Affordable homes, prized state schools including three “outstanding” grammar schools, and a 35-minute commute into central London make Bexleyheath the area of the capital where homes sell fastest — in just three weeks on average, latest Rightmove research shows.
Almost all parents in the town, 14 miles south-east of central London, in Bexley borough, send their children to local state schools, while further family appeal lies in fine Bexleyheath architecture, including a clutch of nationally important historic houses.
Parks and gardens here are among the capital’s best. The earliest of the great local gardens is at Hall Place near Bexley Village, a Tudor house with a large red-brick 17th-century extension. The gardens on the banks of the River Cray feature topiary pruned into animal shapes.
Eighteenth-century Danson House was built in the then-fashionable Palladian style by architect Sir Robert Taylor, who designed the Bank of England. Derelict for many years, Danson House was restored by English Heritage and reopened by the Queen in 2005.
Then there is the Red House which was designed by William Morris, the writer, designer, socialist, and inspiration for the Arts and Crafts movement, with his lifelong friend, the architect Philip Webb. The Morris family only lived at the Red House from 1860 to 1865. Ill health and possibly financial troubles drove them out.
The 20th century has also left its architectural mark on Bexleyheath, with splendid examples of Thirties modernist homes in Danson Road.
Close to the A2 London to Dover road, Bexleyheath is a magnet for families from more central areas of London who are seeking good schools and more affordable house prices, according to estate agent Luke Parker from the local branch of Robinson Jackson.
There are period houses, including some fine Georgian homes, in Bexley Village, which also has roads of Victorian detached and terrace houses. There are more Victorian terraces in the centre of the town.
However, most local houses date from the Thirties — and detached, semi-detached houses and bungalows from that era are not the most fashionable type. This makes Bexleyheath an affordable spot, and some buyers are giving their homes imaginative modern makeovers. There are also new-build flats.
A development of six four-bedroom terrace houses in Alfred Road in nearby Belvedere is ready to move into at the end of this month, with prices from £420,000. Through Your Move (01322 447111).
Eddington Vale @ The Brackens is the affordable section of The Brackens, a Bellway Homes development in Hill View Drive. Orbit Homes has two-bedroom shared-ownership flats available with a market price of £295,000.
A 35 per cent share of one of these properties comes in at £103,250, and the rent on the remaining portion is £439.42 a month, with a service charge of £107 a month. Call Orbit on 02476 437040 for more details.
Bexleyheath has twice as many homes for sale as it has to rent. Rental availability ranges from three-bedroom semi-detached houses to flats in conversions or new-build blocks. Apartments close to the station are popular.
Robinson Jackson’s Luke Parker says that once families have settled their children into a good local school they tend to stay in the area, with plenty of opportunities to trade up and down the property ladder.
Up and coming
Parker suggests seeking out “right to buy” former council houses built in the Fifties — one example being Hudson Road.
There are two Bexleyheath postcodes: DA7 to the north and DA6 to the south. Bexley Village falls into the DA5 Bexley postcode. Being close to Bexley
Village is seen as an advantage, so prices in the DA5 and DA6 postcodes are generally higher.
Buyers look for the work of certain builders.
Feakes & Richards built the Bostall Park Estate which has roads of well-detailed Thirties semi-detached houses off Long Lane, with local shops along The Pantiles.
Downsizers seek out bungalows built by Bowyer north of the town centre off Brampton Road, in roads such as Dorcis Avenue, Albury Avenue and Jenton Avenue. JW Ellingham built large detached houses in the Thirties, with Arts and Crafts influences, on the Danson Estate, east of Danson Park.
Parkhurst Road in Old Bexley is a road of fine red-brick Victorian detached houses.
Bexley council is Conservative controlled and Band D council tax for the 2016/2017 year is £1,472.43.
Shops and restaurants
Bexleyheath’s high street is along Broadway and its recent redesign has won the local council several awards for the way it skilfully combines pedestrians, cyclists and traffic, including buses.
There are branches of Asda, Primark and TK Maxx and Italian restaurant Stuzzichini, Turkish grill restaurant The Meze and Zingara, a favourite with the “girls’ night out” crowd. NYNE is a cocktail bar with DJs.
At the far end of Broadway is the Broadway covered shopping centre, with large branches of Sainsbury’s and Marks & Spencer and fashion brands River Island, Dorothy Perkins and Monsoon. Chain restaurants in the town centre include Nando’s and PizzaExpress.
Bexley Village has much more of a village feel. Ferrari’s is a popular Italian restaurant here, and there is a Miller & Carter steakhouse in one of the outbuildings at Hall Place in Bourne Road. Danson Stables is a gastropub in the former 18th-century stables in Danson Park.
Danson Park in Welling is the largest local park. Its 200 acres include historic Danson House, a large lake with boating activities, a bowling green, children’s playground, a popular summer water play area and various gardens including an English garden and a rock garden.
Hall Place House and Gardens is famous for its topiary but it also has a café, a garden centre, a butterfly house and a display of owls.
There is a lovely English garden at Red House, although entry is not free. Russell Park, in Bexleyheath town centre, has a children’s playground, bowling green and tennis courts.
The Cray Riverway is a 10-mile marked walk along the River Cray. It starts in Foots Cray Meadows, runs through Hall Place and ends at Crayford where it meets the River Darent.
Leisure and the arts
Cineworld in Broadway is the local multiplex cinema. There is ten-pin bowling in Albion Road. Edward Alderton Theatre in Brampton Road is the local amateur dramatics theatre.
There are two nine-hole golf courses: Bexleyheath Golf Club in Mount Drive and Barnehurst Golf Course in Mayplace Road East.
The nearest council-owned swimming pool is the Crook Log Leisure Centre in Brampton Road, and there is a small swimming pool in the Bexleyheath Marriott spa hotel in Broadway.
Almost all Bexleyheath parents send their children to local state schools. All the state primary schools are judged to be “good” by the government education watchdog Ofsted, and the most sought-after are Bursted Wood in Swanbridge Road; Barrington in Barrington Road; Upton in Iris Avenue and Brampton in Brampton Road.
The three selective grammar schools are judged to be “outstanding” by Ofsted. These are: Townley (girls, ages 11 to 18 with boys in the sixth form) in Townley Road; Beths (boys, ages 11 to 18 with girls in the sixth form) in Hartford Road, and Bexley (co-ed, ages 11 to 18) in Danson Lane, Welling.
There are two Catholic comprehensive schools: St Catherine’s (girls, ages 11 to 16) in Watling Street and St Columba’s (boys, ages 11 to 16) in Halcot Avenue, both judged to be “good”, as is Bexleyheath Academy (co-ed, ages 11 to 18) in Woolwich Road.