There are grand plans for Catford, though this south east London neighbourhood is not currently a thing of beauty, and the bottleneck on the South Circular is a major irritant both to locals and to road users passing through.
The council is consulting on ideas to demolish an eyesore tower block, replace the tired shopping centre, build several hundred new homes and possibly relocate the council offices sitting in the middle of the gyratory that sends traffic round the town centre.
A masterplan will be produced next year, for work to start two years later.
More recent developments include the transformation of the former Catford greyhound stadium into Catford Green with 635 new homes, and the regeneration of the Excalibur Estate that will replace post-war prefabs with new homes.
Catford Green overlooks Ladywell Fields, with a new green route along the Ravensbourne River linking the South Circular with the park. The Excalibur Estate redevelopment is more controversial.
One of the last major remaining estates of prefabs, which were built as a temporary solution to the housing crisis after the Second World War, it was worthy of preservation, according to architectural heritage guardians from The Twentieth Century Society.
However, just six of the prefabs have been listed by English Heritage and 371 new homes will be built by housing association L&Q on the rest of the site.
Catford is eight miles south-east of central London and sits in the shadow of its better-known neighbours, Lewisham to the north and Bromley to the south.
Its leafy streets of fine Victorian and Edwardian houses in the Culverley Green conservation area south-west of the town centre, and on the Corbett Estate in the roads off the South Circular close to Hither Green station, are unfairly ignored by house hunters.
However, estate agent Ronke Maye from the local branch of Kinleigh Folkard & Hayward says Catford is going in the right direction.
“We get families moving here from more expensive areas such as Dulwich and Blackheath because they are getting more for their money and Catford is seen as a good investment.”
The property scene
House hunters in Catford will find a mix of mainly Victorian, Edwardian and later houses, and modern flats.
Three-bedroom Victorian terrace houses built by Archibald Corbett start at about £525,000, while his larger four-bedroom houses can sell for as much as £850,000. Kinleigh Folkard & Hayward is selling a four-bedroom Corbett house in Ardgowan Road for £825,000.
Many of the large detached and semi-detached houses in the Culverley Green conservation area have been converted into flats. KFH is selling a two-bedroom garden flat in Bargery Road for £450,000.
Catford Green in Adenmore Road is the largest current development in Catford. Barratt Homes is now building the final phase of this 635-homes scheme overlooking Ladywell Fields and the Ravensbourne River.
Prices of the two- and three-bedroom properties range from £495,000 to £594,000. A green route through the site and improvements to the train station forecourts at Catford and Catford Bridge are planned.
The whole development completes next year. Call 0844 225 0032 for more information.
The Excalibur Estate is the redevelopment of a prefab estate in Hazelbank Road by housing association L&Q.
It will replace 180 prefabs with 371 new homes, of which 195 will be for affordable rent, 143 for private sale and 33 for shared ownership.
The first phase of 18 one- and two-bedroom flats for private sale launches soon off-plan, for occupation early next year.
The whole development will take another three years to complete. Visit excaliburse6.com for more.
The former Co-op building on the corner of Brownhill Road and Plassy Road in the town centre is being developed by Paye Homes into nine one- and two-bedroom flats with commercial premises on the ground floor. Call 01959 534446.
Help to Buy is available at Catford Green and the Excalibur Estate (as before).
KFH lettings manager Natalie Smith says families like to rent in Catford, going particularly for houses near the popular Torridon state primary school, and within walking distance of St Dunstan’s College, the all-through private school.
The Catford Green development has brought in a new breed of renter — young professional commuters.
People see Catford as an area where there is potential for significant house price growth, so according to Kinleigh Folkard & Hayward estate agent Ronke Maye, they are staying put.
SE6 is the Catford postcode.
Inchmery Road and Bargery Road in the Culverley Green conservation area; Fordel Road, Arngask Road and St Fillans Road on the Corbett Estate.
Catford is not on the Underground although the local council is lobbying for an extension to the Bakerloo line.
