Affordable Zone 2: homes for first-time buyers in Bermondsey

Entry prices for these flats, on the doorstep of the bars and restaurants on Bermondsey Street and just a mile from London Bridge and Canada Water, start at £122,625.
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First-time buyers tend to accept the need to compromise on location, spreading their house-hunting net very much further from the centre of London than they would like.

Those who are willing to go along the shared-ownership route, however, can at least consider living in edgy and interesting Bermondsey from this summer, thanks to an innovative new housing scheme.

The Exchange has an entry price of only £122,625 for a 45 per cent share of a 441sq ft studio flat. For that you will need a £12,262 deposit and be able to pay monthly costs of £1,101. But just look at what you get. 

The Exchange is an easy walk from  Butler’s Wharf and the Thames, while all the galleries and bars of Bermondsey Street are on the doorstep. 

There’s also an independent cinema and weekly antiques market at Bermondsey Square, while the artisan food shops of Maltby Street are nearby and a gastronomic delight.

Notting Hill Home Ownership has 51 homes for sale at The Exchange, which his part of the giant Bermondsey Spa regeneration zone.

Buying a home, or even a share of one, in an area like this isn’t going to be dirt cheap and Wendy Gordon, sales manager (shared ownership) at Notting Hill concedes that not everyone will be able to afford the site. However, for those who can stretch to it, the properties could represent not only a great home but a superb investment. Property prices in Bermondsey are rising strongly, up 10.5 per cent in the last 12 months according to property website Zoopla, to an average £379,879.

One-bedroom flats of 544sq ft at The Exchange start at £122,000 for a 40 per cent share. Buyers will need a £12,200 deposit, and it is estimated that the monthly costs will come in at about £1,197.

There are also two-bedroom flats of 778sq ft, from £161,875 for a 35 per cent share. These homes will require a £16,188 deposit, and the monthly outgoings are estimated at £1,735.

The largest homes available are three-bedroom flatsof 952sq ft priced at £204,750 for a 35 per cent share. The deposit required will therefore be £30,000 and the monthly costs are £1,958.

Priority for the homes, which will be move-in ready by July, will be given to people already living and working in the area. There are also some one- and two-bedroom flats - priced at £75,625 and £113,125 respectively for a 25 per cent share - which have been reserved specifically for those living locally. The one-bedroom properties will require a £11,344 deposit and the monthly costs will be about £738. The two-bedroom flats will need a £16,969 deposit, and will cost an estimated £853 per month.


High-spec: a kitchen at The Exchange where flats range from studios to three-bedroom homes

The flats are well designed by architects PCKO, with huge windows, white gloss kitchens and wood floors, and each has some sort of outdoor space, in the shape of a balcony, terrace or garden. There are also landscaped communal gardens at the heart of the development, and Bermondsey Spa Gardens, a 4.5-acre public park, is across the road.

“What we love about this development is the level of specification. The homes have been finished to a really high standard,” said Gordon. “We have also had really positive feedback about the development itself. 

“It is city living but it has got that slightly villagey, bohemian feel to it with the independent shops and the market. You are right on the fringes of the City.”

Cost aside, the only downside Gordon can think of is that parking on the site is extremely limited and residents are not eligible to apply for residents’ parking permits.

However, public transport links are excellent. The nearest Tube station is Bermondsey in Zone 2, which offers Jubilee line services direct to London Bridge, Canary Wharf, Stratford and the West End. 

And since London Bridge and Canada Water are both about a mile’s walk away, City workers might be able to forego a daily train ride altogether.

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