever before.”
Still, Stephenson-Padron lives in Chiswick. “In Belsize Park, I couldn’t find any property available through Buyer Help [the government scheme offering loans for first-time buyers] because there were no new build programs offering homes below £600,000,” he says, referring to the policy’s price cap. At The Firehouse, 20 apartments in a converted Arts and Crafts style fire station are now priced at £730,000; at 21 Belsize Lane, a recent upscale block of 10 apartments, prices start at £1.2million.
The Italianate stucco villas on Buckland Crescent, Belsize Square and Belsize Park Gardens were built in the 19th century by Daniel Tidey – the developer also behind Chelsea Boltons’ eastern crescent. Today, two-bedroom apartments in these properties with high ceilings and period details cost between £900,000 and £1.2 million; Tidey also built mews properties around Belsize Lane.
From the 1870s, Eton College developed its lands in the area, such as Eton Avenue. Around the turn of the century, Glenloch Insurance Company built red-brick terraced houses on Glenilla, Glenloch, Glenmore and Howitt Roads – streets which offer a higher proportion of houses undivided into flats than others in the area. In June a six-bedroom house in Glenmore sold for £3.3million, another is up for sale for £3.999million.
Lack of off-street parking can push shoppers into St John’s Wood, says Bambos Haralambous of agent Goldschmidt & Howland: “The best options for this are on Eton Avenue, Strathray Gardens, Lancaster Grove, Ornan Road and Perceval Avenue.
The eastern fringes of the area were popular with modernist artists in the 1930s, with the Bauhaus-influenced Isokon building one of its architectural landmarks, as well as the purpose-built artists’ studios around Parkhill Road, which once housed sculptor Barbara Hepworth, says Adam Yamey, the author of Under a Vast Sky: Hampstead and Surroundings. “In fact, the area hasn’t changed much since I went to school there in the 1960s.”
Anne Stevens of the Belsize Society, set up to prevent a motorway from being built in the area in the 1970s, agrees: “It’s a low-key area, with more functional than high-end stores, but this isn’t ain’t a Hampstead for the poor.”
What you can buy. . .
Studio, £325,000 A 26 m² studio on the second floor of a mansion near Belsize Park station. The property comes with a freehold share and is on the market with Chestertons
One bedroom apartment, £730,000 An apartment with almost 50m² of living space in the fire station, a new conversion of a Grade II listed fire station in an Arts and Crafts style. Reserved parking is available for some residents at an additional cost. Available through Goldschmidt and Howland
House, £3.999 million A six bedroom, four bathroom Edwardian townhouse on Glenloch Road. Distributed over five floors, the property includes a ground floor studio with its own entrance, offering the possibility of independent use. For sale with Savills
Belsize Park has three underground stations: Belsize Park and Chalk Farm on the Northern Line and Swiss Cottage on the Jubilee Line. Hampstead Heath, South Hampstead and Finchley Road & Frognall are on the Overground line.
The many schools in the area include St Mary’s School Hampstead, South Hampstead High School, South Hampstead Junior School, The Hall School, Hereward House, Sarum Hall, Trevor-Roberts School and Southbank International School.