Large sporting venues can easily make or break a location. Twickenham, Wimbledon and Wembley are three of London’s locations that are synonymous with the sports played there, but Oval, home to the Kia Oval and the Surrey County Cricket Club, is managing to break free of its sporting connotations.
“In the past, Oval was in danger of only being thought about in the context of cricket. More recently, however, buyers have taken note of the reasonably priced properties considering the area’s proximity to central London,” says Clodagh Blain, sales manager at Foxtons’ Vauxhall office nearby.
“A near-neighbour of Oval, Kennington has long been the home of well over half of Britain’s civil servants due to its close proximity to Westminster, whereas Oval has a broader appeal.”
The name derives from a street masterplan that never quite came to fruition but the shape of the nearby cricket ground means it has well and truly stuck.
Indeed, with both Vauxhall and Oval on the Northern Line and Stockwell on the Victoria Line, the transport links are a big pull for City workers. At the weekends, a stroll along the South Bank from Waterloo is only a 30 minute walk away, too.
If you like to stay local, there’s a Saturday farmer’s market to peruse, and Ovalhouse theatre to attend, a lively champion of up-and-coming talent. Get your Sunday roast at the Kennington pub or go veggie at The Bonnington Cafe, an informal restaurant that has a roster of visiting chefs.
So who is buying there? Thanks to the diverse housing stock, the architecture of which lends itself to creative Victorian conversions and ex-council home refurbishments, first and second time buyers have more choice than neighbouring Kennington.
“Especially appealing to first time buyers are the four storey, red brick Victorian ex-local authority buildings that are spread throughout Oval,” says Blain. “These flats are well-planned, often with equal-sized bedrooms, favouring friends or siblings buying together. However, recently buy-to-let investors have been snapping them up for the same reason.”
For a one bedroom flat, expect to pay between £300,000-£400,000, up to £600,000 for a two bedroom flat and upwards from £800,000 for a family house.
St Mark’s Conservation Area is a popular district for its period terraces and it’s also the site of an upmarket luxury apartment development called Palfrey Place, where Hamptons International are selling a three bedroom maisonette for £1.75m.
“There are also charming, traditional garden squares in Oval, with large family houses on offer.” Hanover Gardens, she adds by way of example, is one of London’s few privately owned garden squares, as residents clubbed together to buy the garden in the middle and now have seasonal celebrations in it.
During the school holidays, there are also three great museums within the vicinity to take the kids to, including the Imperial War Museum, the Cinema Museum and the Garden Museum.
Kennington Park is a great green space for everyone else, which has become an increasingly diverse group in recent years. Mel Hewitt from Dexters’ office in Kennington notes, “There is a complete cross section of buyers here, ranging from first time buyers and professionals to families opting for the beautiful five storey properties on Albert Square.
“We are also spotting a trend of downsizers heading to Oval – couples who moved outside the capital to raise their families, but are making the move back once their children have flown the nest.”
She’s also yet another advocate for the Saturday farmer’s market, with a special shout out for the “delicious sausages”.
Even with an influx of visitors to the area on match days, this central location still enjoys the idyllic sight of families playing cricket in the park. It’s easy to see why Oval an increasingly popular residential area in London.
Ovalhouse, formerly The Oval House Theatre, is opposite the famous cricket ground and has been part of the London fringe circuit for 50 years. It specialises in nurturing breakthrough acts, whether that be dance, music or drama. The Kia Oval, the international cricket ground, does ground tours where you can take a seat in the commentary box and browse the club’s museum. Contact the ticket office by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. The Saturday Farmer’s Market at St Mark’s Church opposite the tube station is a firm local favourite. It opened in 2007 serving organic meat, vegetables, honey, pies, cakes and more. It’s open from 10am to 3pm usually. Just off of the Brixton Road, there’s National Theatre Costume Hire, where film crews, to amateur dramatic societies to people who take fancy dress parties way too seriously can go along and hire handmade outfits.
House prices Source: Zoopla
Transport Source: TfL
Time to Canary Wharf: 21 mins
Time to Liverpool Street: 18 mins
Nearest train station: Oval