One of the more enduring images of August’s riots was not of burning buildings but the sea of brooms held aloft by volunteer cleaners at Clapham Junction. Despite its name, the Junction is at the very heart of Battersea.
© Barry Phillips
This is the area made famous by Nell Dunn in Up The Junction, her 1963 book of short stories of life among the mean terraces of this once proud working-class district.
The march of brooms was evidence of a refreshed pride in the area, now it has changed beyond recognition.
There has been huge redevelopment along the river, with large swathes of disused industrial land swept away to be replaced by luxury flats. The streets of terrace houses between Clapham and Wandsworth Commons have become a happy nesting ground for prosperous young families who parade their offspring in £1,000 baby buggies, and whose credit cards keep alive the upmarket chain stores along Northcote Road.
Battersea has mainly three-, four- and five-bedroom Victorian terrace homes, although some have been converted into flats. There are large red-brick mansion flats south of Battersea Park and modern flats by the river, including the Montevetro block designed by Richard Rogers, and Albion Wharf, by Norman Foster.
According to Danny Hardy of the Battersea office of estate agents Kinleigh Folkard & Hayward, house prices are now well past the previous peak achieved in the autumn of 2007, and this is particularly true of the larger houses, which attract City buyers. An average of £580 a square foot is the expected price for homes in the area.
The area attracts: this is a top location for young families, who come for the open spaces and the abundance of good state primary schools and private prep schools. Young professionals like the bars and restaurants and the fast commute into Waterloo and the City from Clapham Junction station.
Staying power: many people opt to stay and trade up to larger houses.
Best roads: the mansion flats on Prince of Wales Drive which overlook Battersea Park have a strong following and the very best flats now sell for over £1 million. Victorian terrace houses on the roads between Wandsworth and Clapham Commons sell for between £750,000 and £1.5 million, depending on their size. Many of these houses have been enlarged, with loft and kitchen extensions, and some have dug-out basement rooms, too.
The houses built for the Great Exhibition of 1851 in Elsynge Road and Spencer Road sell for between £850,000 and £2.85 million, although some would call this Wandsworth rather than Battersea. Likewise, Spencer Park has some large detached houses, one of which is owned by celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay. The top price achieved here is £5 million.
What’s new: The Lismore (Hamptons 020 7758 8495), by developer Loncor, and the Lumiere (Lauristons 020 8946 9468), by Henley Homes, occupy prominent corner positions on the junction of St John’s Hill and Plough Road.
The Lismore is a new-build development of two- and three-bedroom flats starting at £495,000. The Lumière is the conversion of a listed cinema building, where only a £580,000 two-bedroom apartment on the fifth floor and a £600,000 two-bedroom flat on the sixth floor remain. The Sesame Apartments (Lauristons) by developer Thornsett are under construction on the corner of Lombard Road and Holman Road, for completion in summer 2013. There are 72 flats and the remaining two-bedroom apartments start at £430,000. There is a two-bedroom penthouse for £800,000.
Up and coming: Danny Hardy tips the streets north of Clapham Common which have very similar houses to those between the commons, but where prices have been left behind and are due for a reappraisal.
Getting an education
House prices are higher close to the two large and popular “between the commons” primary schools: Honeywell and Belleville. Both Honeywell (infants and junior schools) and Belleville are judged “outstanding” by the Government’s education watchdog, Ofsted.
The choice of prep schools includes: the Dolphin School (co-ed ages two to 11); Thomas’s Clapham (co-ed ages four to 13); Parkgate House (co-ed ages two to 11); Eaton House the Manor (boys, but with girls in the nursery, ages two to 13); Oliver House (co-ed ages two to 11); Finton House (ages four to 11) and Newton Prep (co-ed ages three to 13).
The two excellent comprehensives are Burntwood (girls ages 11 to 18) in Earlsfield and La Retraite, a Catholic girls’ school (ages 11 to 18) in Balham.
A new city academy is opening in the old Bolingbroke Hospital building in September next year. Emanuel (co-ed ages 11 to 18) is a local private secondary school with a long history dating back to the end of the 16th century.
Shops and restaurants: Debenhams at Clapham Junction (although locals still call it Arding and Hobbs) was ransacked during the riots, although it is now business as usual. Upmarket chains such as Kiehl’s, Whistles, LK Bennett, Farrow & Ball and Cath Kidston dominate the shopping in Northcote Road, although there are still two butchers, a long-standing jewellers and a toy shop, as well as market stalls.
These days, the interesting independent shops are found on the less- populated streets. Look out for Lizzie’s, for gifts, and Atelier, for a sophisticated take on the shabby-chic look, both on Webbs Road. Helen Turkington, for furnishing fabrics, and the Regent House Gallery, for mid-century prints and antiques, are both on St John’s Hill. Battersea has many bars, cafés and restaurants — Chez Bruce is a Michelin-starred restaurant on Bellevue Road.
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Open spaces: Battersea residents love their commons. Clapham Common is a favourite with joggers, while Wandsworth Common gets the labrador dog-walkers. Historic Battersea Park has a riverside promenade, rowing lake, art gallery, children’s zoo and restored Festival of Britain pleasure garden.
Leisure and the arts: The Latchmere Leisure Centre is the nearest council-owned swimming pool. The Battersea Arts Centre on Lavender Hill is a top fringe theatre.
Travel: Clapham Junction station connects to Victoria in seven minutes and Waterloo, for the City, in 10 minutes. Battersea Park train station has trains to Victoria; Queenstown Road goes to Waterloo. There is a connection with the Victoria line at Vauxhall and Clapham South on the Northern line. All stations are in Zone 2 and an annual travelcard to Zone 1 costs £1,104.
Council: Wandsworth (Conservative-controlled); Band D council tax in the 2011/2012 year is £681.64.
Buying in Battersea
One-bedroom flat — £291,000
Two-bedroom flat — £468,000
Two-bedroom house — £523,000
Three-bedroom house — £646,000
Four-bedroom house — £953,000
Renting in Battersea
One-bedroom flat — £275 to £400 a week
Two-bedroom flat — £350 to £600 a week
Two-bedroom house — £400 to £675 a week
Three-bedroom house — £500 to £1,000 a week
Four-bedroom house — £725 to £1,100 a week
Five-bedroom-plus house — £950-plus a week
Source: Kinleigh Folkard & Hayward
Photographs: Graham Hussey