The Knowledge: three secret London areas for house hunters to watch

The secret of good house hunting in London is knowing where to look. We uncover three pockets of London that are rapidly becoming sought-after addresses for those in the know.
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To pass The Knowledge a would-be London cabbie must memorise the 60,000 streets that lie within a six-mile radius of Charing Cross. By that reckoning the total number of streets in the capital must run into the hundreds of thousands.

No matter how well we think we know our city there are always areas that remain a mystery to us. This can mean missing out on an undiscovered gem of a conservation area, or a nascent urban village that is rapidly becoming a sought-after address among those in the know. Here are a few we have uncovered.

£599,950: a two-bedroom flat in converted St Stephen's Church, West Ealing

This small pocket of Victorian and Edwardian semi-detached homes is laid out in tree-lined streets close to St Stephen’s Church. Families take to it for its great schools, including fee-paying Notting Hill & Ealing High for girls, and St Benedict’s, which is co-ed.

State school options within a mile of St Stephen’s include Christ the Saviour Church of England Primary School and Drayton Manor High School, both rated “outstanding” by Ofsted. 

The local houses are particularly fine examples of their era, with iron balconies, timber porches and turrets. A four- or five-bedroom semi typically costs from £850,000 to £1.7 million.

The church that gives the area its name has been converted into flats, one of which, with two bedrooms, is on the market for £599,950 with Northfields. A two-bedroom flat in a period property would cost about £500,000.

Cleveland Park is on the doorstep, leading into the much larger Pitshanger Park, and The Avenue has a well-tended parade of cafés, restaurants and delis. 

Trains from West Ealing to Paddington take from 13 minutes and in 2018 West Ealing joins the Crossrail line, bringing a house price-boosting direct service to the West End and City.


£775,000: a four-bedroom waterside townhouse at Peachwalk Mews in E3

While the market for Victorian properties beside Victoria Park in Hackney has gone berserk in the last few years, south of the same park this small enclave of period homes is less well-known and much better value. 

This small grid of East End streets between the park and the Roman Road is also home to Chisenhale Art Place, which houses the Chisenhale Gallery, a great contemporary arts centre with a full programme of exhibitions, screenings, talks and workshops. There is an experimental dance company and individual artists’ studios on the same site. As well as Victoria Park, Mile End Park is just to the west of the area, so there is plenty of open space. 
The nearest Tube station is Mile End in Zone 2, on the Central, District and Hammersmith & City lines, so transport links are good. 

However, family buyers need to think carefully, since Chisenhale Primary School recently slipped from an Ofsted “good” to “requires improvement”.

The area’s big advantage is its quality houses. “This was one of the few areas of east London where no bombs hit during the Second World War so all the lovely period houses are still complete,” says Simon Tizzard, senior sales specialist at Franklyn James estate agents. 

Tizzard estimates that a three-bedroom house in the area would cost between £600,000 and £700,000. To the north of Victoria Park a similar property would cost about £1 million. Two-bedroom flats, meanwhile, cost about £380,000, compared to £450,000-plus on the other side of the park.

The shops aren’t great — though the Westfield mall in Stratford is close by and Roman Road market has an authentic vibe — while a bright dining spot is the Coborn Arms gastropub just off the Roman Road.


£1.4 million: a six-bedroom family house in Lee. Call Winkworth on 020 8852 0999

Sandwiched between Blackheath Village and Hither Green is Lee Manor, a south-east London enclave that is quietly gaining popularity with young professionals who seek value for money along with great train links. Trains from Lee station to London Bridge take only 13 minutes. 

The “village green” of Lee Manor is Manor House Gardens, a pretty Victorian park with a lake, a walled flower garden, tennis courts and a children’s playground. The park is the setting for a weekly farmers’ market, while the Lord Northbrook on Burnt Ash Road is a popular gastropub.

Lee Manor Primary School is rated as “satisfactory with some good features”, but Ofsted’s latest report notes that it is “improving rapidly”. Trinity Church of England School, for seniors, is rated “good”. The area has some fine Victorian houses, many divided into flats. Despite being five minutes’ drive from Blackheath, prices are far lower. Patricia Irwin-Brown, sales manager at KFH says a three-bedroom terrace in Lee Manor would cost £600,000-plus, against about £1 million in Blackheath. Two-bedroom flats come in at £400,000, compared with £600,000-plus. 

“There used to be a bit of a stigma against living in Lewisham,” says Irwin-Brown. “But now people are chasing value, all that is changing.” Buyers tend to be upsizers priced out of areas such as Battersea, Dulwich and Clapham. 

The lack of quality local shops is a downside, although Irwin-Brown points out that both Blackheath and the rapidly improving Hither Green are both within walking distance.

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