In honour of Pride month, we interviewed David Gwinnutt, Senior Valuer at our Islington office. As well as being a prominent photographer that was recently featured in the National Portrait Gallery, David was voted no.16 on The Independent’s Pink List of top 100 most influential gay men for creating the Pink Jack.

What inspired you to become such an active ambassador for the LGBTQ community?

Despite growing up gay in the 60’s & 70’s, which was a much more prejudiced era, I was extremely fortunate and had a fairly easy time. I never doubted that being gay was OK. I always thought it was pretty cool, especially around the time of punk, when being different was a badge of honour.

What was your inspiration for the Pink Jack, and what was the response like?

I was trying to express my positive experience of being accepted, as well as my pride for being British. I think British people are really cool, especially when it comes to being gay. For example, on my travels as a young man, I’d find myself chatting to people and eventually they’d ask, ‘so have you got a girlfriend?’ and when I said ‘no I’m gay’, they’d always say, ‘oh we know someone who’s gay and he’s really nice!’. I realised that most people in the UK are cool with it on a personal level, it’s just some haters and bigoted press that try to spin it another way.

You’ve also designed a flag for the World Cup, and LGBTQ people attending in Russia. How did this come about?

I recently got in touch with the FA to see if I could help with their campaign to rid homophobia from the game. Through them I met Di Cunningham, who heads the LGBTQ England Supporters Club. Di asked me to create a design for them to take to Russia. I jumped at the chance as I’d had some ideas already.

For me, these designs are about celebrating the similarities between gay and straight people, not highlighting differences. With all the recent issues about homophobia in football and the lack of visible gay players I felt I wanted to challenge the more negative stereotypical perceptions about gay people (that they are weak, can’t catch a ball, can’t play football, etc). So I took the core element of the England badge, the Three Lions, which represents all the strong elements gay people are supposed to lack, and give them a gay twist. After all, what’s more fearsome than a rainbow lion?

Where did you first develop your passion for photography?

David’s portrait of Cerith Wyn Evans

In the studio of artist Brian Clarke in Moorgate, where I was crashing on the sofa and being a general layabout and freeloader. He had lots of photography books and I was fascinated by them. I thought I understood it as an art and felt I could do it.

My mum got me an Olympus Trip Instamatic camera, the one David Bailey advertised, and I started taking pictures. I did a series of images of a shower hose laid out in the bathtub looking all arty with the organic natural line of the hose in contrast to the more rectangular non-organic shape of the bath. Brian saw them and said he thought they showed potential and he encouraged me to take it further. So I applied to art school and went to Hornsey School of Art, which coincidentally is not far from where I’m now working.

What would you say are the most important or prevalent issues affecting the LGBTQ community today?

There’s still a lot of prejudice, whether it’s being rejected by your family or being hanged in Iran. I, or any LGBTQ person, can still be legitimately killed in Nigeria just for being who we are. There’s a long way to go for basic human rights around the world but in the UK, which is more culturally liberal, it’s mad to think some kids still can’t come out to their parents without fear of being abused or made homeless.

What advice would you give to a young person struggling with coming out?

Start slowly, and tell maybe just one very trusted person. And never think that it’s a negative thing.

With famous artist Maggie Hambling

How much have attitudes changed towards LGBTQ people in the past 20 years?

Hugely! We have equal rights at work – you can’t be sacked for being gay. We can get married and we’re more visible and therefore ‘normalised’ on TV. I meet gay couples on property viewings who have their adopted kids with them and I see gay couples holding hands or kissing around Islington. What’s weird is that I see this is society moving ahead of me, as I’m from a different era. I can enjoy it and enjoy seeing it, but it’s moving forward regardless of me and it gives me hope for the future.

This morning, Currell had the pleasure of attending Bisnow’s Future of East London event, hosted at the new Goodluck Hope development in the heart of the Docklands.

In true east London fashion, the event was held in a warehouse, with guests walking through a mini rainforest to get to the sales and marketing suite. The event was very fascinating, despite the cold weather!

Model of City Island (far end) and Goodluck Hope (closest), sister developments by Ballymore

The event consisted of a breakfast networking session, followed by two panel discussions.

The first was about east London as a true melting pot of culture, education and business – and what this means for developers. Some interesting points were raised by all panelists, who agreed that east London is one of the fastest changing and most diverse areas of London. With this in mind, investment in education and creative industries are key, with a particular focus on prioritising opportunities for local residents, especially young people.

