It may surprise you to learn that Lewisham, that underloved pocket of South East London, is one of the fastest growing boroughs in the capital.
Since the arrival of its DLR station and the rise of Canary Wharf – a wealthy neighbour where employment has quadrupled in the last 10 years – it’s become an increasingly popular place live.
But historically, it’s been developed in fits and starts with many set backs along the way. “When the Great Depression hit in the early 1880s it brought Lewisham’s expansion to a juddering halt,” says David Fell, research analyst at Hamptons International.
“Builders went bust after failing to sell their homes, leaving behind streets of half-finished houses. While others came in a few years later to finish the job, most roads ended up being built by a combination of two or three different builders. As a result Lewisham is one of the capital’s most architecturally mixed neighbourhoods with homes built just a few years apart influenced by a range of very different styles.”
The most sought after streets, he goes on to explain, are north of the railway, where uniformly grand Victorian semi-detached houses set local price records, commanding seven figure sums. Generally, though, Hamptons puts house prices in Lewisham about £150,000 below the London average at £409,000. This is set to be pushed up, though, by new development in the area.
“The area is currently undergoing a significant transformation, with the borough seeing a fantastic amount of regeneration and securing a place as the second highest borough in London for growth this year according to Property Planner,” says Mark Ruffell, Foxtons’ Blackheath sales manager.
“A significant part of this transformation can be attributed to Renaissance development by Barratt Homes, which is still currently under construction. This contemporary development plays a significant part in revitalising Lewisham town centre, transforming the previously run-down parts of the town centre and providing nearly 800 new homes, a leisure centre, commercial space and creative enterprise units.”
Portrait, another new development, is set to deliver 700 new homes in early 2017, while Fizzy Living is a zeitgeisty Build to Rent scheme that already has one 15 storey, 68 flat tower in the borough and is set to build another next year. There’s a lot of new infrastructure on the way, too.
“With cranes filling the SE13 skyline and the rerouting of the major traffic arteries through the busy centre, Lewisham appears to be having a complete overhaul,” says Graham Lawes, director at JLL. “For a high street that has remained unchanged for years, it’s extremely welcomed, regardless of the disruption caused locally.
“With the body of traffic now being diverted, spaces which were previously unused have now made way for large pedestrian walkways and river paths. Clever planting and lighting will certainly change the look and feel of what was always a congested, grey, and dreary passage to the South Circular, with no real reason to stop. The mainline station and convenient DLR has also expanded and had a facelift, establishing itself as the new centre of the Lewisham borough.”
This change is already affecting house prices, with CBRE’s London Living Borough by Borough 2016 report putting average house price growth at 20 per cent over the last year, with the 300,000 strong population projected to increase by 13 per cent over the next decade.
A sure sign of Lewisham’s “up-and-coming” status is the arrival of Street Feast at Model Market. It’s been open for three summers now serving up street food by the bucketload. Hilly Fields Park is a great place to go for a run, standing as it does at 175ft above sea level, so there are great views over the city. It also boasts a modern playground, tennis and basketball courts and a cafe. The Fox & Firkin pub is a large venue with a community ethos. It’s a live music venue, hosting local bands and DJs from metal to reggae and hosts a knitting group. Gennaro Delicatessen is a much-loved independent Italian deli that’s well-stocked, well-priced and is committed to selling authentic produce. You can also pick up a bargain in Aladdin’s Cave, a palace of salvaged furniture and fittings from the Georgian era onwards sold in a former railway station.
House prices Source: Zoopla
Transport Source: TfL
Time to Canary Wharf:19 mins
Time to Liverpool Street: 32 mins
Nearest train station: Lewisham DLR
Best roads Source: Hamptons International
Most Expensive: Oakcroft Road: £1,216,063
Best Value: Wisteria Road: £232,035