There are two Catford train stations, next to each other: Catford station trains take 22 minutes to Blackfriars, while Catford Bridge has trains to Charing Cross (25 minutes) via London Bridge (15 minutes) and Cannon Street (25 minutes) via Lewisham with connections to the Docklands Light Railway.
Hither Green has trains to Blackfriars that take 28 minutes, Charing Cross (25 minutes) via London Bridge (14 minutes), and Cannon Street (24 minutes) via London Bridge
(13 minutes). Useful commuter buses are the No 47 to London Bridge; the No 171 to Aldwych and the No 185 to Victoria. Most of the buses go to Lewisham where commuters can switch to the DLR. All stations are in Zone 3 and an annual travelcard to Zone 1 costs £1,520.
Lewisham council is Labour controlled. Band D council tax for 2017/2018 is £1,437.70.
Shops and restaurants
A big model of a black cat lashing out sits above the entrance of Catford Centre — but as the centre awaits redevelopment it features a branch of Tesco, pound shops, nail bars and empty units.
Elsewhere the town centre has branches of Argos, Boots, Superdrug, Peacocks and Aldi, and the Costa Coffee and Nando’s restaurant chains are here. Musical instrument shop Eric Lindsey in Rushey Green sells everything from guitars to keyboards to drum kits to ukuleles.
In the same road Deli Nene is a new Turkish café and in Bromley Road, Mekan is a longer-established Turkish restaurant.
The Catford Island Retail Park in Plassy Road has branches of Lidl, Dreams, JD Sports and McDonald’s.
There is a market with street food stalls in Catford Broadway which has recently had a face lift with new paving. There’s an excellent flower stall here selling interesting garden bedding plants and perennials, plus Japanese restaurant Sapporo Ichiban and Vietnamese café Saigon Food.
The arrival from Deptford of a branch of Little Nan’s Bar, a kitsch cocktail bar, in the Broadway Theatre has created a lot of excitement, as has the reopening of the previously burnt-out Catford Bridge Tavern in Station Approach.
Catford Constitutional Club is a popular pub tucked away off Catford Broadway run by the ever-growing Antic pub group; there is a monthly film club.
KFH lettings manager Natalie Smith recommends Jerk Scene for Jamaican food in Sandhurst Road, also home to Good Food, a not-for-profit delicatessen established by local crowdfunding.
Like so much of London, interesting new independent shops are thriving not in town centres but in more tucked-away secondary streets.
Examples near Catford include Hither Green where You Don’t Bring Me Flowers is a flower shop and café, and in Ladywell along Ladywell Road there are independent shops and cafés including a new gift shop, Honeybourne’s.
Mountsfield Park in Brownhill Road has tennis courts, a bowling green, a bandstand, meadow and ornamental gardens, and good views over Catford to Crystal Palace.
The Waterlink Way is an eight-mile walk and cycle path from Sydenham to the Thames following the rivers Pool and Ravensbourne which runs through Catford.
Leisure and the arts
The Broadway Theatre puts on a diverse mix of theatre and music, including a pantomime season featuring star names, stand-up comedy, nostalgia shows, drama and children’s theatre.
Glass Mill Leisure Centre in Loampit Vale in nearby Lewisham is the local council’s flagship facility with two swimming pools.
State school provision for Catford is patchy. The following state primary schools are rated “outstanding” by Ofsted: Holy Cross RC in Culverley Road; Brindishe Green in Beacon Road, Rathfern in Rathfern Road and Torridon Infants (ages three to seven) in Torridon Road.
The “outstanding” state comprehensive school is Prendergast (girls, ages 11 to 18) in Adelaide Avenue in Ladywell. Haberdashers’ Aske’s Hatcham College (co-ed, ages three to 18) in New Cross is an “outstanding” all-through state school.
St Dunstan’s College (co-ed, ages three to 18) in Stanstead Road is a popular private all-through school and a major reason why families move to Catford. Colfe’s School (co-ed, ages three to 18) in Horn Park Lane in Lee is another popular private option.