Back on home turf

If you are an Arsenal fan then Highbury Square has to be the location of the home of your dreams.

Designed by architect Allies and Morrison, the 700-plus development of luxury apartments at north London’s Highbury Square is built within the walls of Arsenal FC’s famous former stadium inNorth London. The Capital’s newest garden square has deftly scored a hat trick of its own by providing prospective homeowners with three major selling points: a stunning living environment; high quality sustainable homes in the heart of the city; and the chance to live – literally – in a football stadium.

The former football ground is still clearly visible, despite the redevelopment, which took three years to complete. The architects have cleverly designed the apartments within the confines of the former stands – on the east and west sides of the old pitch the stands have been converted into flats, retaining original architectural features such as the beautiful art deco ‘sunburst’ glazing at each end. New metal roofs match those on the original stands but now penthouse flats occupy the roof space. What was once the pitch has been turned into a series of gardens by Gold Medal-winning landscape designer Christopher Bradley-Hole, well known to visitors to Chelsea Flower Show. Most notable of these is aMemorialGarden, where the ashes of more than 500 Arsenal supporters are buried. The scale and shape of Highbury Stadium has been lovingly retained and the end result is a perfect example of what can be done with care and expert design, to preserve our built heritage while creating something new and exciting. Londoners obviously agree because now fewer than 10 of the 728 flats remain unsold.

With a £700,000-plus price tag, apartments at the former home of Arsenal don’t come cheap but apart from the obvious attractions of the development, you do get plenty for your money. Located opposite Arsenal tube station,Highbury Squareis well connected by the Piccadilly line to centralLondon, only a 15 minute ride toPiccadilly Circusand 11 minutes to the City. And whether you live in an inward or outward facing apartment, the views are worth paying a premium for.

Also included are:

  • Two acres of landscaped gardens on the site of the former Arsenal pitch
  • 24-hour concierge
  • Terraces or balconies to most apartments
  • Secure underground parking
  • Fitness centre with swimming pool (yet to be completed)

The flats that are still to be sold range from £775,00 to £950,000 for the last remaining penthouse and are being sold with 254 year (less six days) leases. Ground rent is set at £400 a year and service charges are estimated at between £2000-3,500. The development has excellent environmental credentials and has one of the largest solar heating installations inEurope. A Combined Heat and Power (CHP) system at basement level provides the heating and hot water for the whole development and the electricity generated powers the external lighting and communal areas. So even if the flats are a little pricey, at least the bills won’t leave residents feeling sick as a parrot.

John Baldwin from Pembertons is the man with day to day responsibility for managingHighbury Square, and he describes the building as the “crown jewel” of the properties he has managed over a 15-year career. All developments present their own challenges, and the modern high-specification design ofHighbury Squarecertainly keeps John on his toes.

“It is a wonderful development” says John, “But with a design that does require us to keep on top of all maintenance issues. With a modern building this means managing a number of specialist firms who look after individual aspects of the development. We use DNG Delta to maintain all the mechanical and electrical issues, Willerbys look after the soft landscaping , with two gardeners working for a day each week, and Acescott for the windows. The windows have to be cleaned externally every 4 weeks, and it is a specialist job due to both the height of parts of the development, as well as the immense surface area that needs to be cleaned. The site includes some wonderful water features, which were installed and maintained by OCMIS.

Dealing with the numerous contractors is just half the job for John, with the demands of the residents occupying the rest of his time.

“We get between 30 and 40 emails a day” he says, “which all need to be dealt with promptly. John and his colleague, Louise Stirling, make sure that the residents are looked after by holding Bi-weekly surgeries, as well as using a monthly newsletter to keep leaseholders abreast of communal issues.

The inhabitants ofHighbury Squareare, primarily, younger professional people. But, as you would expect, there are also a number of Arsenal supporters who could not resist the opportunity to live in the iconic Highbury stadium.

“One gentleman, an Arsenal Season Ticket Holder, discovered that there was an apartment positioned exactly where he had had his seat, so he bought the flat,” says John.
That, in a nutshell, explains the unique appeal ofHighbury Square. It may have gardens designed by Christopher Bradley Hole and spectacular architecture by Allies and Morrison, but that is insignificant compared to the unique location….what true Gooner could resist living in the historic home of the Arsenal?

Red letter days

Highbury. A name that has fired the imagination of football fans since 1913 when Arsenal FC – then known as Woolwich Arsenal – moved to its new stadium in Highbury,North London. The scene of some of English football’s most exciting moments, Highbury stadium is one of the best-known buildings in north London and its iconic red-lettered frontage is familiar to fans the world over. Designed by renowned football architect Archibald Leitch, the original stadium had a single covered stand and three open terraces. In the 1930s new Art Deco east and west stands were built and a roof added to the North Bank terrace, which was bombed during World War Two and only rebuilt in the 1950s. At its peak, Highbury Stadium had a 60,000-fan capacity but the tragedies at Heysel and Hilsborough in the early 1990s saw the advent of new regulations and Highbury was converted to an all-seater stadium reducing capacity to just 38,419 spectators. Surrounded by housing and with its East Stand Grade ll listed, expansion was out of the question and Arsenal FC had little choice but to look for a new home. In 2006 the club moved to a new 60,000-plus ground at Ashburton Grove – the Emirates Stadium and Highbury was turned over to the developers.