Park Life: Queen's Park

Explore why Queen’s Park is one of the capital’s most fashionable areas thanks to its family-friendly, bohemian vibe, imposing homes – and, of course, the eponymous park.

21 September, 2021

Queen’s Park has long been popular with artists, musicians and creative types who have revelled in its village feel. And the area recently enjoyed brief notoriety as the home of former minister Matt Hancock and his family, whose house was mobbed for several days earlier this year by reporters. But after feeling slightly down at heel in the 1980s and 1990s, the area’s fortunes changed in the mid noughties as it found favour with the edgy and media orientated young professionals who eschewed the more conventional Parsons Green and Chiswick. Today’s premium price tags on most properties means that it’s mainly families and wealthy singles with enough cash to move here rather than first-time buyers, who appreciate its great schools and nurseries and 20-minute commute to central London. There’s also a plethora of tempting places to eat and drink, as well as yoga studios and a popular farmers’ market to stimulate body and mind. Bound by Maida Vale, Kensal Rise, West Hampstead and Ladbroke Grove, it may be small, but it’s certainly mighty with the 30-acre park slap bang in the middle.

Beautiful game

Opened in 1887 and named in honour of Queen Victoria, Queen’s Park Rangers football club got their name after kicking off in the area back in 1886 before moving to their current Shepherd’s Bush home in 1917. Queen Victoria gave the park a more lyrical moniker after its original name, Kilburn Recreation Ground, was changed to commemorate her Golden Jubilee, in memory of the day when she processed from the newly opened railway station, down Salusbury Road to the Royal Agricultural Show in July 1879 – the most ambitious event of its kind ever staged. The well-loved green space might not get many royal visitors these days, but it’s central to community life. An annual Queen’s Park Day each September is the nearest North London gets to a country fête, when residents join cake and jammaking competitions, try donkey rides and get their dogs donning fancy-dress, while sampling eclectic street food stalls.

The park is compact and friendly, yet it’s big enough to house a small children’s farm, good playground with a paddling pool and large sandpit, tennis courts, pitch and putt and a cafe, plus a designated quiet garden. Nearby Tiverton is another smaller open space popular with dog owners, while larger open spaces within striking distance include Roundwood Park, Gladstone Park and Wormwood Scrubs, while Hampstead Heath is just a short trip away. 

When residents have had enough of park life, there are two buzzing high streets to visit: Salusbury Road to the east and Chamberlayne Road to the west, both with a plethora of independent shops, artisan bakeries, gastropubs, cafes and bars. Salusbury Road boasts a Planet Organic and a Gail’s as well as a post office and several florists, hairdressers, chemists and a great independent bookshop, Queen’s Park Books, which hosts the annual Queen’s Park Book Festival. It’s the only London book festival held solely in a public park with a tented village and pop-up bookshop inspiring a weekend of lively literary action.

Starry cornucopia

On Sundays, what seems like the entire population of NW6 congregates at the farmers’ market in Salusbury Primary School’s playground where it’s not just cabbages and jars of honey on offer for discerning North West Londoners, but stalls selling a cornucopia of delights, such as oysters, ostrich burgers and gyozas.

After some retail therapy, sitting outside a pavement café they might spot one of Queen’s Park’s famous residents such as ex-Vogue editor Alexandra Shulman, actor Thandiwe Newton or singer Lily Allen. You’ll even find it described on the pages of some literary works, as local author Zadie Smith grew up here and set her novels White Teeth and NW in the area. The video for The Jam’s When You’re Young was also filmed at the park bandstand in 1979. Watering hole, The Salusbury is a popular pub with its own attached deli and wine store, while Australian eatery Milk Beach in Lonsdale Road serves up excellent coffee and brunch. A disused garage on Lonsdale Road is home to the Wolfpack Brewery and its vast range of craft beers, while fun nights out are to be had at the nearby Kiln Theatre and The Lexi Cinema in Kensal Rise, a popular local two-screen independent cinema that donates 100% of its profits to charity.

Queen’s Park may be the least glitzy of this part of North West London, but this makes it arguably more affordable than neighbouring Belsize Park, Notting Hill, Westbourne Grove and Maida Vale. The avenues between Salusbury Road and the park – Hopefield, Summerfield and Montrose – are highly coveted for their stylish Victorian terraces painted in cheery shades, which sell at a premium as they’ve got the park right on their doorstep. The area still boasts a few intact grand Victorian villas, especially on the streets around the park including Milman, Kingswood and Chevening roads. Some families after even more space often move slightly further north to the 1930s houses towards Brondesbury. South of Queen’s Park and north of Harrow Road, The Queen’s Park Estate conservation area hosts small terrace houses built between 1874 and 1882 by the Artisans, Labourers & General Dwellings Company. The much-hated brutalist South Kilburn Estate has been mostly demolished and replaced with award-winning new development, the Kilburn Quarter, while formerly unloved land near the station has made way for stylish contemporary block, Queen’s Park Place.

