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Zone 2: Good-Value Homes close to Central London

Wed 17 Sep 2014

The Zone 2 Guide to good-value homes close to Central London

Even in expensive areas there are city pockets worth researching, says Ruth Bloomfield.

Where do you find the best value for money if you work in Central London and don't want to commute too far to get home? A new study of every council ward in Travel Zone 2 revels pockets of value, even in the most expensive areas.

Start your search at the market's Top End

The most expensive Zone 2 options are to be found in an elite cluster of urban villages, all of which would pass the coffee shop, independent deli and organic butcher tests, say researchers Savills.

Hampstead leaves the field with an average house price of 1.65million, up 32% in the last five years. Frognal and Fitzjohns ward, south-west of Hampstead Village, commands an average of 1.36million, up 22%.

However, Camden Town and Primrose Hill ward, on 1.15million, has outperformed, up 75% in the same period. Simon Edwards, director at Savills, says Hampstead is seen as settled in its ways, while Primrose Hill is newly fashionable, with a batch of great gastropubs, boutiques and celebrity residents. He fears that planned High Speed 2 rail link could blight some areas but for now, buyers are paying 800,000 to 900,000 for a two-bedroom flat or 3.5million to 4million for a four-bedroom terrace house.

The most economical part of the ward is the western, Camden Town side. "It hasn't got the cachet of Primrose Hill, and it's more congested and noisy," says Edwards. Two-bedroom flats there cost about 650,000-700,000. The Government's recent decision to drop plans for a rail link from King's Cross to Euston, which would have caused years of disruption in Camden Town, may encourage buyers in and boost prices.

The Town ward in the west, covering parts of Parsons Green and Fulham, has an average cost of 1.05million price, up 83% in five years largely thanks to buyers priced out of Chelsea and Knightsbridge and tempted by some attractive new builds, especially by the river.

Bargain Basement

Homes in Lea Bridge in Waltham Forest, average price 229,978, up 10% in five years, and Canning Town North - average 226,044, up 14% - less than a quarter of the cost of those in Primrose hill and Fulham, are just as well connected in Central London.

Price growth in these lower-value areas is far weaker than in their more affluent counterparts. Indeed, prices in Plaistow South, and Green Street East and West, both in Newham, have fallen a percentage point or two in five years, still struggling out of recession.

The least expensive areas are concentrated in east London, and so far they have not been adopted by middle-class "pioneers" priced out of the more expensive villages. They lack the period housing, good schools, and burgeoning cafe culture that tend to lead on to gentrification. A possible exception is New Cross, the best-performing of the bargain wards, with prices up 11% to an average 217,499. Jason Davis, sales manager at Kinleigh Folkard & Hayward, says the reason is the arrival of the East London line and the overspill of buyers priced out of Greenwich and Blackheath.

David believes that the best areas to look are in and off Lewisham Way, where two-bedroom flats in Victorian houses cost between 250,000 and 300,000, and three-bedroom houses are priced 500,000 to 600,000.

Buyers are starting to request New Cross, says Davis, who suspects they harbour hopes that it will "do a Peckham" and begin a rapid process of gentrification. On this basis, he anticipates that price rises of 10 to 15 percent in the next 18 months are not out of the question.

Best of Both Worlds

Buyers searching for affordability and evidence of a price recovery should head for Hammersmith Broadway ward, which includes highly desirable Brackenbury Village and Brook Green. With an average price of 795,803 it does not make it into the most expensive prime peripheries, but it has enjoyed price growth of 64 percent in five years.

Justin Holder, sales director at Marsh & Parsons, says growth is down to good transport links, great schools - parents fight for Brackenbury and John Betts primary schools in particular - quality period family homes in real neighbourhools, "and people being priced out of Kensington, Holland Park & Notting Hill." Two-bedroom flats sell for 650,000-850,000, while a five or six-bedroom terrace house costts 2million to 2.5million. Shops in King Street and Shepherd's Bush Road are improving, restaurants are changing and Westfield is nearby.

In north London, Cantelowes, which covers parts of Camden Town and Kentish Town, has an average 640,758 price, with growth of 61% in fice years. Savills' Simon Edwards says education, notably Camden School for Girls, is a draw. "A lot of people move to this area becuase they want to get their girls in." Cantelowes will benefit from the opening of College Francais Bilingue de Londres, which teaches the French curriculum. "We have so many French buyers, they are coming over from Paris in their droves. They seem really disillusioned with President Francois Hollande and they love London."

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