The south London town of Sutton is holding its breath in anticipation of its football team’s FA Cup battle against the mighty Arsenal, with kick-off set for Monday night next week at Sutton United’s modest 5,000-seat Gander Green Lane stadium.
The Sutton side’s unexpected arrival in the fifth round — being televised on BBC1 — follows its historic 1-0 defeat of Championship side Leeds United late last month, after captain Jamie Collins’s stunning second-half penalty.
Known to fans as the Us, Sutton play in the National League, the fifth tier of British football, and are only the ninth non-league side to reach the FA Cup fifth round since 1945.
With a mile-long High Street, Sutton is London’s sixth busiest shopping hub and meets many other family needs. Estate agent William Campbell, from the local branch of Foxtons, says the town is popular with parents who move with the kids for the excellent state schools, including five grammar schools, while the commute into Victoria and London Bridge is half an hour.
There’s plenty of open green space, and homes remain relatively affordable.
Ten miles south-west of central London, Sutton has Morden to the north, Carshalton and Wallington to the east, Banstead to the south and Cheam to the west.
Sutton has many very ordinary Twenties and Thirties semis, but it also has some little-known gems. There are large detached houses in the leafy roads of South Sutton near Belmont village, and some very lovely Edwardian houses in the Landseer conservation area off Cheam Road.
There’s is a small enclave of Art Deco houses and flats in Grove Avenue also off Cheam Road — though most have sadly lost their original Crittall windows — and Sutton also has a garden suburb, built by sausage-and-ice cream maker Thomas Wall before the First World War, in the Benhilton area north of the town centre, where there are roads with grass verges and beech hedges, and houses with sweeping red-tile roofs and front doors set at an angle.
The town’s largest new development is Sutton Point, a mixed-use scheme in Sutton Court Road near Sutton station. It offers 332 one- to three-bedroom flats in two tower blocks, an 80-bed hotel and 59 serviced flats built around a new public square.
The project involves the demolition of an existing tower block. The planned launch is at the end of the year, with completion due in autumn 2018. Visit suttonpoint.co.uk or call 020 8390 9265. At the far end of Sutton High Street, a Linden Homes development, The Quarter, on the six-acre Old Gas Works site has led the £50 million regeneration charge in this part of town.
There is a large new Sainsbury’s store, new shop and restaurant units that are unlet as yet, and Linden’s 181 one- and two-bedroom flats and five townhouses. Two flats remain, priced from £340,000 with Help to Buy available. Call 01883 868 443.
Help to Buy is also available at Sutton Court, an Inspired Homes development of 82 one- and two-bedroom flats in Sutton Court Road opposite Sutton Point. Prices start at £274,950 for a one-bedroom flat and £369,950 for a two-bedroom flat, for completion this summer. Call 020 8688 6552.
Housing association L&Q is behind Seventeen next door to Sutton Court, where 28 one- and two-bedroom flats are available for shared ownership, priced from £98,875 for 35 per cent of a one-bedroom flat with a market value of £282,500. Call 03330 033750.
Sutton is popular with families renting while children are at local schools, while young professional renters like the town’s new developments. Landlords tend to be overseas investors, or couples who buy a place together and keep one of their old homes as a rental investment.
Estate agent William Campbell of Foxtons says the average turnover in Sutton is about five years with plenty of scope for trading up and down. “I am occasionally asked to value houses which have been owned by the same family for 50 years, and who are only the home’s second owners.”
SM2 is the most desirable Sutton postcode and covers the South Sutton and Belmont areas. SM1 covers the town centre, the Benhilton area and extends to Rosehill and parts of Carshalton. SM3 to the west of SM1 includes Sutton Common.
William Campbell points to the South Sutton roads such as York Road, Cornwall Road, The Gallop, The Downsway and Chiltern Road.
The five- and six-bedroom Edwardian houses in the Landseer conservation area are also highly desirable and sell for about £1 million, half the price of something similar in the Wandsworth “Toast Rack”.
Up and coming
St Helier Estate, built between 1928 and 1936 between Sutton and Morden, is a former London County Council estate on garden suburb lines, where the simply designed houses offer value for money.
Trains from Sutton station to Victoria and London Bridge take a little over half an hour. Thameslink services to St Pancras, via Blackfriars and Farringdon, take about 50 minutes.
From Belmont, trains take about 45 minutes to Victoria, and from West Sutton — the station closest to Sutton United FC’s ground — Thameslink services reach St Pancras in about an hour, although many commuters change at Wimbledon for Waterloo.