The first discussion panel

Tim Reeve, COO of the Victoria and Albert Museum, discussed the new V&A East which is set to open in the Olympic Park in 2023. With east London being home to some of the poorest boroughs in the country, he discussed how to reconnect with their audience, especially with young people through the education syllabus. V&A East will differ hugely to the original V&A in South Kensington – with a completely different tone, presenting art in a way that is useful and accessible to young local people that want to pursue a career in the creative industries.

Another interesting point was raised about tourism, and the influx of people coming to stay in the east as opposed to central London. Elli Jafari, Managing Director of The Curtain hotel in Shoreditch, said that she’s seen tremendous amounts of interest from all sectors of tourism – not just young people coming to London for leisure. Professionals travelling for business who are used to staying at five star hotels in the City are now now willing to venture to the outer edges, and say they loved staying in Shoreditch.

Walking through the City Island development

The second panel talk focused on work spaces in east London. Although east London offices have traditionally been synonymous with trendy startups, creatives, and tech companies, this is beginning to change. Georgina Philippou, COO of the Financial Conduct Authority, discussed her company’s move to their brand new office space in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford. East London seems to be the most favourable place to build new places to work, as there’s much more land to build on, instead of trying to cram workers into pre-existing spaces.

The topic of wellness among working people was also discussed. Jacob Loftus, Founder & CEO at General Projects, talked about the emphasis developers are now placing on wellbeing for staff. Beyond the standard measures such as healthy food and fitness facilities, the focus is now shifting to accommodate mental health as well as physical. Outdoor spaces, relaxation/meditation areas, and a general attention to natural environments and comforts are coming to the forefront, as people are encouraged to take breaks from their screens and focus their minds elsewhere.

All in all, the event was a great insight into the different industries that are shaping east London’s revival, and we look forward to what’s to come in the future.

Consider government schemes

The Help to Buy ISA, Help to Buy London, Equity Loan, and Shared Ownership are all government backed schemes aimed at helping people get on the property ladder.

Shared ownership is less well known, but is a great way of buying a home if you can’t afford the mortgage on 100% of a home. With shared ownership, you can purchase a percentage of the property (between 25% and 75%) and pay rent on the remaining share. You can buy larger shares later on if you can afford it.

You can browse our shared ownership properties here.

Use a local estate agent

Estate agents that are based in the local area will of course know a lot about it – and its many benefits. They will know the transport links, the best schools, and what the property market is like in the area. This will be extremely beneficial when buying your property; after all, you’re not just buying a home, but the area it’s in too.

Be realistic about your budget

Before you even look for a property, it’s important to set a budget. You’ll need to make sure you can afford your monthly repayments to have your mortgage approved, and the checks have become stricter. Lenders will not only check if you can afford the repayments in your current financial situation, but will also ‘stress test’ to see if you will still be able to afford it if inflation rates go up, or if your circumstances change (e.g having a baby).

Budget for the other costs

As well as the mortgage, you’ll also need to factor in:

  • Survey costs
  • Solicitor’s fees
  • Removal costs
  • Buildings insurance
  • Furniture and decoration
  • Mortgage arrangement and valuation fees
  • Stamp Duty

Get on the electoral roll

As a precaution against fraud, lenders will check that you’re on the electoral roll when deciding whether or not to lend to you. So if you haven’t already, get registered.

Read the small print

When you make an application for a mortgage, be sure to read the small print and make sure everything sounds correct. If you spot an issue after the application has been sent, this could harm your credit rating. Every application you make leaves a record, and lots of applications in a short time period may be a red flag for fraud, resulting in bad credit.

Compare the market

As well as shopping around for your mortgage, make sure you compare property prices in the local area. Have a look at what similar properties were sold for, and how much their prices have changed over the years. This will give you an idea of how much you can sell it for in the future, as well as how much you should be paying now.

The past couple of years have seen a massive resurgence in eco-friendly shopping, and a dedication from many to start living a more sustainable lifestyle. If you’re looking to live more green- where better to start than at home? We’ve scoured the internet for our top picks of ethical homeware…

Soy Candle, Be Good Shop

Vegan friendly, chemical free, and made from 100% natural soy wax, this Nathalie Bond Organics candle fills your home with the sweetest scents, totally guilt-free. Even the container is green – the candle comes in a recycled glass jar, and is handmade in the UK.

Shop here.

Deep Sea Lampshade, The Maker Place

Designed and handmade in Kent by illustrator Emily Jepps, this beautiful screenprinted lampshade is made from 100% organic cotton. It’s also suitable for both pendant and lamp bases.

Shop here.

Geo Vessel, Secrets of Green

Secrets of Green’s geo vessels are individually handmade from sustainable and responsibly sourced plywood. They ensure that waste is kept at a minimum and use non-toxic paint and varnish.

Shop here.

