For good reasons, people who live in Streatham tend to be extremely proud of their neighbourhood; many campaign tirelessly to improve what was once known as “the West End of south London”.
'Streatham has something to suit every budget, from £1 million-plus houses to studio flats going for a bargain'
At first glance it can appear a straggly sort of place, spread out on either side of the A23.
It was this section of the London to Brighton Road that was voted Britain’s worst street in 2002 in a poll run by the BBC’s Today programme and government design watchdog CABE. With traffic continuing to snarl and puff its way through, little has changed since then.
Streatham has had to fight many battles over the years. One that it lost was an attempt to prevent the closure in 1990 of Pratts, a department store run since the Second World War by the John Lewis Partnership. The loss is still bitterly mourned by older residents.
Most recently, the Streatham loyalists have been waving their placards outside Tesco, urging the company to get on with its plans for a Streatham Hub regeneration scheme. Stalled for seven years, the project centres on a new supermarket and 300 new flats, intended to generate funds to replace Steatham’s crumbling ice rink, a council-owned swimming pool and a bus station.
© Peter Jordan
Last summer another group of resourceful residents finally persuaded Lambeth council to give roads south of Streatham Common conservation area status. The streets contain an interesting mix of Edwardian Arts and Crafts houses and 1920s terraces.
Despite everything, Streatham continues to be blessed with plenty of green space: Tooting Bec Common with its lido is on the western edge; Streatham Common lies to the southern tip and has views across south London; and beside it are the more manicured acres of The Rookery, where, in the 18th century, the smart set came to take the waters at Streatham Spa.
Properties: Streatham has something to suit every budget, from £1 million-plus houses near Tooting Bec Common to studio flats in 1930s blocks on the high road that can be bought for a song.
The area attracts: This is a good place to look for family houses, flat conversions and mansion flats.
It attracts families looking for more space, more garden and cheaper house prices than in nearby Clapham, Balham or Wandsworth, although Marc Wiehe at Winkworth says that the Telford Park Estate and the roads around Tooting Bec Common have done a lot of catching up in recent years. First-time buyers and investors are big fans of the many well maintained 1930s mansion flats.
Staying power: With a high proportion of first-time buyers, buy-to-let investors and renters, Streatham is a transitory area but first impressions belie a strong sense of community among those who’ve lived there a while.
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Best postcodes: Streatham falls mainly into SW16 but the Streatham Hill area falls into the more expensive SW2, the Brixton postcode.
Best streets: Garrad’s Road, overlooking Tooting Bec Common, and the roads off it, Woodbourne and Becmead avenues and Abbotswood, Hoadly and Prentis roads. On the Telford Park Estate, Telford, Killieser and Criffel avenues are all sought after, as is Ryecroft Road, a crescent at the top of Streatham Common.
Up-and-coming areas: The ABC roads, Amesbury, Barcombe and Cricklade avenues off Streatham Hill, form part of the Leigham Court Estate conservation area. These roads of austere red-brick and tile-hung terrace houses and maisonettes are historically and architecturally important as an early example of social housing, and many are now privately owned.
South of Streatham Common, the Streatham Lodge Estate, in the roads off Braxted Park, was designated a conservation area last summer and has value-for-money Arts and Crafts houses and still affordable 1920s terrace homes. Marc Wiehe points to Gleneldon Road close to the junction of the high road and Mitcham Lane where most of the large houses have been broken up into flats but where whole Edwardian family houses can be bought for about £450,000.
What’s new: The redevelopment - known as the Streatham Hub - of the Streatham ice rink site is still waiting the outcome of negotiations between Lambeth council and Tesco, which owns much of the site.
Schools: The best primary schools are Streatham Wells in Palace Road in the Streatham Hill area; St Andrew’s Catholic School in Polworth Street, which is near Streatham Common; and the oversubscribed Julian’s in Leigham Court Road. Dunraven is a popular mixed comprehensive that is judged to have “good with outstanding features” by Ofsted. For private schools there is Streatham and Clapham High for girls and Broomwood Hall, a popular preparatory school with a branch of the lower school in Garrad’s Lane. The Dulwich independent schools are a short journey away.
Shops and restaurants: Streatham is not a shopping paradise; cash converters and pound shops predominate. Gourmet eating is also in short supply but Nineteen is a popular wine bar and restaurant at The High Parade off the High Road, and the Wholemeal Café in Shrubbery Road, also off the High Road, is one of south London’s best vegetarian eateries.
The Dorchester in Leigham Court Road is an example of a dying breed: a lunchtime-only restaurant with seersucker tablecloths and a typed menu offering rib-eye steak for only £7.
Transport: Streatham does not have the Underground but it does offer plenty of trains and buses. Streatham Hill has trains to Victoria (20 minutes) and London Bridge (30 minutes).
Streatham is connected to the City via Thameslink with Blackfriars a 20-minute journey; there are also trains to London Bridge (23 minutes) and occasionally to Victoria (25 minutes). Streatham Common goes mainly to Victoria (20 minutes) and occasionally London Bridge (30 minutes). All stations are in Zone Three with an annual season ticket costing £1,208.
Council: Streatham is in Lambeth and the Band D council tax for 2010/11 is £1,235.11.
Average sale prices: SW16
One-bedroom flat: £173,280
Two-bedroom flat: £211,533
Two-bedroom house: £230,389
Three-bedroom house: £311,294
Four-bedroom house: £440,350
Average rental rates: SW16
One-bedroom flat: £150 to £300 a week
Two-bedroom flat: £180 to £350 a week
Three-bedroom flat: £220 to £380 a week
Three-bedroom house: £260 to £500 a week
Four-bedroom house: £300 to £525 a week
Five-bedroom house: £500 to £800 a week
Photographs by Barry Phillips
All details correct at time of publication (23 March 2010).