HOMES NEAR TOP SCHOOLS

From Hamp­stead to Hack­ney, fam­i­lies seek­ing homes near top-per­form­ing schools have a wide choice over £750k. By Ruth Bloom­field

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

PAR­ENTS across Eng­land pay an av­er­age pre­mium of 45 per cent to live within strik­ing dis­tance of a top-per­form­ing state school, ac­cord­ing to a re­cent study by Lloyds Bank.

In Lon­don, the crav­ing for high-standard ed­u­ca­tion com­bined with for­mi­da­ble house prices can amount to a pre­mium run­ning to hun­dreds of thou­sands of pounds. Yet for par­ents with a bud­get of be­tween £750,000 and about £1 mil­lion — not as­tro­nom­i­cal sums in the grand scheme of Lon­don prop­erty — the choices are, if not end­less, then at least pos­i­tive.

An anal­y­sis of the av­er­age price of a typ­i­cal three-bed­room ter­race house close to schools scor­ing the best A-level grades within their bor­ough has un­earthed op­tions from leafy Lon­don vil­lages to af­flu­ent river­side en­claves and hip cen­tral Lon­don lo­ca­tions, all within this price bracket.

HAMP­STEAD

In north Lon­don, the name Hen­ri­etta Bar­nett is whis­pered with al­most re­li­gious rev­er­ence by the par­ents of bright girls. The Hen­ri­etta Bar­nett School in Hamp­stead Gar­den Sub­urb achieves some of the best exam re­sults of any school, state or pri­vate, in Bri­tain. En­try is se­lec­tive and fiercely com­pet­i­tive.

The sub­urb it­self was built north of Hamp­stead Heath at the start of the last cen­tury, and is an early ex­am­ple of a model sub­urb with cot­tage- style houses built in leafy streets and squares. Al­though orig­i­nally in­tended for av­er­age work­ing fam­i­lies, one of these three-bed­room cot­tages would to­day cost be­tween £950,000 and £1 mil­lion, ac­cord­ing to Cobi Aboody, as­so­ciate direc­tor of Gold­schmidt and How­land es­tate agents, while a fourbed­room house would cost about £1.2 mil­lion.

In­com­ers to the area tend to be young fam­i­lies trad­ing up from flats in more ex­pen­sive neigh­bour­ing dis­tricts, in­clud­ing Hamp­stead it­self. Aboody says the school is a par­tic­u­lar draw, as well as the very pretty streets and prox­im­ity to Hamp­stead Heath.

The sub­urb is well equipped with chichi bou­tiques, cafés and a plen­ti­ful range of shops, al­though in the evening the most ex­cite­ment you will find is din­ner at one of its neigh­bour­hood restau­rants.

A flaw of the area is its lack of a Tube sta­tion. Gold­ers Green, in Zone 3, is the clos­est op­tion, but re­quires a bus trip or brisk 15-minute walk. And those who opt to bus it will find that, par­tic­u­larly in the evening rush hour, traf­fic along the Finch­ley Road can be hor­ri­fy­ing.

Over the last cou­ple of years, says Aboody, homes in the sub­urb priced at £2 mil­lion and above have fallen in value by about 10 per cent — stamp duty hikes hav­ing taken the froth off the top end of the mar­ket. How­ever, those be­low £2 mil­lion have re­mained fairly sta­ble.

LAM­BETH, VAUX­HALL AND KEN­NING­TON

Buy­ers look­ing for a more ur­ban life­style could look at the hin­ter­land of the King’s Col­lege Lon­don Mathematics School in Lam­beth, an ex­tremely high­achiev­ing spe­cial­ist school close to the Im­pe­rial War Mu­seum.

Prop­erty within the tri­an­gle be­tween Lam­beth, Vaux­hall and Ken­ning­ton is “fan­tas­ti­cally var­ied” ac­cord­ing to Johnny Male, sales direc­tor at Daniel Cobb es­tate agents, with streets of Ge­or­gian town­houses, cot­tages built by the Duchy of Corn­wall at the turn of the last cen­tury, blingy new flats on the Al­bert Em­bank­ment and some re­ally dire post-war so­cial hous­ing, too. Prices are steep. Male es­ti­mates that one of those cot­tages, with two or three bed­rooms, would cost be­tween £850,000 and £1.1 mil­lion de­pend­ing on size and con­di­tion, while a lovely Ge­or­gian town­house with four bed­rooms would be £ 1.7 mil­lion- plus. How­ever, he points out, these val­ues are low com­pared to other sim­i­larly cen­tral lo­ca­tions. None­the­less, buy­ers are typ­i­cally an af­flu­ent bunch. Male has sold homes to doc­tors work­ing at nearby hos­pi­tals. City types like its great train links — it’s on the borders of Zones 1 and 2 — while “hedge fund folk” can eas­ily get to their West End of­fices. And of course, over­seas buy­ers dom­i­nate sales of the top-end new flats.

In terms of lo­ca­tion this is an area hard to beat. West­min­ster and Vic­to­ria are just over the river, the South­bank is a stroll down the Thames, and rapidly re­gen­er­at­ing Ele­phant & Cas­tle is up the road.

Prices aside, the only flaw Male can see is the area’s lack of retail op­por­tu­nity. “We have some very nice bars and cafés, the new Damien Hirst gallery on New­port Street, but there is not much in the way of shops,” he says.

HACK­NEY DOWNS

On the fringes of Hack­ney Downs there are two out­per­form­ing sec­ondary schools within a quar­ter of a mile of

each other: Moss­bourne Com­mu­nity Academy, which is in E5, and The

Petchey Academy, over the post­code bor­der and into E8. This neigh­bour­hood is one of late-Vic­to­rian houses and Say­lan Lu­cas, branch man­ager of Winkworth es­tate agents, es­ti­mates that a three-bed­room prop­erty would cost about £800,000 to £900,000. Those that have been ex­tended into the side re­turn to en­large the kitchen, and with an ex­tra bed­room in the loft, sell at about £1.1 mil­lion.

Buy­ers here tend to be thir­tysome­things who have built up some eq­uity on flats in slightly more ex­pen­sive neigh­bour­ing lo­ca­tions such as Is­ling­ton, High­bury or Stoke New­ing­ton, and most ei­ther have young chil­dren or hope to start a fam­ily.

Schools aside, this Zone 2 area has plenty of ben­e­fits: fast train links to the West End and City, the green ex­panses of Hack­ney Downs and plenty of bars and restau­rants, both lo­cally and in neigh­bour­ing Dal­ston and Clap­ton.

The other pos­i­tive fac­tor, says Lu­cas, is that Hack­ney Downs has char­ac­ter. “What peo­ple like is that it has had some of the ben­e­fits of gen­tri­fi­ca­tion, but it has not lost its soul,” he adds. “Is­ling­ton and High­bury have gone a lit­tle bit vanilla, but Hack­ney re­mains pretty grounded.”

£1.2 mil­lion: three-bed­room house in Thornby Road near Moss­bourne Com­mu­nity Academy, right, in Hack­ney E5. For sale through Stir­ling Ack­royd (020 8012 1616)

£750,000: in Ad­ley Street, Hack­ney, close to good schools, a three-bed­room house with po­ten­tial for a loft con­ver­sion. For sale through Humphrey & Co (020 8012 3070)

£875,000: a three-bedoom ter­race house, above left, in Birch­wood Road, SW17, near highly rated Graveney School, above right, in Toot­ing. Marsh & Par­sons (020 8012 6337)

Record of ex­cel­lence: Moss­bourne Com­mu­nity Academy near Hack­ney Downs is a big draw for fam­i­lies

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