Under Brent Council the Salusbury, Malorees, Wilberforce and Ark Franklin primary schools are all rated good, and generally oversubscribed. Queen’s Park Community School, the area’s only state secondary, is also rated good. Private schools within easy reach include South Hampstead, UCS, Francis Holland and Godolphin & Latymer. Getting into central London is a breeze as the Bakerloo Line arrives at Oxford Circus in under 20 minutes, while the Overground Euston to Watford Junction line takes 12 minutes to Euston. On the bus, route 6 serves Edgware Road, Oxford Street and Charing Cross, while the 36 takes in Paddington, Victoria, Camberwell, Peckham and New Cross.

Property Market

Simon Patton, Lettings Director for this patch of London, says the key change everyone in the private rented sector is waiting to see in North West London is whether the international tenants will return in former numbers, whether it be corporate relocators, trainee nurses or students.  “The nearby Royal Free London is a big influence in and around Queen’s Park and Belsize Park,” he says. “So far the signs are good, but not the numbers we would expect in a normal year, but everyone is watching the news with the same anticipation: what impact will Covid have over the winter months? “But overall, I think the 20-somethings who quit London to go back and live with their parents are beginning to return slowly – but in the meantime we’ve had to have honest conversations with landlords about rents.” Patton says that once the rental market revives in the coming months, another key trend will continue to play out, one that was already gathering pace before Covid – namely rental property quality. “Tenants increasingly now expect higher spec interiors, so this presents challenges for landlords who have longer-term tenants who are now moving out. “Landlords are increasingly up against purpose-built, hotel-standard build-torent blocks with community gyms and cinemas, and quality/high spec bathrooms. It’s been in the background within the market for the past two years.”

Why has KFH opened a branch in Queen’s Park? Robert McLaughlin, Sales Director, says the new office is a natural progression having been in and around that area for a long time via KFH’s existing West Hampstead branch. “This is because competition is so hot within the NW6 postcode around neighbouring West Hampstead that the large period homes and larger luxury flats in Queen’s Park are now on more people’s property search radar,” he says. “Queen’s Park also has the kind of artisan, theatre and creative industries community that, like much of this part of North West London, gives it a certain feel that City workers like. “Also, the state schools have improved in Queen’s Park [over recent years]. It’s not an undiscovered gem – it’s been established for a while now – but we believe we can offer something there that’s not being offered by others, in part due to the KFH network of branches both locally and across London.”


Branching out

One set of new faces in the area are the staff of the new KFH branch on Salusbury Road, which opened for business in July. The duo leading its sales and lettings team are both experienced estate agents who have spent time during the pandemic preparing for the launch. Dillen Vengradasalon is looking after sales. He’s worked for KFH for six-and-a half years on and off, but was recently lured back to launch and run its new Queen’s Park branch. “I was keen to return because I love the company’s work ethic and they give me the space to do my job well,” he says. “My aim is to help both my buyers and my sellers and match people to the right property, as well as getting the best price for the vendor. “The pandemic has created a huge demand for properties with home offices, private outside space and properties close to local parks, which makes Queen's Park a prime area,” he says.

Rebecca Beveridge, who has worked at KFH for nearly ten years, heads up the lettings side. She was brought up in the area and has launched the new office.  “Queen’s Park has really changed over time into a desirable area including its high street, which now has boutiques serving the people from the creative and business worlds attracted to the area right now,” she says. “I like to think of it as a mini St John's Wood, but you get more for your money – Notting Hill is only five minutes away by car and the bottom of the M1 is only ten minutes’ away. “The rental market here has really bounced back since the initial shock of Covid. Demand is higher than it has been in over a year and a half because of the low availability of property which is really driving the rental prices up. It has been a complete 180 degree turnaround.” Beveridge says the area is a favourite with landlords because it offers a lot more value than neighbouring areas. She says due to the good schools it is popular with families and corporate tenants as they want as much space as their money will buy. “Only this week I've had enquiries from Google, Facebook and KPMG, which just goes to show the popularity of Queen's Park,” she adds.

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