Ceramic Coasters, Lusophile

This set of six ceramic coasters are hand crafted from pure white clay, and individually hand painted. The colours are perfect for a fresh, spring look – a perfect addition to any coffee table.

Shop here.

Organic Cotton Duvet Set, Ethical.market

Ethical.market’s duvet covers are fair trade, ethically sourced and produced in good working conditions in Jaipur. Staff here are on permanent contracts, with pensions and many additional benefits. They’re made from 100% organic cotton, and are of high-end hotel quality – so both your body and conscience can rest easy.

Shop here.

Stainless Steel Straws, Buy Me Once

Straws are one of the most widely consumed types of single use plastic, which many people and businesses are opting to stop using. Introduce this into your home with these stainless steel straws, which are BPA free and non-toxic (with no metallic taste!). They also come with a handy cleaning brush, and are dishwasher friendly.

Shop here.

Chai Organic Soap, The Future Kept

Made by the London Fields Soap Company with a beautiful combination of essential oils and black tea, this bar smells good and does good. It’s palm oil free, vegetarian, and 98% organic. It also comes in plastic-free packaging, and is manufactured in Hackney.

Shop here.

Linen Cushion, Aerende

Each of Aerende’s cushion covers (designed by Rosie Birkett) combines style and sustainability. They’re made from upcycled velvet and linen, and are cut and sewn at home by refugee women who have been rehoused in the UK and are receiving support from the Refugee Council (more info about this here).

Shop here.

Hexagon Mirror/Terrarium, House of Kind

These mirrors can also double up as terrariums or storage for make-up/jewellery. Each one is designed and made by an independent artist (called Fiona), and is handcrafted using glass and copper, which can be recycled and reused.

Shop here.

The bank holiday weekend is fast approaching. Whether you’re throwing a barbecue, cocktail party, or just looking to get your garden ship-shape for summer – we’ve got some tips to quickly fix up your green space.

Take a seat

Updating your seating area with new cushions or a parasol can give it a fresh look, especially if you add a pop of colour. Don’t forget to scrub down the tables and chairs, too.

Hang out

Hanging baskets are back into fashion in a big way. Opt for a traditional basket, or a more trendy terrarium for a quick floral fix without having to get your hands too dirty.

Light it up

As the evening draws in, nothing adds a more homely vibe than some tealights. Reuse some jam jars for a free and planet-friendly option.

Spruce up the shed

If your shed’s looking a bit worse for wear, don’t let it ruin the atmosphere. Have a declutter and a spring clean, and give the outside a lick of paint – we’d recommend a soft pastel for summer. Once the inside’s spick and span, and depending on how many power tools you own, you can even decorate indoors to create an additional seating area.

Loving lavender

Lavender provides the perfect scented backdrop for summer evenings outdoors. If you don’t have time to plant some, buy a few sprigs and wrap them in string. Add this to a jar or basket for a summery centrepiece that looks and smells good.

Don’t forget the front…

Take a photo of your front porch, and you’d be surprised to see how many little details you notice as you go past every day. Make sure you tidy up, mow any lawn space you have out the front, and decorate with a pot plant or a new welcome mat.

This Sunday marks the 2018 Hackney Half marathon – a local event we love to watch (and for some members of staff, take part in). We’ve also got a number of properties on our books that fall along the route – here are our top picks:

Bagel Factory

Kicking off the race in Hackney Wick is Bagel Factory, a unique new development in the heart of a rapidly changing area. The development offers high specification warehouse style apartments in touching distance to Hackney Wick Station, and with the added benefits of an onsite concierge, gym and multiple roof gardens.

Victoria Park Road

The next stretch is down Victoria Park Road, and past this incredible four bedroom home just a short stroll from Victoria Park village. The property has been refurbished to an exceptionally high standard by the current owners, and has a garden and outdoor studio.

Abode

Making a turn down Mare Street, runners will catch another fabulous new homes development, Abode. All apartments have outside space for chilling out and those on the upper level have sizeable terraces and fabulous views across London.

North Mill Apartments

As the runners curve up Haggerston Road, they’ll go past North Mill Apartments, and this two bedroom apartment for sale. Located on the second floor of the development, this apartment also offers outdoor terrace space and Juliette balconies in both bedrooms.

Century Quarter House

As the runners continue past Stonebridge Gardens, they’ll be just round the corner from Century Quarter House, a new development of five 2 and 3 bedroom apartments coming soon to Hackney. Just a three minute walk from Haggerston Overground station, it will also be finished to a high specification, with flawless interiors and generous terraces to the top two apartments. Register your interest now. 

