Even though Peckham in south-east London no longer bears any resemblance to the neighbourhood made famous by Del Boy, Rodney and the rest of the Trotter family in the BBC’s much-loved sitcom Only Fools and Horses, its reputation as a place where wheeling and dealing is a way of life is hard to live down.
Today, Peckham is a bustling multicultural melting pot of a neighbour-hood. It is where colourful West African shops rub shoulders with quiet conservation areas, cutting-edge art galleries, the famous Will Alsop-designed green- pod-on-stilts library building, outdoor cinema festivals and this summer’s most fashionable pop-up restaurant on the top floor of a concrete multi-storey car park, from where one of London’s best sunsets could be seen.
Only a few yards away from the crowds along the main shopping street, Rye Lane, there are quiet streets of charming Victorian houses clustered around Bellenden Road. This is the area made famous by the arts-led Bellenden renewal scheme, a £12 million, 10-year improvement project promoted by the local council with the active participation of local residents.
Along Bellenden Road, look out for bollards designed by artist Antony Gormley, who at that time had a studio in the area, and street lights and mosaics by local artist Tom Phillips. And at the top end of East Dulwich Road there are bollards, a bus shelter and street lights designed by Zandra Rhodes, featuring her trademark shocking pink. There is also a pocket park designed by TV gardener Charlie Dimmock and a scheme of unifying garden walls and railings along Maxted Road.
From chic to cheap
Properties: there are Georgian houses overlooking Peckham Rye; early and mid-Victorian houses and cottages in the Bellenden renewal area; later Victorian terraces in Nunhead, and much cheaper pockets of period houses in north Peckham. Raj Tanna of estate agents Kinleigh Folkard & Hayward says the area has a lot to offer. “The Bellenden area is chic and trendy, Nunhead has good-size family houses, while in north Peckham you can still pick up a period house in need of restoration for about £250,000.
The area attracts: young professionals and families with young children who can’t afford East Dulwich — plus those with an arty bent.
Staying power: the age profile of Peckham and Nunhead is getting younger but families with secondary-age children often move out to Kent for the grammar schools unless they can afford private schools in Dulwich.
Postcodes: Peckham and Nunhead are both in SE15.
Best streets: Lyndhurst Way and Lyndhurst Square. Estate agent, Wooster & Stock (020 7708 6700) has three houses for sale in Lyndhurst Way varying in price from £975,000 to £1.15 million. Copleston Road and Choumert Road are two popular residential streets where Victorian terrace houses sell for between £450,000 and £650,000 depending on size. Choumert Square is a pretty enclave of cottages — mostly with only one bedroom — which attracts keen gardeners who open the square each year under the National Garden Scheme. Kinleigh Folkard & Hayward (020 7639 2029) is selling a one-bedroom house there for £270,000.
Up-and-coming: peppered among north Peckham’s council estates are enclaves of Georgian and early Victorian houses on the north side of Peckham Road which are about 15 per cent cheaper than similar houses in the Bellenden area. The two most desirable and expensive roads in north Peckham are off the Old Kent Road, east of Burgess Park, where, in Trafalgar Avenue, large four-storey houses sell for between £650,000 and £780,000, and in Glengall Road, where there are some particularly attractive semi-detached early Victorian stucco villas, which generally sell for about £450,000.
What’s new: there are no new large developments on the market but Peckham Vision, a community group made up of residents and local businesses, has worked hard to prevent the demolition of the important Bussey building, a former cricket bat factory next to the railway in Bournemouth Road, off Rye Lane. The building forms part of the Copeland Industrial Estate and is now occupied by artists’ studios. The area is emerging as an important cultural hub. Influential young gallery owner Hannah Barry is based there and she has mounted sculpture exhibitions in the multi-storey car park off Rye Lane. Peckham Vision is also looking for a new use for the beautiful old booking hall at Peckham Rye station, which had been locked up and forgotten for more than 40 years.
Schools: education is not one of Peckham’s strengths. The best state primary school is St Mary Magdalene CofE in Brayards Road, and the best state secondary is Haberdashers’ Aske’s in nearby New Cross. There are three private schools in nearby Dulwich: Alleyn’s School (mixed), James Allen’s Girls’ School and Dulwich College for boys.
Shops and restaurants: Peckham Rye was once one of south London’s premier shopping streets. Today it is a shadow of its former self; there are high street stores such as Tesco Express, Boots and Primark but the general feel is shabby and down-at-heel in spite of a recent tree-planting programme. Persepolis, around the corner in Peckham High Street, is a highlight — an Iranian treasure trove whose owner, Sally Butcher, runs the shop with her Iranian husband and has written a best-selling cookery book.
There are one or two interesting shops, cafés and gastropubs in and around Bellenden Road. Review is a local independent bookshop whose owner, Roz Simpson, started the Peckham Literary Festival; Melange is a chocolate shop that runs interesting chocolate-making workshops, and Fenton Walsh is a boutique selling both men’s and women’s clothes.
Petitou is a popular café with an outside sitting area in Choumert Road; the Victoria and the Montpelier are gastropubs; the Ganapati is a renowned south Indian restaurant; and Il Giardino is a long-standing Italian. Under the arches above Peckham Rye station the Sassoon gallery is linked to Bar Story, a local bar serving food. This summer, Frank’s Café, a pop-up restaurant and bar on the top floor of the multi-storey car park off Rye Lane, was the place to see the sun set over London. In Nunhead’s Evelina Road, FC Soper is one of south London’s best fishmonger’s.
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Open spaces: Peckham has plenty of open spaces. Peckham Rye is where the poet William Blake once walked and had his visions. In the middle is the recently renovated Peckham Rye Park with its Japanese garden and formal flower garden. Nunhead cemetery is a place of spooky romance popular with wildlife enthusiasts and dog walkers. Burgess Park marks the northern boundary of Peckham.
Leisure and the arts: Peckham Pulse in Melon Road has a swimming pool and hydrotherapy pool; next door is the popular library, now a Peckham landmark. There is a large multiplex cinema in Rye Lane.
Transport: Peckham and Nunhead stations are in Zone 2 (annual travel card £1,032). Peckham Rye is on a loop line that runs between Victoria (13 minutes) and London Bridge (11 minutes), and Thameslink trains run from Nunhead to Victoria (15 minutes) and St Pancras (25 minutes).
Council: Southwark (Labour controlled), has a band D council tax for the 2010/11 year of £1,221.
One-bedroom flat £182,000
Two-bedroom flat £217,000
Two-bedroom house £331,000
Three-bedroom house £365,000
Four-bedroom house £491,000
One-bedroom flat £700 to £800 a month
Two-bedroom flat £850 to £950 a month
Two-bedroom house £1,100 to £1,200 a month
Three-bedroom house £1,400 a month
Four-bedroom plus house £1,750+ a month
Source: Kinleigh Folkard & Hayward
Pictures by Barry Phillips Reuse content