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