First-time buy­ers and young fam­i­lies are cre­at­ing a fresh com­mu­nity buzz in this re­gen­er­ated Zone 2 neigh­bour­hood. By Anthea Masey

London Evening Standard (West End Final B) - ES Homes and Property - - Front Page -

AF­TER 15 months of traf­fic and pedes­trian chaos the fin­ish­ing line is in sight for Arch­way, the north Lon­don neigh­bour­hood which is emerg­ing from a £12.8 mil­lion facelift. The hated gy­ra­tory round­about has been swept away and a new pub­lic square has been created at the bot­tom of High­gate Hill in front of the Arch­way Tav­ern, the pub that fa­mously fea­tured on the cover of The Kinks’ 1971 al­bum, Muswell Hill­bil­lies.

Sit­ting astride the A1 at the bot­tom of the steep hill lead­ing to High­gate, Arch­way used to be one of those Lon­don dis­tricts that peo­ple ei­ther passed through on their way to some­where else, or rushed to when they needed Whittington Hos­pi­tal A&E de­part­ment. Now it is be­com­ing a des­ti­na­tion in its own right.

Lo­cal es­tate agent Shaun Cun­ning­ham, of Kin­leigh Folkard & Hay­ward, is pleased to re­port that the area’s leafy roads of Vic­to­rian houses, well-rated pri­mary schools, Zone 2 lo­ca­tion and good trans­port links are at­tract­ing an in­creas­ing num­ber of first-time buy­ers and young fam­i­lies.

Over the last cou­ple of years, change has come thick and fast to the cen­tre of Arch­way. The area’s tallest build­ing, 17- storey Van­tage Point, has been re­clad and con­verted into 118 flats for rent by de­vel­oper Es­sen­tial Liv­ing, while eight-storey Ham­lyn House has been con­verted into a Premier Inn ho­tel with a ground-floor res­tau­rant. Mean­while, de­vel­oper Bode is about to launch an­other of­fice-to-res­i­den­tial con­ver­sion at nearby Hill House and re­vamp the Arch­way shop­ping mall.

Folk­lore has it that Arch­way is where Dick Whittington and his cat heard the Bow bells ring out: “Turn again, Dick Whittington, thrice Lord Mayor of Lon­don”. The spot is marked with a mon­u­ment fea­tur­ing a small stone cat in High­gate Hill near the junc­tion with Mag­dala Av­enue. There is an­other Whittington cat — a flo­ral one — at the en­trance to Whittington Park in Hol­loway Road, along with a new mu­ral de­pict­ing the plucky Whittington, his mea­gre pos­ses­sions tied up in a scarf car­ried on a stick.

The story is largely myth­i­cal of course. There was a Richard Whittington who was Mayor of Lon­don three times be­tween 1397 and 1419 but far from be­ing a pen­ni­less trav­eller he was the son of a wealthy mer­chant who ap­pren­ticed him to a City mercer. As for the cat, the the­ory is that Whittington, who was es­sen­tially a city com­mod­ity trader, did have a cat but rather than be­ing of the fe­line va­ri­ety, it was a type of coal barge.

Still, there’s no deny­ing Whittington left his mark on Arch­way. As well as a hos­pi­tal and a park, there is Paunt­ley Street, named af­ter the vil­lage in Glouces­ter­shire where he grew up, and Fitzwar­ren Gar­dens — a ref­er­ence to the fam­ily he mar­ried into.

Arch­way is on the A1, the Great North Road out of Lon­don. Four-and-a-half miles north of cen­tral Lon­don, it has High­gate to the north, High­bury to the east, Is­ling­ton and Cam­den Town to the south and Tufnell Park and Ken­tish Town to the west.

Pho­to­graphs: Daniel Lynch

Green space mat­ters: right, Whittington Park, has foot­ball pitches and a com­mu­nity café Walk this way: left, smart new pedes­tri­anised space is key to the area’s rad­i­cal makeover

Re­gen­er­a­tion: the gy­ra­tory round­about has gone and a new pub­lic square has been created in a £12.8 mil­lion 15-month pro­ject

Child’s play: Whittington Park play area’s a fam­ily favourite

Pop­u­lar pit stop: Bread and Bean café in Junc­tion Road

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