Area Guide – Lifestyle – Schools
Firmly established as one of east London’s prime neighbourhoods, Hoxton is sought out by well-paid young City, tech and start-up workers who are willing to stump up for the privilege of being able to live near work and hang out at some of London’s coolest bars and restaurants without having to pay for a cab home afterwards.
However, today’s locals need deep pockets — or a very generous Bank of Mum and Dad — to even consider calling Hoxton home.
In Hackney borough, Hoxton lies just north of the City of London and is bordered by Regent’s Canal on the north side, Wharf Road and City Road to the west, Old Street to the south and Kingsland Road to the east.
Over 500 years its history has been extraordinary. In Tudor times it was a weekend getaway for the rich city burgers, and was later home to Gunpowder Plotters. Later still, in Victorian times it was a residential district favoured by the middle classes.
The coming of the railways brought yet more change, as the Victorians started moving out of central London, leaving Hoxton the province of the destitute.
The former homes of the comfortably off became almshouses for the old and poor, or workhouses, lunatic asylums or schools. Hoxton quickly became known as one of the capital’s worst slums, rife with crime.
In the years following the Second World War, yet more houses were demolished, this time to make way for a series of new council estates which today stand cheek by jowl with swanky steel and glass apartment buildings and expensively tricked-out warehouse apartments.
Hoxton’s rebirth was ignited by a loose collective of young British artists — rather unimaginatively named the Young British Artists — who during the late Eighties and early Nineties began exhibiting together.
Their work was extremely headline friendly — think Damien Hirst’s preserved shark and Tracey Emin’s dishevelled bed — but they had yet to start earning serious money, so they moved to the unfashionable former slum where they could afford cheap workspace in old warehouses.
In 2000 Hoxton’s under-the-radar arty period ended when the high-profile White Cube gallery opened on Hoxton Square. Suddenly this overlooked backwater of east London, just three miles from the centre of the capital, became famous as the beating heart of contemporary art in London.
Despite its recent ascent, however, modern Hoxton remains a moderately more affordable option compared to its supercharged neighbour Shoreditch, and as a result it has a different sort of vibe.
“The difference between Hoxton and Shoreditch is that the prices are just a bit lower, so you do get a wider demographic of people,” says Peter Hunt, account manager at Urban Spaces estate agents.
“You also have some period houses as well as the typical loft conversions, new flats and local authority estates, which opens up the area to families. Hoxton has also got some very good schools.”
The property scene
The lack of available building land means there are no big developments in Hoxton, nor any on the horizon. Most developers are forced to build small-scale boutique homes on limited former industrial or derelict sites.
New build aside, there are plenty of alternatives for Hoxton house hunters. Eric Cheung, sales manager at Marsh & Parsons, suggests opting for a purpose-built “second-hand” flat, with two-bedroom homes for between £400,000 and £450,000.
A former council flat — there are some good-quality low-rise red-brick blocks in the area — would be the cheapest option. Cheung says a two-bedroom example would cost about £400,000.
Generally, homes are more expensive the closer you get to Old Street, while the best value is found towards Haggerston Park.
There are small clusters of lovely Georgian townhouses, many of them converted to flats, which survived wartime bombing and post-war social housebuilding.
The likes of Micawber Street have the kind of homes that would be worth many millions in Islington or prime west London. In Hoxton, says Cheung, a three-bedroom townhouse would cost about £1 million, and a two-bedroom flat about £700,000.
The glamours Hoxton project, Long & Waterson in Long Street offers 119 high-spec loft-style flats that will be move-in ready in spring.
Designed by New York’s ODA architects, the development is set around a series of landscaped gardens on different levels, inspired by the Big Apple’s iconic High Line park.
The scheme includes a cinema, spa and gym. Prices start at £675,000 for a one-bedroom flat, with two-bedroom flats from £915,000 and three-bedroom homes from £1,125,000. Visit knightfrank.co.uk for more.
Regan Yard is a boutique option of six flats, each with a balcony or terrace, in a low-rise red-brick block in Regan Way, due to complete early next year.
Off Hoxton Street, it’s just 0.1 miles from Hoxton station and the style is contemporary, with grey and white gloss kitchens, and engineered oak floors.
One-bedroom flats start at £570,000, two-bedroom flats from £635,000 and three-bedroom flats from £720,000. Visit currell.com for details.
Hoxton Press in Penn Street is the redevelopment of the former Colville Estate, close to the Regent’s Canal. Its two hexagonal towers are perhaps the closest thing Hoxton has to skyscrapers, although the tallest is a modest 20 storeys.
The towers will eventually comprise 198 flats and the first residents will move in next year. Homes in the second phase of the development have a guide price “from £660,000” . Call Anthology on 020 3308 9813.
