Living in Clerkenwell:the Zone 1 neighbourhood with house prices on the up and Crossrail on the horizon – Homes and Property

Clerkenwell has a remarkable reputation as the nerve centre of British creativity.

There are more creative businesses per square mile in this medieval central London enclave than in any other part of the UK, from architects, designers and tech firms to eco-tea brewers and ice cream makers.

But Zone 1 Clerkenwell today is also rapidly evolving, from start-up capital of Britain into a thriving urban village with new bars, restaurants and galleries opening despite Covid-19, and luxurious new homes on offer.

Plans were unveiled last month for an 8 million illustration and graphics gallery, featuring the archive of Quentin Blake, best known for his iconic collaboration with Roald Dahl.

Work is due to start on the site, near Sadlers Wells Theatre, next year ahead of a 2023 opening.

Next year Clerkenwell will firm up its transport links when Crossrail finally opens at Farringdon.

And the Old Sessions House, the Clerkenwell Green landmark where Charles Dickens began his literary career as a cub court reporter, has been newly repurposed as the Sessions Arts Club, with restaurant, bar, exhibitions and events.

New life for a landmark: Old Sessions House at Clerkenwell Green, once the criminal court where Charles Dickens was a cub reporter, is now Sessions Arts Club

Clerkenwell was recently named as one of the last three Zone 1 pre-gentrification locations, the others being Elephant & Castle and Kings Cross.

Average prices stand at 843,000, according to research from Hamptons International, up just over three per cent between 2018 and last year, and up 12 per cent in the past five years. At the turn of the Millennium the average Clerkenwell home cost less than 270,000.

Dominic Fletcher, branch manager of Winkworth estate agents, says typical buyers these days include first-timers with about 500,000 to 600,000 to spend this would buy a one-bedroom period or purpose-built flat and overseas parents buying digs for children studying at one of Londons nearby universities.

Families come to the area in search of its elegant Georgian townhouses at a comparatively affordable price.

The most sought-after option is a home on one of the garden squares just off Amwell Street, priced at 2.5 million to 3 million.

Some of these buyers are rippling out from nearby Bloomsbury, where a similar home would cost 3 million to 4 million.

When Nick Horowitz was 17, his family decided to swap leafy Crouch End for gritty Clerkenwell. The two locations could barely have been more different.

What was so exciting for me, was we were close to the trendy parts of London, says Nick.

Although Clerkenwell itself was very much a lost and forgotten space then, only at the beginning of being up and coming, now everyone wants to come here.

Nick, now 31, shares his flat with his dog, Boss, and works at the creative agency he set up with his younger brother, The Clerkenwell Brothers, enjoying the bars and restaurants and a quieter community atmosphere at weekends.

Amwell Street itself has become a village within Clerkenwell, with a primary school, independent shops and small galleries, making the perfect antidote to hectic Exmouth Market.

From 955,000: flats at Postmark London

New homes tend to be warehouse conversions in small boutique schemes.

But the big new story is Postmark London, a 1.2 billion redevelopment of the former Mount Pleasant Sorting Office with 681 homes on a 6.25-acre site.

One-bedroom flats start at 955,000, with two-bedroom flats from 1,345,000 (postmarklondon.co.uk). There will also be 163 lower-cost homes on the site, either to rent at subsidised levels or to buy on a shared-ownership basis. They will be marketed by One Housing Group (onehousing.co.uk).

The first Postmark London residents are expected to move in this year a mix of young professionals from the tech and creative industries. Health and leisure facilities on site include a wellness centre.

Monastic Clerkenwells earliest residents were a sisterhood of nuns. Its reputation for holiness began to crumble in the 17th century as hedonism took hold.

In 1683 the entrepreneur Richard Sadler opened a music hall and spa, now known Sadlers Wells.

Rich Londoners including the Duke of Northumberland and Oliver Cromwell built fine houses close to Clerkenwell Green, treating the area as a pleasant resort close to the City.

Historically, small businesses such as jewellers, clock makers and printers were drawn to the local warehouses. Clerkenwell also had some notorious brothel keepers, beggars and thieves and prisons of brutal correction followed.

After the Second World War the areas industries declined and it went to sleep until the Eighties, when artists and creatives began to take studio space in cheap, semi-derelict industrial buildings while developers began to experiment with early loft flats. Clerkenwells reputation was cemented in 2009 with the launch of the annual Clerkenwell Design Week, showcasing local and international talent.

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Living in Clerkenwell:the Zone 1 neighbourhood with house prices on the up and Crossrail on the horizon - Homes and Property

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