SPOT­LIGHT ON SIDCUP

Find a home you can af­ford and be sure of a seat on the train in the morn­ing rush. Work’s only half an hour away, says Anthea Masey

Evening Standard - West End Final Extra - ES Homes and Property - - Front Page -

YOUNG Lon­don­ers are in­creas­ingly at­tracted to Sidcup by its first- time buyer-friendly house prices and the quick com­mute to the cen­tre of the cap­i­tal — with that rare op­por­tu­nity of se­cur­ing a seat on the train dur­ing the morn­ing rush hour. Fam­i­lies seek­ing good schools are keen, too, as are down­siz­ers.

Change is com­ing to this quiet south­east Lon­don sub­urb. Over the last five years, it has gained two new pock­et­friendly ho­tels — a Trav­elodge and a Premier Inn — while these days there’s also a branch of Lit­tle Waitrose and new ac­com­mo­da­tion for Rose Bru­ford Col­lege, the drama school that counts Os­car-nom­i­nated Gary Old­man among its for­mer stu­dents.

The Fold, a £20 mil­lion cop­per-clad mixed-use scheme by Stu­dio Egret West next to the sta­tion, looks rather like the in­side of a posh box of choco­lates and though it launched to mixed re­views, it is pop­u­lar with young City com­muters. Lo­cal es­tate agent Brett Northover, at Vil­lage Es­tates, says: “I re­cently sold a two- bed­room flat in The Fold for £335,000 — there were four of­fers and it went for above the ask­ing price.”

The lo­cal shops are around the sta­tion in Sta­tion Road and also half a mile away in the town cen­tre, which has re­cently ben­e­fited from a £1.8 mil­lion face lift. Sidcup and nearby Foots Cray were once home to wealthy Lon­don fam­i­lies who built large coun­try houses, some of which sur­vive to this day. One of the most his­toric is Frog­nal House, once home to the Whig politi­cian Thomas Town­shend, lst Vis­count Syd­ney (1733-1800), who gave his name to Syd­ney in Nova Sco­tia in Canada and Syd­ney in Aus­tralia. Frog­nal was used as a First World War hos­pi­tal, where the pi­o­neer­ing plas­tic sur­geon Harold Gil­lies re­built the faces of in­jured soldiers from the trenches.

Rose Bru­ford Col­lege of Theatre and Per­for­mance is found at Lamor­bey House, another fine listed his­toric build­ing. The orig­i­nal 17th- cen­tury house was re­built in the 18th cen­tury and again in the 19th cen­tury, when the Ja­cobean-style ex­te­rior was added.

THE most ex­pen­sive home for sale lo­cally is another grand man­sion. Vale Mas­cal in North Cray Road, an 18th­cen­tury seven- bed­room house with a sep­a­rate cot­tage, in five acres along the River Cray, is on the mar­ket with JDM for £3.5 mil­lion. Call 020 8012 2398 for de­tails.

Sidcup is 14 miles south-east of cen­tral Lon­don with the ma­jor shop­ping cen­tre of Bex­ley­heath to the north, open Kent coun­try­side to the east, Chisle­hurst to the south and New Eltham to the west.

Build­ing a fu­ture: Sidcup High Street has had a £1.8 mil­lion makeover. Young buy­ers love the town’s af­ford­able homes

Buy a new bike — or fix up your old one: Martin Luff­man, se­nior me­chanic at Sidcup Cy­cle Cen­tre. The shop has of­fered bike sales and ser­vic­ing for 23 years

Browse awhile: co-own­ers Jane Els­den and Veron­ica Kelly at In­dian Rose, for house­hold items, fash­ion, gifts and toys

The Green: en­joyed by Sidcup since the early 1800s, when de­vel­op­ment of what was then a vil­lage be­gan to ac­cel­er­ate

Cask ales spe­cial­ist: Ben Brooks at The Hack­ney Car­riage Mi­cro Pub

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