Croydon: the new commuter hotspot

Improved transport links and luxury accomodation are attracting City workers

Croydon is currently entering a new era. After years of being known for its dreary concrete high-rise buildings and congested roads, the once rejected south London area is now turning into one of the most sought after locations for homebuyers.

Local planners have learnt from their mistakes in the eighties and now, the area is the subject of a major regeneration plan set to improve public spaces, revamp its town centre and introduce plush modern pads to rival the ones lining the skyline in the City Fringe.

The regeneration plan was announced last year with Mayor Boris Johnson confirming a £1bn investment to transform the area’s economy and drive employment, following his commitment in 2012 to invest £23 million towards the rejuvenation of Croydon town centre following the summer riots. Already, the high streets of London Road, Central Area and Old Town have been redesigned to create a “village feel”, designed to bring attention to the heritage sites in the area. Hammerson and Westfield’s decision to enter a 50/50 £1bn partnership to help transform Croydon’s Whitgift and Centrale shopping centres has enhanced the regeneration effort.

As far as house prices are concerned, Croydon is already showing a lot of potential. According to the February edition of the Rightmove House Price Index, it is the fifth best performing borough in London, with house prices increasing by 7.5 per cent in February this year compared to the same time last year. But prices are still accessible. Croydon is currently the fifth cheapest borough in London to buy a home, making it the perfect place to invest now given the predicted rise in house prices. “As central London prices continue to rise, buyers have had to look at new areas which offer relatively more affordable properties and greater value. Whilst buyers will consider areas with lower house prices, they still want to feel like they are buying in an area with potential for capital growth. Croydon offers a great alternative for many Londoners,” says sales and marketing director of Berkeley Homes Jon Hall.

While its residential offering in the past has left a lot to be desired, Croydon has long been known as an employment centre. More than 50,000 people travel to work there each day and with the white-collar workforce growing and Westfield expected to attract big spenders, developers have responded by creating a number of swanky aspirational apartments.

One such development is Berkeley Homes’ Saffron Square. “It is seen as the spearhead for the current regeneration in Croydon,” says Knight Frank’s Nick Fleming. “Its immediate area has two major selling points, which are currently enticing both investors and first-time buyers to purchase.”

Located in the heart of the regeneration area, the mixed-use development has brought a new level of luxury to Croydon’s residential market. With its first phase complete, residents are already benefiting from facilities like a roof terrace offering panoramic views, a 24-hour concierge, residents-only gym and one-acre of landscaped gardens. The interiors in all the studios through to penthouses have been designed by Box 66 and the building is the brainchild of award-winning architect firm, Rolfe Judd.

“We could see the demand for high-end residential in the town centre from local residents and employees but also from buyers priced out of central London,” says Hall. “The announcement of Westfield investing £1bn into redeveloping the nearby Whitgift Centre – its third shopping centre in London – will help raise Croydon’s international and local profile.”

For those looking for family homes, the area has a lot of Victorian terraces and bargains are to be had in some of the more rundown areas that have been subject to major investment recently as a part of a wider aim to make Croydon centre a more attractive hub.

Croydon is proving particularly popular because it lies on a transport corridor between central London and the South coast of England, so is far enough away from central London to have a break from busy city life and access to the open green spaces of the North Downs but benefits from being considerably closer than many of the other commuter hotspots.

“Improved transport links have helped Croydon become an extremely commutable part of London, making it popular with professionals working in Central London and the City,” says Hall. A trip from Croydon to London Victoria takes under 20 minutes, which is no longer than many trips within the zone 1 and 2 catchment areas. The extension of the Overground line to West Croydon allows for easy access around the whole perimeter of London too.

Prices for apartments in Saffron Square start from £225,000. For more information contact Berkeley Homes on 020 8774 9888 or visit saffronsquare.co.uk