What makes you happy?
Richmond has it all, while Bromley is bursting with good news. The latest Happy at Home survey from Rightmove finds the most contented London boroughs. Noella Pio Kivlehan reports
RICHMOND UPON THAMES has for the third year running been crowned London’s happiest place to live. But in a surprise move, Hackney in northeast London comes out of the shade and into the sunny uplands as this year’s number four. And while Richmond and Hackney residents have been enjoying their feel-good factor, it appears other boroughs have not been giving their residents nearly as much love as they’ve been used to.
Kingston upon Thames was ousted from the number two spot, held since the first Rightmove borough survey in 2015. It plummeted 20 places to a lowly 22, joining number 23 on the list, Havering, which was in the top five in 2015, and still in the top 10 last year. Bottom of the list was Brent in northwest London.
In the new Rightmove top five for 2017, Bromley is number two followed by Camden, Hackney, and Waltham Forest.
The winning borough, Richmond, is rich of course and it always helps in the happiness stakes to have well-heeled residents. However, the survey also finds people like their borough to posses a sense of place, to enjoy a good stream of new investment, and offer enough affordable homes to give young people a chance to buy a place of their own.
Rightmove’s research manager Abiola Oni and her team quizzed 17,000 people to find the UK’s happiest places, and says: “The connection between the 12 factors and the overall happiness levels actually suggests that money is less important than feeling you fit in with the other people in an area.” Oni adds that living in a neighbourhood with a lot of well-designed regeneration and a variety of leisure-time activities on the doorstep plays a part in people’s overall contentment levels.
In Bromley, regeneration has been rapid since the council launched its town centre area action plan in 2011. The £94 million regeneration of St Mark’s Square — a publicprivate development involving the council and U+I — will deliver a multiplex cinema, restaurants, a 130-bed Premier Inn hotel, and 200 private and affordable apartments, with a two-bedroom flat costing £515,000. The scheme is due for completion next spring. Visit uandiplc.com/portfolio/stmarks-square-bromley for more.
In Camden, where average property prices sit at an eyewatering £1,071,316, residents felt safest and were happy with local attractions such as its famous markets, shops, restaurants and music venues that attract more than 150,000 people a week. The town is also undergoing various regeneration projects. One of these is Camden Lock Village, a project being delivered by Mace, which will feature eight new buildings of between three and nine storeys with 195 homes, a food quarter, a canalside market, cafés and restaurants. Visit macegroup.com/projects/camden-lock-village for details.
Hackney, ranked at number 22 in 2015, has thrown off its historic down-at-heel image to rise to fourth place in the Rightmove chart. It is now a mecca for hi-tech businesses clustered around Shoreditch, particularly at Old Street Roundabout, while Hoxton has become a hotspot for restaurants and bars. “Hackney house prices have been rising a lot faster than other boroughs over the past year — average prices are £669,519 — so it’s likely that investment in areas around the Hackney borough has added to how happy people are feeling,” says Oni. Residents surveyed rated Hackney top for sports and recreational activities, opportunities to develop skills, and art and cultural activities.
As part of ongoing development plans in fifth-placed Waltham Forest, the council aims to build 12,000 homes by