Middleton Road

Taking a right down Middleton Road is this end of terrace three bedroom house, near the green open space of London Fields. The property also has an enclosed rear garden with side access.

Richmond Road

On the corner of Queensbridge Road and Richmond Road is this beautifully light two bedroom apartment in the modern Queensbridge Quarter development. An open plan reception/kitchen with built in appliances makes for a great entertaining space, as well as providing access to the large balcony.

Downs Park Road

As the runners make their way around the edge of Hackney Downs, they’ll come across this share of freehold, split level period conversion on Downs Park Road. Arranged over the top two levels, this lovely, light maisonette also has a balcony and a mature rear garden, offering a peaceful retreat from the city.

 

Islington has been home to a fair few celebrities over the years, from actors to writers and radio DJs. We’re still yet to spot anyone walking down Upper Street or brush shoulders with an A lister in the Angel Centre, but we’re keeping our hopes up and our eyes peeled. Here’s some of the most notable names to have graced the borough.

Emma Watson

The Harry Potter star rented a flat on Canonbury Place in 2015. Maybe she was inspired after filming on location on Claremont Square for the last two Harry Potter films…

Lily Allen

The pop singer and daughter of actor and comedian Keith Allen was born and raised in Islington.

George Orwell

1984’s famous author lived on Canonbury Square between 1944 and 1947 (although his original plaque said only 1945 – his adopted son unveiled the corrected plaque in 2016).

James McAvoy

According to the Atonement actor, who moved to the area in 2004, “it’s got a nice mix of people – they’re not all white middle class – and an excellent selection of bars and restaurants.”

Heath Ledger

The late actor spent some of his final days in Islington while filming Batman in 2008. He stayed in Pearl House, a luxury residence just down the road from Caledonian Road & Barnsbury station, on Roman Way.

Boris Johnson

Boris bought a £2.3 million townhouse on Colebrooke Row in 2009. At the time, he was forced to remove a wooden shed he built on the balcony of his home following complaints to the council.

Colin Firth

Our very own Mr Darcy has also graced the borough – I’m sure it was much nicer than Pemberley.

Alexandra Burke

Alexandra Burke, X Factor winner and singer, grew up on an estate near Caledonian Road, and attended the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson School.

Helena Bonham-Carter

Also walking the halls of the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson school is The BAFTA winning actress Helena Bonham Carter, who was there last year as part of a South African exchange programme. Helena was born in Islington, but attended a different school in Golders Green.

Tony Blair

Before he moved into Downing Street in 1997, Tony Blair lived on Richmond Crescent – and should have held onto it. After selling it for £615,000 in the nineties, the value has now almost trebled to £1.69 million.

Oscar Wilde

In 1895, famous writer Oscar Wilde was also briefly a resident of Islington – at Pentonville Prison, where he was held after being convicted of “gross indecency with men”. He remained there from May until July, before he was transferred to Wandsworth Prison. To this day, he remains an iconic part of the LGBT rights movement, and his grave in Paris is adorned in lipstick kisses.

 

Could you be next? Take a look at some of our properties for sale in Islington.

The City isn’t just filled with briefcases and bankers – it’s also home to Clerkenwell, an area that boasts an array of independent shops, bars and restaurants. Here’s our pick of the best places to eat and drink in the heart of London…

The Modern Pantry

The Modern Pantry caters to a range of dining options, with breakfast, afternoon tea, cream tea, weekend brunch, and an all day menu. Their bar also serves an eclectic mix of wines and cocktails, which can be enjoyed on their sunny outdoor terrace on St John’s Square.

Dans Le Noir?

Dans Le Noir provides a sensory experience aimed to heighten your tastebuds, as everything is served “dans le noir” – in the dark. This also brings a new way of socialising, with the entire restaurant comprising sharing tables. Guests share meals in darkness and engage in conversations with people they’ve never met nor seen, while learning about blindness and disability.

Upon arrival, you must choose from a series of Surprise Menus – one meat based, one vegetarian/vegan, one pescatarian, and one a mixture of seafood and meat. The menu will be revealed after the meal.

19:20

19:20 is an American style bar with an informal, relaxed style for pool players and non pool players alike. Their basement bar is home to a 15m long zinc topped bar serving cocktails, beers, and classic American diner food.

Bleeding Heart Tavern

If you’re looking for authentic French food and wine, look no further than the Bleeding Heart Tavern. Voted the most romantic restaurant in London by The Times, the tavern, bistro, and restaurant is an ideal place for a date or catching up with friends and colleagues. Be sure to try their famous Cheeseboard.

