Published in City A.M., Nov ’19
One might assume there is something in the water in Lewisham. Although it is a relatively unassuming corner of South East London, it has been the birthplace of a wealth of musical talent: Cream drummer Ginger Baker, Rolling Stones bassist Bill Wyman and Sex Pistols frontman Sid Vicious were all born there.
The town’s own profile has historically been much lower than that of its famous children – but now that is starting to change.
“Over the last few years, Lewisham has experienced significant redevelopment with an improved restaurant and bar scene, better facilities and new homes,”says Frances Clacy, research analyst at Savills.
This includes the opening of Model Market, a late night street food venue in a former 1950s market run by Street Feast, who also operate Dinerama in Shoreditch; and Suttons’ Radio, a trendy pub in a former radio shop run by Antic who also operate Dogstar in Brixton and the Tooting Tram & Social.
Yasmin Forester of JLL in Greenwich says Lewisham has had a surge of popularity among young renters for this reason – as well as the fact rents are much cheaper than other, similarly well-connected young professional hotspots like Clapham.
“We are seeing our highest number of registrations for applicants wanting to move into the area”, Forester says. “It offers diversity and culture and is popular with younger tenants.” These renters are starting to translate into first-time buyers, too. According to Hamptons International, 44 per cent of homes in Lewisham were bought by a first-time buyer during the last 12 months.
House prices still cheaper than London average
“Over the last few years, many young professionals have set up home in Lewisham,” adds JLL’s Graham Lawes. Typical buyers have rented in South East London before they purchase, meaning Lewisham is known to them.”
It’s an area that seems to fit the lending criteria of the bank of Mum and Dad, too.
“It has become quite normal to have a gifted 25 per cent deposit from a Blackheath resident who is helping their son or daughter to purchase in nearby Lewisham,” Lawes adds. In addition, Lewisham buyers have been helped further by the fact that house prices are still cheaper than the London average.
According to Savills, the average terraced property costs around £585,000: up to 15 per cent cheaper than comparable homes in other London boroughs. Typical stock is varied, ranging from new-build blocks of flats like Peabody’s recently-launched Lucent Point to smart red-brick houses on desirable streets like Duncrevie Road.
“For those looking to buy their first property and for others trading up the ladder, Lewisham is a pretty attractive prospect thanks to its zone 2-3 rail and DLR links as well as its well-performing schools,” says Clacy. “Higher house price values in neighbouring places like Greenwich and Blackheath have drawn people to the neighbourhood, who by moving just a few miles south are likely to get more space for their budgets.”
House prices are rising rapidly, though. In the last year they have increased by 5.4 per cent compared to 0.2 per cent across the capital, and for the last five years that figure rises to 47.4 per cent compared to 19 per cent.
The continued investment into Lewisham means prices will continue to rise, according to Lawes.
“You can see the investment into the infrastructure and the careful planning in progress. This should translate into strong capital values down the line when there is more political stability and economic certainty,” he says.