Some people want the best of all worlds. They work in central London so don’t want — or can’t afford — to live there. Yet they do want a short commute, and to be close enough to the heart of town to still feel the buzz. For those who don’t want to stray too far, a study of every council ward in Travel Zone 2 reveals pockets of value, even in the most expensive areas.
The most expensive Zone 2 options are to be found in an elite cluster of urban villages, all of which would pass the coffee shop, independent deli and organic butcher tests, say researchers Savills.
Hampstead leads the field with an average house price of £1.65 million, up 32 per cent in the last five years. Frognal and Fitzjohns ward, south-west of Hampstead Village, commands an average of £1.36 million, up 22 per cent.
However, Camden Town and Primrose Hill ward, on £1.15 million, has outperformed, up 75 per cent in the same period. Simon Edwards, a director at Savills, says Hampstead is seen as settled in its ways, while Primrose Hill is newly fashionable, with a batch of great gastropubs, boutiques and celebrity residents. He fears the planned High Speed 2 rail linkcould blight some areas but for now, buyers are paying £800,000 to £900,000 for a two-bedroom flat or £3.5 million to £4 million for a four-bedroom terrace house.
£550,000: this one-bedroom flat in Cambridge Grove, W6, has it's own private garden
The most economical part of the ward is the western, Camden Town side. “It hasn’t got the cachet of Primrose Hill, and it’s more congested and noisy,” says Edwards. Two-bedroom flats there cost about £650,000-£700,000. The Government’s recent decision to drop plans for a rail link from King’s Cross to Euston, which would have caused years of disruption in Camden Town, may encourage buyers in and boost prices.
The Town ward in the west, covering parts of Parsons Green and Fulham, has an average £1.05 million price, up 83 per cent in five years largely thanks to buyers priced out of Chelsea and Knightsbridge and tempted by some attractive new build, especially by the river.
Homes in Lea Bridge in Waltham Forest, average price £229,978, up 10 per cent in five years, and Canning Town North — average £226,044, up 14 per cent — less than a quarter of the cost of those in Primrose Hill and Fulham, are just as well connected to central London.
Price growth in these lower-value areas is far weaker than in their more affluent counterparts. Indeed, prices in Plaistow South, and Green Street East and West, both in Newham, have fallen a percentage point or two in five years, still struggling out of recession.
The least expensive areas are concentrated in east London, and so far they have not been adopted by middle-class “pioneers” priced out of the more expensive villages. They lack the period housing, good schools and burgeoning café culture that tend to lead on to gentrification. A possible exception is New Cross, the best-performing of the bargain wards, with prices up 11 per cent to an average £217,499. Jason Davis, sales manager at Kinleigh Folkard & Hayward, says the reason is the arrival of the East London line and the overspill of buyers priced out of Greenwich and Blackheath.
Davis believes the best areas to look are in and off Lewisham Way, where two-bedroom flats in Victorian houses cost between £250,000 and £300,000, and three-bedroom houses are priced £500,000 to £600,000.
Buyers are starting to request New Cross, says Davis, who suspects they harbour hopes that it will “do a Peckham” and begin a rapid process of gentrification. On this basis, he anticipates that price rises of 10 to 15 per cent in the next 18 months are not out of the question.
Buyers searching for affordability and evidence of a price recovery should head for Hammersmith Broadway ward, which includes highly desirable Brackenbury Village and Brook Green. With an average price of £795,803 it does not make it into the most expensive prime peripheries, but it has enjoyed price growth of 64 per cent in five years.
£1.4 million: Brackenbury Village House in Hammersmith has four bedrooms and room to extend
Justin Holder, sales director at Marsh & Parsons, says growth is down to good transport links, great schools — parents fight for Brackenbury and John Betts primary schools in particular — quality period family homes in real neighbourhoods, “and people being priced out of Kensington, Holland Park and Notting Hill.” Two-bedroom flats sell for £650,000-£850,000, while a five- or six-bedroom terrace house costs £2 million to £2.5 million. Shops in King Street and Shepherd’s Bush Road are improving, restaurants are changing and Westfield is nearby.
In north London, Cantelowes, which covers parts of Camden Town and Kentish Town, has an average £640,758 price, with growth of 61 per cent in five years. Savills’ Simon Edwards says education, notably Camden School for Girls, is a draw. “A lot of people move to this area because they want to get their girls in.” Cantelowes will benefit from the opening of Collège Français Bilingue de Londres, which teaches the French curriculum. “We have so many French buyers, They are coming over from Paris in their droves. They seem really disillusioned with President François Hollande and they love London.”