Within living memory, Bermondsey was a run-down jumble of abandoned factories and warehouses, with little to recommend it other than its central location and the simple fact that it had space to build on.
In recent years, developers have poured billions of pounds into new housing schemes in the area, while restaurants and bars now populate Bermondsey Street, and Maltby Street Market has quietly become one of the best places to buy food in Britain.
The jewel in Bermondsey’s crown was the opening, in 2011, of the largest outpost of the White Cube gallery — and, as everyone knows, when artists move in a postcode’s reputation as up-and-coming is sealed.
The first-time buyers guide to London
The downside for first time buyers is that top-end apartments in the area now routinely sell for seven-figure sums, and the average price of a flat is slowly inching towards the half a million pound mark.
But there is an opportunity for buyers without limitless funds to buy in one of its steel and glass towers, because housing association Peabody (www.peabody.org.uk) has 62 shared ownership flats in the new 10-storey Reflector building on Chambers Street.
The majority (51) of these flats have one bedroom and are priced at a first time buyer friendly £106,250 for a 25 per cent share.
There are also 11 two-bedroom flats, priced at £137,500, also for a 25 per cent share. Buyers will need to factor in a monthly service charge, which is likely to be between £130 and £150 a month.
The homes will be ready to move into this spring, and people living or working in south-east London will get priority on the homes, which will be released for sale in tranches of 10 throughout the year.
“They all have open-plan living spaces, they are generous in size, and the specification is of a good quality — with oak laminate flooring, quality carpeting and appliances,” says Andrew Peglau, marketing manager at Peabody. “And every apartment comes with a balcony or a winter garden.”
Among the good points of Reflector are its location, about a six-minute walk from Bermondsey (Zone 2), which offers Jubilee Line services direct to London Bridge, Canary Wharf, Stratford and the West End.
The big downside is that the homes are being built as part of the major Chambers Wharf development.
Property developer St James wants to build 400 new homes between Reflector and the River Thames, so buying with a river view now might be a bit of a risk, and prices could eventually be hit.