This isn’t a great hunting ground for the young and cash strapped. Many of the new homes are priced above the Help to Buy London threshold of £600,000, and small developments aren’t obliged to provide any shared-ownership homes for first timers.
Young City professionals love Hoxton’s bars and restaurants, and being able to walk to work. Expect to pay about £1,700 a month for a one-bedroom flat, or £2,600 for a two-bedroom flat. High-spec new-build flats command a premium of up to 30 per cent.
Tom Page, manager of Fyfe Mcdade’s Shoreditch office, says: “Renters tend to be 18 to 30 year olds in the creative and start-up industries, be it film, fashion or tech.”
Hoxton’s 24/7 urban lifestyle and comparative lack of larger properties might not lend themselves to family life. Exiting thirtysomethings tend to stay east, with a home in Stoke Newington or Victoria Park Village high on their wish lists if they can afford it. If not, newly fashionable Leyton awaits.
Hoxton straddles two postcodes, N1 and E2. It shares the former with Islington, Canonbury, and Barnsbury, and the latter with Haggerston, Bethnal Green and Cambridge Heath.
Hoxton Square itself, according to Urban Spaces estate agent Peter Hunt. “It has got the Shoreditch vibe, and it is on the northern tip of the Shoreditch Triangle.
The other big pull is the square itself, a lovely bit of green space to sit out with a glass of wine in nice weather.” Expect to pay around £600,000 for a one-bedroom flat, whether purpose built or warehouse style, or around £800,000 for a two-bedroom flat.
Up and coming
Haberdasher Street’s late-Victorian and early Edwardian terraces have been converted into offices and flats. Not only is period housing rare in the area and therefore a good investment, but prices are relatively reasonable.
Hunt estimates that a one-bedroom flat would cost around £400,000 and a two-bedroom flat £600,000-£650,000.
Hoxton Station is on London Overground’s East London line. It opened in 2010, and from this month has 24-hour services at weekends.
Whitechapel Tube is two stops away, providing links to the District and Hammersmith & City lines. Northbound services run towards Dalston Junction and Camden Town. Hoxton station is in Zone 1 and an annual season ticket costs £1,320.
The London Borough of Hackney is Labour controlled. Band D council tax for 2017/18 stands at £1,328.99.
Shops and restaurants
There’s a fabulous and ever-expanding range of places to eat and drink, from the cosy (Petit Pois Bistro), to the hip (Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen).
And you are unlikely to get bored because pop-up bars and restaurants crop up around Hoxton all the time. Shopping in Hoxton Road is pretty uninspiring — although Hoxton Street Market is good for bargains.
On a boringly practical note there are a couple of mini supermarkets but not many places to do a proper shop.
The nicest way to wake up and smell the roses in Hoxton is to stroll along to nearby Columbia Road Flower Market early on a Sunday morning.
Within walking distance, Shoreditch Park has football and rugby pitches, playgrounds, beach volleyball and ping pong tables, and Haggerston Park offers a BMX cycle track, pond, orchard, outdoor gym, and sports pitches.
Leisure and the arts
The beautiful and innovative Hoxton Hall theatre is putting on a season of plays next spring with all-women cast and crews.
Hoxton isn’t really multiplex territory, but the nearby Electric Cinema Shoreditch is a glamorous small screening room offering current releases and cult classics.
The simply amazing Geffrye Museum of the Home is a must for anyone with the slightest interest in interior design. And while White Cube is long since gone, there are plenty of commercial galleries to explore, with the Whitechapel Gallery nearby.
Virginia Primary School, just over the border into Tower Hamlets, has an “outstanding” Ofsted report, with inspectors enthusing over its “highly skilled” teachers and the pupils’ love for learning. Hoxton also has a trio of primaries rated “good” by the Government schools inspector.
Teaching standards at Hoxton Garden Primary, in Ivy Street, have “improved dramatically” in recent years. Probably as a result pupils “enjoy their learning, try hard, and behave well”.
Thomas Fairchild Community School, in Forston Street, particularly impressed inspectors with its pupils’ progress in reading, and with high teaching standards.
Parents of pupils at St Monica’s Catholic Primary School in Hoxton Street love its family atmosphere, while Ofsted noted its enthusiastic pupils, and some really interesting projects like working with the local food bank.
There are no secondary schools in the heart of Hoxton. The nearest options include City of London Academy Islington, which holds a “good” Ofsted report, with students making strong progress, even “from low starting points”.
Haggerston School, which enjoys above-average GCSE results but less progress at A-level, is also rated “good”.
Private schools are thin on the ground locally, but the high-performing City of London School (boys), and City of London School for Girls are a two-mile bus ride away.
As for further education, Hoxton is home to the Court Theatre Training Company drama school and the National Centre for Circus Arts. The Prince’s School of Traditional Arts, founded by the Prince of Wales, is also here, offering degree and short courses in everything from calligraphy to icon painting.