The Family Hotspots 2014 report compares data on educational attainment, crime levels, quality of local amenities, green space and property prices to draw up a list of the best locations for families in England and Wales.
Bexley’s victory is thanks to its schools. Ninety-seven per cent of school children who live within the DA5 postcode — which also includes parts of Albany Park and Joyden’s Wood — attain a good grade in Key Stage 4 maths and English, trouncing national average levels of just over 50 per cent.
An average two-bedroom property costs a relatively modest £245,000 and trains from Bexley reach either Cannon Street or Charing Cross within 40 minutes. A season ticket costs £2,288, making the area a good commuter option.
Kevin Wooder, managing partner of Robinson Jackson estate agents, says families flock to Bexley for its four grammar schools. On this basis he says that around 40 per cent of his buyers are families leaving more central south and south-east London.
Beths Grammar School, for boys, and co-ed Bexley Grammar School are deemed “outstanding” by Ofsted, while Townley Grammar, for girls, and co-ed Chislehurst and Sidcup Grammar both have a “good” rating from the government schools watchdog.
And while competition to get into these selective schools is fierce, entry is based on an exam rather than catchment area. Sidcup doesn’t suffer the price hikes for properties nearest the schools and minuscule catchment areas that most London parents are all too familiar with.
Bexley housing does not possess much individuality, with lots of Sixties boxy estates. But it passes the open space test thanks to Danson Park — which has a boating lake and an excellent playground — while the high street still has small independent cafés, shops and boutiques. Ferraris, a long-established Italian restaurant, is a Bexley institution, as is The King’s Head pub.
A four-bedroom semi-detached house in Bexley would cost between £450,000 and £550,000, while a five-bedroom detached house would cost between £700,000 and £900,000. Bexley’s homes rose around 12 per cent in the last 12 months but values are predicted by agents to remain stable into next year.
Other family-friendly locations which scored highly in the hotspot survey, by the Family Investments company, include Banstead and Epsom, both in Surrey, and the WD3 postcode which includes Rickmansworth and Chorleywood.