Cities can be lonely places. Ruth Bloom­field dis­cov­ers parts of the cap­i­tal where res­i­dents are cre­at­ing warm and friendly com­mu­ni­ties

London Evening Standard (West End Final B) - ES Homes and Property - - Front Page -

WITH a de­ter­mined avoid­ance of eye con­tact on its streets and a ten­dency to hide be­hind news­pa­pers and smart­phones on the Tube, Lon­don’s rep­u­ta­tion for warmth is not great. Once Lon­don­ers get home from work, how­ever, the story can change. There are pock­ets of the cap­i­tal where com­mu­ni­ties thrive, with of­fers to help the el­derly with their gar­dens, and vol­un­teer­ing at a lo­cal food bank or on a neigh­bour­hood news­pa­per. Here is our pick of the ar­eas that are known for com­mu­nity spirit.


What’s go­ing on? My­d­dle­ton Road is named af­ter 17th-cen­tury engi­neer Sir Hugh My­d­del­ton who brought fresh drink­ing wa­ter into Lon­don on the New River: a very com­mu­nity– minded man, and to­day’s res­i­dents fol­low his lead.

My­d­dle­ton Road was dy­ing on its feet un­til 2013, when a group of lo­cals in this north Lon­don neigh­bour­hood set up a street mar­ket to breathe life into their high street.

Street fes­ti­vals with live mu­sic fol­lowed, while other vol­un­teers run a com­mu­nity gar­den on a strip of waste­ground, with reg­u­lar week­end gar­den­ing ses­sions. Res­i­dents have set up draw­ing clubs, walk­ing groups, and a com­mu­nity choir.

Deb­bie Oliver of Ho­barts es­tate agents says: “There is a re­ally tight com­mu­nity at­mos­phere there.” Any other spe­cial rea­son to live there? Bounds Green Ju­nior School is rated “good” by Of­sted and St Thomas More Catholic School, for se­nior pupils, is “out­stand­ing”. You’ll also get more home for your money than in ad­ja­cent Alexan­dra Palace or Crouch End.

Trans­port: Bounds Green Tube is on the Pic­cadilly line. Trains from Bowes Park reach Moor­gate in 24 min­utes.

And the down­sides? Prox­im­ity to the North Cir­cu­lar Road turns lo­cal streets into rat-runs and pubs pro­vide the only nightlife.

House prices: a two-bed­room house costs about £550,000, with three­bed­room homes for about £725,000. Deb­bie Oliver says larger houses are rare but of­ten need ren­o­va­tion when they do come up.


What’s go­ing on? Peck­ham is chang­ing. You only have to wan­der down Rye Lane, the scent of ar­ti­sanal cof­fee in the air, to know that. But the re­birth of this out­post of south-east Lon­don as hip­ster HQ ap­pears to have hap­pened or­gan­i­cally rather than to a mas­ter­plan drawn up by town plan­ners.

When a cou­ple of lo­cal res­i­dents launched a cam­paign to re­open the long-de­funct Peck­ham Lido, more than 1,000 peo­ple raised £60,000 through a crowd­fund­ing scheme. The Peck­ham Coal Line, a lin­ear park run­ning on dis­used coal sid­ings be­tween Rye Lane and Queens Road Peck­ham, was also put for­ward by a group of res­i­dents, and Friends of the Peck­ham Coal Line is now a reg­is­tered char­ity con­sult­ing lo­cals about how the over­head park should be de­signed.

Peo­ple liv­ing near Bel­len­den Road are or­gan­is­ing a sum­mer street party next month, and Denman Road reg­u­larly closes to traf­fic so kids can play out­side. There are com­mu­nity groups, in­clud­ing Peck­ham Vi­sion, set up to make sure lo­cals have a say in the re­gen­er­a­tion of their area — the group is cur­rently fight­ing plans to re­de­velop the beloved Peck­ham­plex cinema; Friends of Peck­ham Rye Park run a tra­di­tional sum­mer fête with a dog show, and the Peck­ham Pe­cu­liar is a free lo­cal news­pa­per. Any other spe­cial rea­son to live there? For the bril­liant range of in­de­pen­dent cafés, bars and restau­rants, plus a some­thing-for-

ev­ery­one vibe, with posh Bel­len­den Road, still-gritty Rye Lane, the bril­liant Bussey Build­ing for arts and gigs, and lovely Peck­ham Rye Park.

Trans­port: trains from Peck­ham Rye take 20 min­utes or less to Vic­to­ria, Lon­don Bridge, or Black­fri­ars. Ser­vices from Queens Road Peck­ham to Lon­don Bridge take from 11 min­utes, and reach Black­fri­ars and Vic­to­ria in less than 25 min­utes.

And the down­sides? It’s ex­pen­sive to buy in Peck­ham and as de­vel­op­ers move in, they threaten to erad­i­cate some of its unique char­ac­ter.

House prices: the cheap­est way to buy into Peck­ham is with an ex-lo­cal au­thor­ity flat — a two-bed­room home would cost £250,000 to £300,000.

A one-bed­room pur­pose-built or pe­riod con­ver­sion flat would be £330,000 to £350,000. A three­bed­room pe­riod ter­race house costs from about £650,000, but you will need to pay £1 mil­lion-plus for one of the large, lovely Vic­to­rian piles in the streets off Bel­len­den Road.

Cat­a­lyst for change: My­d­dle­ton Road Mar­ket, started by lo­cals, breathed life into Bowes Park’s shop­ping scene and scooped a Great Bri­tish Mar­kets Award

£650,000: a three-bed­room Vic­to­rian house — a doer-up­per — in Ast­bury Rd, Peck­ham. Call Acorn (020 8012 2626)

£569,950: a two-bed­room ter­race house in Eleanor Road, N11, close to Bowes Park. Ho­barts (020 8012 3511)

A Dog’s Pur­pose must be on: Rooftop Cinema Club at Peck­ham’s Bussey Build­ing arts and en­ter­tain­ment venue

So cool: Peck­ham multi-storey car park, re­born with Frank’s Café on the roof

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