Sutton Common has trains to London Bridge taking around 55 minutes, and Thameslink trains to St Pancras.
Sutton, Belmont and West Sutton stations are in Zone 5 and an annual travelcard to Zone 1 costs £2,208. Sutton Common is in Zone 4 (annual travelcard, £1,860).
Sutton and Merton councils are lobbying for an extension of Tramlink from Wimbledon to Sutton and then on to the London Cancer Hub — The Royal Marsden and the Institute of Cancer Research — at Belmont.
Sutton council is Liberal-Democrat controlled and Band D council tax for 2016/2017 is £1,486.03.
Shops and restaurants
Sutton has an active Business Improvement District called Successful Sutton. It works hard to keep the high street alive and in spite of some empty shops — the closure of Bhs left a big hole — it seems to be holding its own in the face of stiff competition from Wimbledon and Croydon.
There is a Debenhams department store and the St Nicholas shopping centre is looking a lot better than Croydon’s Whitgift Centre as it waits for Westfield to take over.
Sutton’s smaller Times Square shopping centre is undergoing refurbishment. A new Sainsbury’s store has opened at the Old Gas Works development which has brought new life to the shabby northern end of the high street.
Sutton’s most interesting shop is Pearson Cycles, which claims to be the oldest bicycle shop in the world — verified by the Guinness Book of Records. It has been run by the same family in the High Street since 1860 when it started life as a blacksmith’s and still makes its own bikes.
Chain restaurants include PizzaExpress, Zizzi and Nando’s. The best restaurant is Brasserie Vacherin, an award-winning classic French bistro. The Grumpy Mole gastropub in nearby Cheam is also recommended.
Manor Park in Carshalton Road is a town centre park with a playground, an outdoor gym and an eco-friendly café built from straw bales. Rose Hill Park West in Rosehill has a bowling green, tennis courts, a café and outdoor gym.
Covering 760 acres, Banstead Heath is great for walking and horse riding and is one of the Banstead Commons, four separate areas of common land, including two that are Sites of Special Scientific Interest.
Leisure and the arts
The Secombe Theatre, named after the comedian Harry Secombe who lived in the town for 30 years, closed last year. The Empire in the St Nicholas shopping centre is the local multiplex cinema.
The following state primary schools are judged to be “outstanding”: Manor Park in Greyhound Road; Westbourne in Anton Crescent; Cheam Park Farm in Molesey Drive; St Cecilia’s RC in London Road, and Avenue in Avenue Road.
The “outstanding” comprehensive schools are Glenthorne High (co-ed, ages 11 to 18) in Sutton Common Road; Cheam High (co-ed, ages 11 to 18) in Chatsworth Road, and St Philomena’s RC (girls, ages 11 to 18) in Pound Street, Carshalton. The other local comprehensive schools — Greenshaw High (co-ed, ages 11 to 18) in Grennell Road; Carshalton Boys Sports College (ages 11 to 18) in Winchcombe Road, Carshalton; Carshalton High (girls, ages 11 to 18) in West Street, Carshalton; Overton Grange (co-ed, ages 11 to 18) in Stanley Road, and Stanley Park (co-ed, ages 11 to 18) in Damson Way in Carshalton — are all judged “good”.
Carshalton College, a Further Education college in Nightingale Road, Carshalton, is also judged “good”.
Sutton’s grammar schools draw pupils from all over south London and, having secured a place, some parents will move closer to the school. However, only two, Sutton Grammar in Manor Lane and Wilson’s School (both for boys, ages 11 to 18) in Mollison Drive in Wallington get an Ofsted “outstanding” rating. The others, Nonsuch High (girls, ages 11 to 18) in Ewell Road, Cheam; Wallington County (boys, ages 11 to 18) in Croydon Road, Wallington, and Wallington High (girls, ages 11 to 18) in Woodcote Road, also in Wallington, are judged “good” by the government education watchdog.
The private primary and preparatory schools are: Homefield (boys, ages three to 13) in WesternRoad; Seaton House (girls, ages two to 11 with boys in the nursery) in Banstead Road; Collingwood (co-ed, ages two to 11) in Springfield Road in Wallington. There are two all-through schools for girls: Greenacre (ages three to 18) in Sutton Lane in Banstead and the high-achieving Sutton High (ages three to 18), part of the Girls’ Day School Trust, in Cheam Road.