Howzat!

£50m re­vamp of the Oval puts Zone 2 in the spotlight

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

TRANS­FOR­MA­TION of the Kia Oval ground, the home of Sur­rey County Cricket Club, her­alds a new era for this over­looked Zone 2 area. There are plans to cre­ate a new neigh­bour­hood around the land­mark south Lon­don sta­dium, turn­ing it into a “mod­ern-day Coli­seum” with new shops and restau­rants along its perime­ter, while the sta­dium it­self will be opened up with ar­chi­tec­ture that will em­brace the com­mu­nity and spur on widescale re­gen­er­a­tion in the sur­round­ing area.

The cricket club and the landowner, the Duchy of Corn­wall, pro­pose a £50 mil­lion scheme to re­build two spec­ta­tor stands, boost­ing ca­pac­ity by 8,000 and mak­ing it the largest ded­i­cated cricket ground out­side In­dia and Aus­tralia. The scheme will open up street­fac­ing ar­eas be­neath the stands, cre­at­ing space for shops, restau­rants and local busi­nesses. One of Prince Charles’s favoured ar­chi­tects, Hugh Pet­ter of ADAM Ar­chi­tec­ture, has been ap­pointed to draw up the scheme and the aim is for work to fin­ish in 2023.

The num­ber of cricket sup­port­ers emerg­ing from the Tube sta­tion — marked out by their red chi­nos and Panama hats — has in­creased in re­cent years and match day sales have risen to an un­prece­dented de­gree. The club has built up a data­base of 282,000 fans, and the best part of 500,000 are ex­pected to visit the Oval this year.

The new in­ter­est is bring­ing extra fo­cus in the area. “Aes­thet­i­cally, things al­ready started to im­prove when the same firm of ar­chi­tects re­designed the

main en­trance of the sta­dium in 2013,” says Johnny Male of local es­tate agents Daniel Cobb. “Prior to that, there was an ugly Six­ties de­sign but this work re­ally served to raise the pro­file of the sta­dium and cre­ate some­thing ar­chi­tec­turally at­trac­tive in Oval.”

The Oval, which staged Eng­land’s first in­ter­na­tional Test match in 1880, has suf­fered from a slight iden­tity cri­sis be­yond cricket. Sand­wiched be­tween Vaux­hall with its shiny river­side flats, Stock­well — home to early 19th-cen­tury Re­gency fam­ily-friendly houses — and Ken­ning­ton, with its prox­im­ity to Water­loo, Oval’s streets lack def­i­ni­tion and their own post­code, tee­ter­ing be­tween SE11, SW9 and SW8.

FIRST-TIME BUYER AP­PEAL

Partly as a re­sult, prop­erty prices have his­tor­i­cally been more af­ford­able, de­spite Oval’s cen­tral Lon­don lo­ca­tion. Hous­ing stock is dom­i­nated by the four­storey, red-brick Vic­to­rian ex-coun­cil build­ings clus­tered around the sta­dium, some large es­tates and the oc­ca­sional pocket of pretty pe­riod ter­races.

“The di­verse hous­ing stock ap­peals to first-time-buy­ers,” says Gra­ham Walker of Dex­ters. “House prices in Oval are slightly cheaper than nearby Vaux­hall or Ken­ning­ton.” But this gap in value has been eroded in re­cent years, adds Johnny Male. Lat­est fig­ures from Right­move put the over­all av­er­age price for Oval at £521,499, which is sim­i­lar to Stock­well but cheaper than Vaux­hall and Ken­ning­ton. “We see par­ents in­vest­ing here, buy­ing homes for their chil­dren who might be study­ing nearby at King’s Col­lege or Lon­don South Bank Univer­sity,” says Wil­liam Pasquali of Hamp­tons. “You get more for your money in Oval, es­pe­cially when com­pared with Vaux­hall and Clapham which of­fer sim­i­lar trans­port links.”

A typ­i­cal first-time buy still in­volves a hefty in­vest­ment: Daniel Cobb just had an of­fer ac­cepted on an at­trac­tive onebed­room flat in Clay­ton Street, a few min­utes’ from the Tube, for £415,000.

An­other rea­son lo­cals cite for Oval’s lack of a strong iden­tity is the ab­sence of a sig­nif­i­cant high street. There are short pa­rades of func­tional but largely un­re­mark­able shops split be­tween Clapham Road and Brix­ton Road. Oval also marks the con­flu­ence of three busy, noisy roads.

