It has been said that London is less of a city, more a cluster of villages.
In reality, it’s a series of neighbourhoods with village aspirations, but Blackheath is one of the originals. It’s a true village with green open spaces, an array of traditional pubs and restaurants, an attractive high street, family housing and good schools.
And with over 200 acres of protected commons, it’s no wonder so many of the first sports clubs in England were founded on the heath, from golf to hockey to rugby.
Despite all this activity over the years, Blackheath has managed to avoid the transient reputation associated with other parts of Lewisham. “It’s long been popular with families and it’s very common to find generations still living in the area,” says Patricia Irwin-Brown, sales manager at estate agent KFH Blackheath.
Blackheath is one of a handful of London neighbourhoods with the ability to turn the heads of 30-somethings who would otherwise be leaving the capital
Among the Victorian mansions south of the station, only one in five have changed hands over the past 20 years, according to David Fell, research analyst for estate agent Hamptons International.
“Blackheath is one of a handful of London neighbourhoods with the ability to turn the heads of 30-somethings who would otherwise be leaving the capital,” he adds.
So why has it proved so popular? Partly, it’s the transport links. The rail station whisks commuters to London Bridge in 22 minutes and to Charing Cross in 20 minutes.
The DLR from nearby Lewisham is also very convenient for Canary Wharfers. But top of the list is the sheer diversity of architecture, as it’s famous for ‘span’ homes built in the 1960s, small car free developments with communal gardens.
“Part of Blackheath’s beauty is that its housing stock caters for every type of buyer,” says Nimish Patel, sales manager at estate agent Chestertons in Greenwich. “There is a good mix of one bedroom flats for first time buyers (average price approx. £350,000), right up to the most prestigious houses in and around the Blackheath Cator Estate, circa £2.5m.”
The most desirable streets, she adds, are Montpelier Row and South Row, a short walk from the village with uninterrupted views of the skyline.
Victorian, Edwardian and Georgian houses are also on offer, but contemporary new builds are perhaps the only thing in short supply. Only 12 per cent of housing sold so far this year was newly built, with Berkeley scheme Forbury being the only significant scheme in the area.
Like much of prime and even sub-prime central London, SE13 is currently experiencing a dip in house price growth, dropping 0.3 per cent year on year, according to Hamptons and Land Registry data.
Five estate agencies have left in the past five years – never a good sign – and the last time a house broke the price barrier was in 2008, when a detached house on St Germans Place sold for £4.17m.
Graham Lawes, director at estate agent JLL, puts this down to people’s reluctance to sell up.
“The average property value in the area currently sits close to the £700,000 mark and property prices have remained stable. People don’t usually need to sell and will only do so if they get the right price.”
Though he’s looking forward to “a spike in activity in September, with both buyers and sellers wanting to move before Christmas.”
On Blackheath festival starts this weekend, with headliners The Libertines and Travis this year, alongside cookery demonstrations, craft workshops and family games. Or have a quiet weekend in with a book after a visit to Bookshop on the Heath, a haven for second hand books, antiques and maps. Like any place worth its salt in London these days, Blackheath is home to a micro brewery called Zerodegrees, and you can also pick up a wood-fired oven pizza with your craft beer. There are a variety of small London beers at the Hare & Billet, too, a great local boozer where you can wander out onto the heath with a pint in the summer. Eat local at Hand Made Food, a cosy cafe/deli with mismatched furniture and dishes using seasonal ingredients for breakfast and lunch. Or simply cook up a storm yourself by dropping by Blackheath Farmers Market, a long-running affair in a car park that’s open every Sunday from 10am to 2pm.
House prices Source: Zoopla
Transport Source: TfL
Time to Canary Wharf: 32 mins
Time to London Bridge: 22 mins
Nearest train station: Blackheath
Best roads Source: Hamptons International
Most Expensive: Langton Way: £1,131,469
Best Value: Celestial Gardens: £238,795