Housing association Affinity Sutton (affinitysutton.com) has 36 flats for sale in this high-end Berkeley Homes development, half of them one-bedroom and half two-bedroom, and more are due to be ready at the start of 2014.
In terms of commutability, the area is hard to beat. Train services from East Croydon to London Bridge take just 13 minutes and you can be at Victoria in 17 minutes. An annual season ticket costs £1,412.
The shared-ownership homes are also manageable, price-wise. A 30 per cent share of a one-bedroom flat with a market price of £192,500 will cost £57,750. A 25 per cent share of a two-bedroom home, with a market value of £260,000, will cost a shared owner £65,000.
And while buyers are of course free to arrange their own mortgages, for those who are finding that raising a deposit is their key stumbling block, Affinity Sutton has arranged a deal with Santander bank, which will offer 95 per cent mortgages to buyers at a competitive interest rate of 4.99 per cent.
The scheme is available to anyone who either lives or works in south-west London, and buyers of one-bedroom flats will need a minimum household income of £30,000.
Those buying two-bedroom flats will need to earn at least £37,000. The maximum income ceiling for eligibility is £64,000.
"We have done some research and shared ownership is very much more affordable than private renting," said Yvette Ruggins, sales director at Affinity Sutton. The monthly cost of taking on a one-bedroom flat at Saffron Square works out at around £700 — Ruggins says that renting a similar flat in the area would cost around £900. Two-bedroom flats, meanwhile, will cost around £928 per month including mortgage and rent costs.
New piazzas to accompany the development
The price of the flats includes kitchen appliances and flooring, and the décor is being kept neutral. Ruggins said: "We are always keeping an eye to affordability and people will be able to move in without having to spend much money."
The wider development (saffronsquare.co.uk) will include a total of more than 700 homes and is rather glamorous, with open pedestrian piazzas dotted with fountains, a landmark tower, and cafés, bars and shops. As an added incentive, the shared-ownership buyers will be able to use a range of communal facilities such as a concierge and gym.
But however snazzy Saffron Square might be, there is no hiding the fact that Croydon itself has problems. It was one of the flashpoints in the 2011 riots (after which Mayor Boris Johnson agreed to invest £23 million in upgrading the town centre) and architect Lord Rogers, writing in the Evening Standard this year, complained that while it has good transport and plenty of office space, it lacks "vitality" and simply empties out at night.
However, the reason these Saffron Square flats look like ones to watch is that last month, shopping mall giant Westfield and property developer Hammerson agreed to co-operate on a £1 million redevelopment of two rundown Croydon shopping centres, the Whitgift and the Centrale.
If Westfield's other London shopping centres act as a model, then this is brilliant news for Croydon. The site, covering two million square feet, will likely include scores of high-end shops, plus cafés, restaurants and leisure facilities and will give the area a brand-new beating heart when the centre opens in 2018.