Though this former dockyard on the south bank, facing towards Wapping, Limehouse and Canary Wharf, was redeveloped in the Eighties, it hasn’t experienced the kind of gentrification that is sweeping southward. This means prices are quite low, though Rotherhithe’s fortunes maybe about to change.
“Prices are on average 35 per cent to 60 per cent lower than neighbouring parts of SE1, such as Shad Thames,” says James Hyman, head of residential agency at Cluttons.
Uninspiring flats were thrown up in Rotherhithe 30 years ago, and the neighbourhood has a reputation for being deprived and depressing, with little going on locally.
On the plus side, however, the East London line extension has given Rotherhithe a Zone 2 train link to Canada Water. This, says Hyman, has encouraged a new wave of buyers and more interesting house building.
He believes Rotherhithe today is split into two sides: the slightly ambitiously titled Rotherhithe Village, and plain old Rotherhithe.
The “village” covers the streets close to the station and landmark St Mary’s Church, where high-end warehouse conversions and smart flats have appeared in the past few years. A two-bedroom flat in the village would cost from about £700,000, though penthouses overlooking the Thames are priced at anything up to £4 million.
The area has character and a couple of good pubs, notably The Mayflower in Rotherhithe Street, which stands near the landing steps where the Pilgrim Fathers set sail for the New World via Southampton in 1620 aboard their ship, The Mayflower. The village also has a local café — not the sort that goes with café culture — but lacks independent shops.
GOOD VALUE TO BE HAD
The real property bargains are to be found in Rotherhithe itself, in the streets on the peninsula overlooking Limehouse and Canary Wharf. Here, says Cluttons’ James Hyman, you can pick up a two-bedroom flat from £250,000.
“Surrey Quays shopping centre has improved greatly over time and all the light industrial is now becoming flats. The residential schemes are improving the infrastructure, which attracts better commercial rentals.”
These schemes include Barratt London’s Redwood Park, 212 homes beside the Russia Dock Woodland park. Early phases of the scheme have almost sold out, 85 per cent to UK buyers, with a strong emphasis on investment buyers. The next phase was launched on October 4 with prices starting at £350,000 for a one-bedroom flat, ranging to £650,000 for a three-bedroom flat. Residents will be able to move in next autumn and the whole project will be finished by December next year. See www.barratthomes.co.uk.
Sellar Property Group, which built the Shard, plans more than 1,000 homes at Surrey Water, designed by leading architect David Chipperfield and including a 40-storey tower, cinema and shops.
One thing Rotherhithe already has is good schools. St John’s Catholic Primary School and Redriff Primary School are rated “outstanding” by Ofsted, while for seniors, Bacon’s College is considered “good” by the watchdog. Most property is made up of flats but there are a few family houses. Three storey, three-bedroom townhouses are priced from about £600,000, while a two-bedroom terrace home will cost £500,000 to £550,000. There’s a handful of streets with dock workers’ cottages built in the Forties and Fifties. These three-bedroom terrace homes, on streets including Acorn Walk and Swan Street, sell for £500,000-plus.
WEALTH OF GREEN SPACE
Rotherhithe is surprisingly green, dotted with parks such as Stave Hill Ecological Park and Southwark Park. Greenland Dock has a marina, the Surrey Docks Watersports Centre offers sailing and kayaking, and there is a city farm with a great café.
“I have worked here 14 years and I have gradually seen a massive change in the people living locally,” says Michael Petherbridge, branch manager of Oliver Jacques estate agents. “It is all professional people now who fall in love with the river, green space, the docks, and the prices. But nobody here is going to say, ‘Come to Rotherhithe for a night out’, so people don’t get to know the area.”
Petherbridge is right when he says Albion Street, Rotherhithe’s high street, is a depressing drag of shops protected by graffiti-scarred metal shutters. It is not a place to hang out and browse — although the latest Metropolitan Police data says crime rates are around average for London.
Agents say Rotherhithe will take a turn for the better when it gets a leisure centre, higher-end shops, attractive bars and bistros, for residents of flats — that are the only thing now being built locally — to spend their money in.