Bermondsey's beginning to buzz

David Spittles finds a new cultural quarter emerging in an area an easy walk from the City
The Parker Building, Bermondsey Spa
From £285,000: for a one-bedroom apartment at the Parker Building. Shared-ownership options will be available
Bermondsey’s residential rise appears unstoppable. The heart of the area, which lies back from the Thames between London Bridge and Tower Bridge, is changing fast and the neighbourhood has the sort of buzz enjoyed by Hoxton during the dotcom boom.

Historically, this Docklands district was closely linked to the leather trade, which left a legacy of handsome warehouses and factories that developers are continuing to discover.

Small design businesses, art galleries and firms of architects are moving in, and the district's rougher edges are getting a facelift, too, with regeneration sweeping away ugly tenements in favour of mixed-tenure housing that young professionals are proud to live in.

Bermondsey is within walking distance of the City and a short hop on the Jubilee line to Canary Wharf and Bond Street. It is also plugged into the South Bank cultural quarter and will be a big beneficiary when the Shard opens, bringing another 10,000 employees to the area.

The final phase of 314 homes has been launched at Bermondsey Spa, one of the capital's best examples of housing association-led regeneration. This 50-acre zone sandwiched between Shad Thames and Grange Road had been a Bermondsey backwater, untouched by gentrification. With an imposing railway viaduct slicing through the area, arches became derelict, leading to property blight and affecting nearby council estates.

Some Victorian architecture set around an upgraded park, site of the original spa, remains, while architects are reintroducing elements of a Fifties street pattern, linking the key sites with good quality public space and knitting the neighbourhood into its historic surroundings.

A guiding principle has been the comfortable marriage of tenures — homes for private sale, shared ownership, social and "intermediate" rent — and this continues with the Parker Building, which completes the 10-year project.

Maple Quays, a residential complex near the Jubilee line station, in Rotherhithe
From £73,750: for a 25 per cent share in Maple Quays, a residential complex near the Jubilee line station in Rotherhithe
Overall, the architectural style is crisp-contemporary, but warm too, fusing different materials such as metal glass, timber, brick and render. Higher apartments have big terraces and projecting balconies providing impressive views of the city skyline.

One-bedroom apartments are priced from £285,000. Shared ownership options will be available in the summer. Visit bermondseyspa.co.uk or call 020 7231 1200.

DEVELOPMENT 'GATEWAY'


This part of the scheme includes a new public square on the corner of Abbey Street and Jamaica Road — a "gateway" into the development. Jamaica Road has been the borderline between fashionable Shad Thames and gritty Bermondsey but the boundary is beginning to blur. Currently, Shad Thames prices are at least 30 per cent higher.

The Tanyard is a private development of 17 apartments on the Shad Thames side of Jamaica Road. Here, one-bedroom flats cost from £324,995. Call Linden Homes on 0844 488 3724. Coming soon from the same developer are apartments on Grange Road, a cheaper patch worth investigating.

Rotherhithe has also been helped by regeneration, especially around the Canada Water commercial hub, where modern apartment blocks are inhabited by Canary Wharf traders. Maple Quays is a new residential complex near the Jubilee line station.

Affinity Sutton housing association has released shared ownership apartments priced from £73,750 for a 25 per cent share (full price, £295,000). Call 0300 100 0303.

Jarno Stet
Jarno Stet has taken advantage of shared ownership
Shared ownership allowed Jarno Stet, 30, who works for Westminster council, to leap up the property ladder by purchasing a two-bedroom apartment at Maple Quays. He paid £121,000 for the 25 per cent share.

"It's an affordable way of living in an expensive place like London. I had been renting a property in the area with friends and paying £1,000 a month for a room, without bills. My total outgoings are now less and I have my own place."

His daily commute to Westminster takes 20 minutes.

Affinity Sutton requires only a five per cent deposit because it can arrange 95 per cent mortgages.

To find out more about affordable homes across the capital, including the Government's "no-deposit" FirstBuy scheme, visit firstbuyscheme.org.uk

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