Of all the suburbs in Britain none has become quite so politicised as North London. This slightly leafy (and lefty) swathe in and around Islington – with Hampstead Heath marking its northern edge and Regent’s Park its southern boundary – is treated by our recent political leaders as a kind of shorthand for, to borrow a phrase from Suella Braverman, the ‘tofu-eating wokerati’.
Liz Truss took a dig at her privileged metropolitan enemies who ‘taxi from North London townhouses to the BBC studio’ to criticise her, ignoring the fact that Islington is not all Upper Street boutiques and multi-million pound homes. Islington is one of London’s most deprived boroughs, and more than a third of children in Camden live in low-income families.
Truss followed the party line set by Boris Johnson, who savaged the ‘trendy Islington lawyers’ leading the Labour party – conveniently forgetting that he once lived in the borough with his ex-wife Marina Wheeler, a King’s Counsel. Even Private Eye’s longest running cartoon is devoted to the grimness of life up North (London) – from its 100-pound shops to the need to decommission one’s home clay tandoor oven to tackle the cost-of-living crisis.
And yet for all the vilification and mockery, when it comes to property it is the owners of those North London townhouses who are laughing last. Camden has seen the strongest asking price growth of any borough in the capital over the past year, with prices up almost 13 per cent to an average of £1.073 million, according to new data from Rightmove. Islington has seen prices jump 8.5 per cent in the same period, to an average £797,000. London-wide asking prices grew 5.3 per cent. Research from estate agents Hamptons, meanwhile, shows that prices in Camden have leapt by 200 per cent in the past two decades, while prices in Islington are up 189 per cent.