Kennington has been one of central London's often-overlooked suburbs by homebuyers who are more used to driving through it than exploring its hidden tree-lined streets of grand Victorian homes, Georgian gems and quiet garden squares.
© Barry Phillips
But this hasn't always been the case. Blue plaques scattered around the area show that some of history's most famous actors, authors and artists have lived here, including Charlie Chaplin, William Hogarth and Vincent Van Gogh.
Find properties to buy in Kennington.
In recent years this south London district has come to the attention of City professionals, families and first-time buyers who are discovering its good-value homes that are moments from the Thames and the scenic South Bank.
Justin Bhoday, Sales Manager of Kinleigh Folkard & Hayward's Kennington branch, has worked in the area for over 10 years and says its central location and transport links are a huge selling point, with easy access to the Northern line from Kennington and Oval Tube stations, and the Victoria line and mainline rail from nearby Vauxhall.
"Kennington is village-like with a few estate agents, restaurants and some really good pubs. There is a good local vibe; and although it's not a shopping hub it is very close to central London with lots of bridges giving you plenty of options to cross the river," says Bhoday.
And the locals can now take full advantage of London's cycle "superhighway" which provides a swift, scenic route from Kennington Park Road into the West End or the City.
What properties are typical to the area?
Kennington has a mix of property, with some really good early-Victorian three- to four-storey houses and conversions off the main road and on some of the garden squares, but the houses in particular are in short supply. There are five-storey Georgian terraces set back from the main roads as well as new-build developments and purpose-built flats. As the local area was bombed heavily in World War II, there are quite a few Fifties council estates which are a good option for buyers with a lower budget.
Who is buying here?
Many buyers that already live in the area are trying to trade up and down. First-time buyers and those renting locally start looking to buy here after discovering the convenient transport links. During the past decade, this area has appeared on the radar of more bankers and City workers as it is so close to South Bank. There are also more young families moving here, as well as those wanting to move inwards from suburbs such as Croydon, to lower the cost of train fares.
Where are the 'hottest' properties?
Kennington’s garden squares are highly sought after. Cleaver Square is particularly charming, with the four-storey houses (priced upwards of £1 million) snapped up as soon as they come on to the market. West Square and the road running off it has impressive, large family houses while Walcot and St Mary’s Squares have smaller, listed houses, typically spread across two or three floors.
Where are the 'hidden gems'?
Bhoday believes the whole of Kennington is still relatively undiscovered as it has a limited number of actual roads. Buyers in each price range tend to know where potential properties are but not enough people know what is available.
What are the best investment opportunities in the area?
The letting market is very busy locally and demand is strong across all types of property, from ex-council to period homes.
As Kennington is in the centre of London, hardened investors with big property portfolios like the strong yields achieved here, and first-time investors are attracted to this area as many properties have a guaranteed rental income. Ex-council flats are good value as you can still get a two-bedroom property for the price of a one-bedroom period home.
How is local parking?
There is residents parking as well as pay and display – which doesn’t tend to be too oversubscribed as it is expensive and the traffic wardens seem to outnumber the cars.
What are service charges in the area like?
Service charges on the numerous buildings differ depending on what is offered within the building. The council tax is either going to be in the Lambeth or Southwark boroughs. The annual fee for a Victorian conversion flat is about £800-£1,000, while at Imperial Court – an old army and navy building in Kennington which has a concierge and parking, would charge about £4,000 a year for a three-bedroom flat.
What are your favourite viewings to show potential buyers?
The period houses tend to have a sense of occasion about them with stunning features, such as the original banisters. It is rare for any of the five-storey Georgian houses to be put on the market, but when they are it's great to run potential buyers through all the floors.
If money were no object, where would you buy in this area?
There is a house in a great location in Austral Street (left) that has been beautifully finished and has four bedrooms, three bathrooms, a garden roof terrace and an abundance of entertaining space.
Justin Bhoday is the Sales Manager of Kinleigh Folkard & Hayward's Kennington branch.