But look closer and Oval ticks a lot of buyer boxes. It’s just nine min­utes to Bank sta­tion on the North­ern line, so it’s pop­u­lar with City work­ers. The new cy­cle su­per­high­ways criss­cross the area. “It’s like a mo­tor­way for com­muter cy­clists in the morn­ing,” says one res­i­dent. Grade II-listed Ken­ning­ton Park, one of cen­tral Lon­don’s un­spo­ken de­lights, is on the doorstep and has gone from strength to strength thanks to the com­mu­nity ef­fort of nearby res­i­dents.

Ash­mole and Henry Fawcett Pri­mary Schools are both Of­sted “out­stand­ing”. A suc­cess­ful weekly farm­ers’ mar­ket clus­ters around hand­some St Mark’s Church. There’s the Oval­house Theatre, the off-West End venue built in the Six­ties that spawned the ca­reers of Pierce Bros­nan and Steven Berkoff. A café so­ci­ety has yet to emerge but re­work­ing the sta­dium could help, says ADAM Ar­chi­tec­ture’s Hugh Pet­ter, whose de­sign in­volves tak­ing down the solid sta­dium perime­ter wall. “It’s not just about cre­at­ing a top-notch sports fa­cil­ity but also about in­tro­duc­ing com­mu­nity ben­e­fits. By re­mov­ing the wall and open­ing up spa­ces un­der­neath the stands for shops and busi­nesses, the aim is to im­prove the sur­round­ing streets and cre­ate a more dy­namic environment for Oval over­all.”

An­other ma­jor sign of change looms in the im­mi­nent re­de­vel­op­ment of the iconic gas hold­ers just north of the sta­dium. Decom­mis­sioned in 2014, one of the gas hold­ers, with its dis­tinc­tive iron fret­work, is now Grade II listed. House­builder Berke­ley has an op­tion on the 12-acre site and has put for­ward a re­de­vel­op­ment master­plan with Lam­beth coun­cil to in­clude two tow­ers of 13 storeys, homes built within the main 14storey gas holder and other six- to 11-storey build­ings. But a sur­vey by local pres­sure group Cre­ate Streets found many peo­ple want to en­sure the de­vel­op­ment re­flects “Ken­ning­ton and not Vaux­hall” in style and scale, with fewer glass tow­ers and de­signs more sym­pa­thetic to the area and fam­i­lies.

Cre­ate Streets has an al­ter­na­tive plan, Lit­tle Oval, which pro­vides a sim­i­lar num­ber of homes — 1,187 ver­sus 1,250 — keeps two gas hold­ers as pub­lic spa­ces and re­flects local ar­chi­tec­ture with de­tails such as iron bal­conies, as a nod to the gas hold­ers and to iron­work at nearby Courte­nay Square. “It’s about cre­at­ing a unique new neigh­bour­hood, not a ghetto of wealth,” ar­gues Ni­cholas Boys Smith of Cre­ate Streets.

POCK­ETS of other smaller new de­vel­op­ment are grow­ing up around Oval, in­clud­ing Paragon Mews in SW8, which has been de­vel­oped on the site of long-re­dun­dant garages that were used by the Met­ro­pol­i­tan Po­lice Spe­cial Branch. The eight houses with three to four bed­rooms are priced from £ 825,000 to £ 1.5 mil­lion. Through Hamp­tons on 020 3451 1544 or Daniel Cobb on 020 7735 9510.

Pickle Mews is an­other new-build scheme, with three-bed­room houses set on a pri­vate gated site mo­ments from Oval Tube sta­tion, for £1.4 mil­lion, avail­able through Dex­ters.

Mean­while, the post­card-pretty Ge­or­gian Hanover Gar­dens, just a minute’s walk from the Tube, is the pre­mier ad­dress in Oval, and among the most ex­pen­sive. Kin­leigh Folkard & Hay­ward has a two-bed­room, split-level flat on the mar­ket for £700,000.

Hand­some: St Mark’s Church, scene of Oval’s pop­u­lar weekly farm­ers’ mar­ket

Right: how the “mod­ern day Coli­seum” is en­vis­aged un­der ADAM Ar­chi­tec­ture’s plan, open­ing up the Kia Oval ground to in­clude street-fac­ing shops, eateries and busi­nesses

Master­plan: Berke­ley Homes and Lam­beth coun­cil pro­pose 1,250 homes on a 12-acre site cen­tred on his­toric gash­old­ers

From £825,000 to £1.5 mil­lion: three- and four-bed­room houses at Paragon Mews, SW8. Daniel Cobb (020 7735 9510)

£489,950: left, in Clapham Road, Oval, SW9, a three-bed­room first-floor flat, handy for Oval and Stock­well Tube. Dex­ters (020 7650 5102) Right: Tube links are good, with Ken­ning­ton, Oval and Stock­well sta­tions handy

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