Iberica

Following the European theme, Iberica takes Spanish tapas to the next level with their amazing ‘Croqiuetas de Jamon’ (ham croquettes) and chorizo lollipops. They cater for all types of relaxed dining – from paella lunches, to sharing tapas, to just small bites to eat at the bar with a glass of wine. They also have restaurants in Marylebone, Canary Wharf, Farringdon, and Victoria.

Look Mum No Hands!

LMNH is a combination of cafe, bicycle workshop, exhibition space and bar. A packed program of exhibitions, film screenings, live cyclesport and even cycle speed dating ensure that LMNH is always buzzing with all the different elements of London’s cycle culture.

Briki

Deli and coffee brewery Briki offers new, alternative choices with traditional recipes and quality coffee. Located in the popular Exmouth Market, their recipes come “straight from grandma’s cookbook”.

The Dovetail

Traditional Belgian pub The Dovetail serves the finest Belgian beers and traditional dishes like waffles, moules frites, and croquettes. Tucked away in the quiet  Jerusalem Passage, The Dovetail is an intimate, relaxed setting – perfect for a romantic meal or drinks with friends.

Caravan

Another Exmouth Market staple is Caravan, home to a deliciously varied menu from breakfast to brunch to main plates and freshly roasted coffee. Come in the morning for a hot cup of joe with the papers, or head there after work for cocktails and small plates.

With the rise of online estate agents like Purple Bricks and Yopa selling homes with 0 commission, it can be tempting for people to head online to sell. However, there are certain benefits of using traditional, bricks and mortar estate agents that shouldn’t be overlooked:

1. You’ll still have to pay a fee

Online agents usually require upfront fees – even if they are unsuccessful in selling your property, meaning you could end up wasting money.

In today’s market it is easy to be tempted to instruct an online agent with a low fixed fee. However, what we have found is that a lot of clients come to us after having tried the cheaper option. In many cases the problem is not with the property or the price but with the online agent’s motivation laying more heavily on selling vendors add-ons rather than proactively selling their property.

-Ashley Coppin, Client Manager at Currell

2. A more personal experience

Working with a face to face estate agents allows you to build a relationship and a trust with the person selling your home. Most online agents work in call centres, meaning you won’t necessarily speak to the same person each time. With a high street agent, you can pop into your local branch and speak to a familiar face.

3. Local knowledge

Estate agents that are based in your local area will of course know a lot about it – and its many benefits. They will know the transport links, the best schools, and what the property market is like in the area. This will be extremely beneficial when selling your property; after all,you’re not just selling a home, but the area it’s in too.

4. Expertise in the market

A business that has been established for longer will know more about the property market, and will be more qualified at giving accurate valuations on your property. They can also offer tips and tricks that they have picked up  in their experience.

5. Contacts

Bricks and mortar estate agents will also have a list of contacts that they can refer you to for further services relating to your property – e.g conveyancing solicitors. This will save you time in going out and comparing services yourself.

6. Everything’s organised

High street estate agents take the stress out of the process by sorting everything out for you – from initial marketing to negotiating on price. If you don’t feel comfortable negotiating and feel you may not be able to secure the best price you can get, your agent will be well versed in this, and can take care of it.

7. Don’t miss out

Because traditional estate agents advertise both online and in person, you can make sure you attract any potential buyer. Although most people now start their property search online, many still stop on the street or pop in branch to check out properties in the area. With a high street agent, you’ll be marketing to both online and offline purchasers – meaning you won’t miss out.

8. Viewings are covered

Online estate agents seldom offer to conduct viewings on properties, which can be problematic if you don’t feel comfortable doing this yourself. If you don’t have experience with this, it can make the viewer uncomfortable – especially if they notice faults with the property and feel they can’t comment. Bricks and mortar estate agents will be well practised in conducting viewings, and will be able to show your property off in the best light.

9. You’re protected

All high street estate agents are members of a redress scheme, and will usually be a member of the Property Ombudsman – so if their service is poor, you can make an official complaint.

 

Last weekend saw the successful launch of Bagel Factory and Old Smokehouse at the dedicated marketing suite in Hackney Wick.

There was a really strong turnout with 120 people in attendance, and lots of interest in this exciting new development.

Hackney Wick and Fish Island are set to undergo extensive regeneration, building a creative hub that has been dubbed “the new Shoreditch” – and a perfect investment opportunity. The V&A, London College of Fashion and Sadler’s Wells Theatre are all opening in the Olympic Park, as well as a major development which will include new homes, schools and The International Quarter business centre.

All this change will generate over 50,000 jobs for the area and see The London Legacy Development Corporation establish one of the largest new urban spaces in Europe for over 150 years.

You can find out more about the developments and check out a virtual tour here.