London’s young home buyers are bringing a little fizz to the suburbs, where the capital’s population is growing fastest.
Latest figures show Zones 3 and 4 are attracting waves of home hunters driven by price, with singles and couples seeking flats from £250,000, while families are after houses under £800,000.
These price brackets now account for the bulk of London housing demand.
Such buyers are being encouraged to put down roots by the arrival of better shops, more schools and local amenities — and by developers offering smart new homes. The more forward-thinking local councils are giving high streets a facelift, upgrading public spaces and working with local retailers and residents to foster a sense of neighbourhood.
It’s happening in Charlton, Ladywell, Forest Hill and Sydenham in south-east London, and in Southfields, Roehampton, Twickenham and Teddington in the south and west, Hornsey and Walthamstow to the east, and Whetstone to the north. But the biggest transformation, perhaps, is in south London’s Streatham.
Shamed a few years back by the allegation that Streatham High Road was Britain’s scruffiest, the council and businesses have combined to collect rubbish, wash pavements and increase policing. Streatham Green — refurbished gardens that host a weekend farmers’ market — won a Metropolitan Police award for best public open space in the capital.
This initiative, backed by Mary “Queen of Shops” Portas, has resulted in an ongoing renaissance that is reviving the formerly run-down, traffic-clogged town centre and increasing the allure of the wider area.
In its post-war heyday, Streatham was posh, a popular place to live and visit, with a department store called Pratts that was part of the John Lewis group, a Locarno ballroom, a theatre, cinema and ice rink, making it the “West End of south London”. The very first Waitrose, that badge of middle-class affluence, opened in Streatham in 1955, alongside the butchers and bakeries, drapers and haberdashery shops.
Decline set in during the Eighties. Discount retailers landed and notable buildings languished empty, while the area’s nightclubs became a flashpoint for crime. However, estate agent John D Wood now says: “In the past 18 months Streatham has become the new darling place to move to in south-west London.” Despite rising demand it’s still good value — cheaper than the bordering areas of Clapham, Balham and Brixton. You get more space for your money and there is more potential for price growth.
A spate of new Streatham developments includes 214 flats under way at 142-170 Streatham Hill, moments from the train station, incorporating the listed Art Deco façade of a former cinema.
The London Square development is a step up for the area, with high-quality detailing and architect-designed interiors. Many of the flats have a large balcony or terrace overlooking an inner courtyard garden, and there will be a concierge, gym, cycle storage and underground parking.
A new Streatham Playhouse forms part of the scheme, while Marks & Spencer is signed up for an on-site food store and café. A show flat will be ready for viewing at next month’s launch. Prices start at £345,000. Call 0333 666 2131 for more information.
Chartered surveyor Akash Bhuwanee, 32, spotted Streatham’s up-and-coming status seven years ago when he paid £238,000 for a three-bedroom garden flat that is now worth at least £550,000. “Back then the High Road was in poor shape but it has improved immensely,” he says. “I call it gentle gentrification.
“I feel very connected to central London, where I work. Trains to Victoria take 17 minutes and to London Bridge it’s less than 30 minutes. Brixton, and the Victoria line, is a short bus ride away.”
Streatham Hub, a £1.4 billion regeneration project, has brought 250 new homes alongside a new leisure centre, library and the capital’s only Olympic-size ice rink, while One Palace Road is a new-build scheme of 17 apartments priced from £365,000 to £585,000. Call Kinleigh Folkard & Hayward on 020 8222 7200.
Streatham’s population includes a lot of young public sector workers, a category being targeted by Pocket Living, which sells no-frills micro flats that cost 20 per cent below market value, a discount owners have to pass on when selling in order to keep the homes affordable.
Mountearl Gardens in Streatham has 32 flats by Pocket, modular homes delivered to the site which used to be occupied by Lambeth council garages. Prices from £256,000. Call 020 7291 3683. Pocket Living says it has 30,000 people registered for its dozen London projects.
The golden triangle
The shape of Streatham was defined when City merchants established magnificent estates there 200 years ago. Henry Tate, the sugar magnate and arts benefactor, lived in a mansion overlooking Streatham Common at Park Hill. Today, Henry Tate Mews is a gated estate with flats and Regency-style townhouses in six acres of grounds. Several homes are for sale, with prices from £775,000. Call agent Atkinson McLeod on 020 3463 9594.
Modern Streatham splits into distinct neighbourhoods based to a large extent on the old estates. Victorian developers bought up their farmland after the arrival of the railway and any leftover land was built on between the wars.
Streatham Village dates back to the 19th century while the area’s original heart, around St Leonard’s Church, emerged in medieval times. A “golden triangle” between Kings Avenue, Atkins Road and Streatham Hill has big Edwardian houses that would be twice the price in the best parts of Clapham and Wandsworth.
Elsewhere there is a wide range of cottages, mansion flats, purpose-built Seventies blocks and Victorian two-up, two-down terraces. The cheapest part is Streatham Vale, a pocket of high-density housing hemmed in by railway lines. Most of the terraces were built by Wates in the Twenties.
So, incomers are finding a much smarter Streatham these days. Don’t leave it too long. Prices are rising faster than the London average, according to date analyst Hometrack