It’s a concrete jungle out there. At least, it is if you live in the London borough of Croydon. Despite birthing Kate Moss, Sir Philip Green and Tracey Emin, it’s not an area that’s known for glamour, largely due to a preponderance of outdated 1960s office blocks.
Though there have been many attempts to revive the Surrey-ish suburb over the past few decades, property developers and estate agents are convinced that Croydon’s time has finally come. This is due to a number of factors, but one of the largest is affordability. As London’s housing stock became more and more valuable, the city pushed outwards and its furthest districts started to attract interest from young people priced out of Zone Two and families looking for value for money within commuting distance.
And there’s plenty of housing to suit all tastes, says Ashley Whitehouse, sales manager for Croydon Foxtons. “With its diverse property portfolio including new build developments such as Saffron Tower and Surrey House amongst others, and Victorian family houses, Croydon attracts a wide variety of buyers looking to get good value for their money.
“This has had a noticeable impact over the last six months with the surrounding train stations becoming increasingly busy on weekday mornings with the influx of professionals travelling into central London to work.”
Indeed, the transport in Croydon certainly takes on a flavour all of its own. It’s the only London borough with a tram system running through it, as well as links to Thameslink, Southern, the London Overground and the Gatwick Express.
The council has also committed to improving the transport infrastructure as part of its £5.25bn regeneration plans, which they hope will be helped along by the arrival of its very own £1.4bn Westfield supersize shopping mall, and there’s even a little bit of Shoreditch cool – a Box Park – setting up shop this autumn.
The council points to Stratford’s newfound ability to attract businesses into the area – such as the Financial Conduct Authority and BT Sport – after it opened an enormous Westfield, and thinks Croydon can be just as successful, especially considering its historic office blocks and diminishing stock as the housebuilders take them over.
“The ageing office blocks, which have escaped the developer’s wrecking ball, are being transformed into flats in record numbers,” says David Fell, research analyst at Hamptons International.
“Croydon is London’s ‘office-to-resi’ capital with twice as many flats carved out of office blocks than in every inner borough combined. Although office conversions aren’t to everyone’s taste, they offer a new home without the new build price tag.”
Notable new developments include Ruskin Square, a £500m scheme next to East Croydon station with over 600 new homes, Bellway Home’s Addiscombe which has new homes going on sale this month and nearly a thousand new homes at Barratt London’s North South Quarter.
That might have been all very well pre-Brexit, I hear you cry, but what’s chance does Croydon have of weathering the storm ahead?
Plenty, says Nick Vincent from agent Proctors, as long as London retains its place in the world.
“The referendum has caused some uncertainty in the property market, however, we are confident this won’t have an impact on property prices in the long-term due to continual developments in Croydon and its close proximity to London.”
Located just outside of Croydon town centre, The Brit School has international recognition as one of the most successful free Performing Arts and Technology schools in the world. If you're sick of the over- crowded underground, Tramlink is a breath of fresh over-ground air – serving Croydon and the surrounding area, from Beckenham to Wimbledon, it is the only operating Tram service in London.
Since 1992, Little Bay has served high-quality European cuisine in a quirky atmosphere with live operatic entertainment, suited to its theatrical furnishings. Just off of the greens of Shirley Parks Golf Course, Shirley Windmill is a window to Croydon's 19th century history as well as an opportunity to escape the town centre’s concrete jungle. RISE is a contemporary gallery that specialises in post-war and modern urban pop art, working with both established and emerging artists.