London commuters already spend an average 77 minutes getting to and from work each day so all delays are depressing. Which is why a reliable rail service is so important.
According to the latest data from Network Rail, the London Overground offers the most punctual service in the Britain. An impressive 88.4 per cent of its trains ran on time in the 12 months to December 8, 2012. Other rail companies, the worst offenders being CrossCountry and Virgin Trains, ran only about half of their trains on time in the same period.
London Overground has been the focus of some major recent enhancements. In December, the final stretch of the line, linking Surrey Quays and Queen’s Road Peckham to Clapham Junction opened. The £76 million project has created an “orbital” service around London, improving journey times in the south-east of the capital.
The Overground links up-and-coming leafy suburbs and semi-rural neighbourhoods with a country feel to key central London postcodes — in short, something for everyone. Here we take a look at some of the best value-for-money locations on the London Overground orbital railway.
Honor Oak Park
London has many “nappy valley” suburbs that act as magnets for middle-class young families, and Honor Oak Park is rapidly joining the list. The area has affordable family homes which are drawing in flat-owners from central London attracted by the 1930s houses on the Kersey Estate — a three-bedroom terrace costs £425,000 to £450,000 — or the area’s well-preserved Victorian homes. A two-bedroom cottage would cost from £350,000, or you could opt for a four-bedroom period house from £500,000.
Ben Nicol, sales manager at Robert Stanford estate agents, particularly recommends Gabriel Street, with its Victorian bay-fronted red brick terraced houses priced from £550,000 to £600,000.
Families also love the area because of its open space — One Tree Hill is a pretty wooded park, and it is also an easy walk to the Horniman Museum and Gardens. Overground services to the Docklands take only 15 minutes, and the area is perfect for City workers as trains to London Bridge take 12 minutes.
The high street is small but rather lovely, with a selection of delis, cafés and independent shops. Indian restaurant Babur is award-winning, and there is an excellent tapas bar.
One of the key reasons parents move to the area is for its junior schools — Fairlawn Primary, rated outstanding by Ofsted, is regarded as a particularly good catch. For seniors, Forest Hill School (boys) and Sydenham School (girls) are both rated “good” by the Government’s schools’ inspector.
For period housing, quality schools and great commuting options, this is an area that offers value for money.
The transport links are excellent and varied. There is, thanks to the completion of London Overground, a direct link to Canada Water, which takes less than 15 minutes, as well as mainline services to Victoria in nine minutes or London Bridge in 21 minutes.
The area has a good stock of period housing. Wendy Peterman, director of Peterman Associates, says that a two-bedroom flat in a period conversion starts at £450,000. If that sounds steep, you could opt for an ex-local authority flat for under the three per cent £250,000 stamp duty threshold (the area has a number of low-rise council-built estates, which also make great buy-to-let investments) or a mansion flat in popular Ruskin Park House for around £270,000. A three-bedroom Victorian terrace starts at £550,000, or you could opt for a smart, detached, four-bedroom Edwardian villa in Ferndene Road for £850,000 to £950,000. Ferndene Road faces Ruskin Park, one of the area’s assets.
The local schools, particularly St Saviour’s CofE Primary School and The Charter School, are sought-after, and there are plenty of restaurants to choose from on Camberwell New Road. There are also plenty of good pubs such as The Grove and the Cambria. Shopping is poor. The nearest supermarket is in neighbouring Dog Kennel Hill, and if you want boutiques and independent shops you need to go to fashionable, nearby East Dulwich.
However, on the upside, Peterman estimates that East Dulwich’s up-and-coming reputation means that Denmark Hill property is some 25 per cent cheaper than its neighbour.
Nestling just a few miles within the M25, Bushey has a true rural feel, yet trains to Euston take only 19 minutes, and Overground services run directly to Wembley and north-west London.
Properties range from 16th century silk weavers’ cottages (from about £250,000) to lavish modern houses with swimming pools, cinema rooms and gyms.
For a more affordable family home, Tim Griggs, sales manager at John Whiteman & Co, suggests a three to four-bedroom Victorian terrace from about £380,000. If you are feeling rich, head for Hartsbourne Avenue. Detached Victorian villas and luxury modern homes can sell for £2.6 million.
Good schools include Bushey Heath and Hartsbourne Primary, both popular, as is Bushey Meads School (alumni include George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley). Given the close proximity to Watford (two miles north), older children may be able to qualify for the larger town’s sought-after grammar schools.
The high street is happily free of chains, but not wildly exciting. Locals tend to head to Watford for retail therapy; its shopping centre is comprehensive if soulless. Eat in excellent modern British restaurant St James if you are flush. The Alpine (Italian) at Bushey Heath is also popular.
Bushey has acres of open space: the area is encircled by golf courses and country clubs, open woodland and recreation grounds. Aldenham Country Park, for walks and water sports, is two miles away.