Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

READY TO BE CONVERTED; on a Mission to Be Green? Buy a Wreck at Auction and Give It a Miraculous Eco-Refurb, Says David Spittles; ECOLIVING A BIG GREEN PROJECT

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

READY TO BE CONVERTED; on a Mission to Be Green? Buy a Wreck at Auction and Give It a Miraculous Eco-Refurb, Says David Spittles; ECOLIVING A BIG GREEN PROJECT

Article excerpt

Byline: David Spittles

TOUGH economic times require a more resourceful approach to property matters. One way to get extra value for money is to buy a run-down house or a redundant commercial building and transform it into a fabulous one-off home commanding a resale premium.

Auctions are a good place to start.

This is where you get the biggest stock of unmodernised houses for sale.

This year many more council-owned properties -- including handsome Victorian terraced homes in popular inner-city areas -- will come on to the market as local authorities try to raise more money.

Small workshops and warehouses, garages and light industrial premises, even churches, also pop up at auction. Currently there is less competition from developers because margins are too low for conversion projects. If you are an owner-occupier, especially one who is prepared to get your hands dirty on a project, now is a good time.

Close to improving King's Cross is a good place to put down roots if you want to live in a central London neighbourhood of genuine character with a family-friendly infrastructure -- parish church, primary school, newly-built health centre and a collection of small, independent shops.

Amwell Street forms the spine of the area. It was built in the 1820s as part of the Lloyd Baker estate, a quaint enclave of flat-fronted brick terraces and fine garden squares. Part of the estate fell into the ownership of Islington council in 1975, which helps explain why the architectural fabric -- listed though not always in pristine condition -- is more intact than many inner-city districts.

The central stretch of Amwell Street is lined with classic Georgian houses and Quality Street-style shop fronts with residential upper parts. It is rare to find such an eclectic mix of shops serving the everyday needs of locals.

There is not one familiar high street brand among the 25 retailers. …

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