Property: Hot Spot Bromley, South London - Where worlds collide

Because it's there, and also because Bromley is enviably balanced between city and country, a mountain of a nine-storey office building is being converted into luxury flats by Alfred McAlpine Homes. Berkeley is converting two other brownfield sites in the Kentish suburb of London.

Hundreds of towns offer the best of urban and rural worlds around London, but Bromley and only a handful of others are blessed with a frequent, fast train service. With Victoria Station only a quarter of an hour away, Bromley is effectively nearer central London than many towns which are considerably closer geographically.

"We've been targeting Bromley for some time," says McAlpine regional director John Cudd. "It has attracted top-quality businesses and it is aided by excellent commuter links, good shopping, restaurants and leisure facilities. Regenerating these properties is better than letting them decay."

Patience and diligence reward the Bromley property-hunter. Developed mostly in the 1930s, Bromley offers some period properties amid a huge and diverse array of newer flats, both purpose-built and conversions, and houses. In an area noted for its greenery, garden size can be highly variable. As for flats, some have balconies, car parking and leisure facilities.

The town itself has two rail stations, Bromley South and Bromley North. In addition, nearby neighbourhoods such as Shortlands, Beckenham, Sundridge Park and Hayes each have their own stations, but only Bromley South offers frequent peak-time fast services.

According to Fiona Salter, the press officer for the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, "flats built in the early 1970s before building regulations came into effect may have been constructed to lower standards than those built later". And lower standards mean noise even from the most quiet of neighbours.

Ms Salter, herself a Bromley resident, has also learned the hard way that the fast commute, which is ideal for those working regular hours, can be arduous for people with irregular schedules. The late-night service is less frequent and takes longer, and, if you miss the train, a cab fare can set you back pounds 50 or more. Now eyeing the property market, she feels that "if you work in central London, it makes sense to live closer to central London". She also feels that, with its identikit high-street shops, "Bromley might prove to be stultifying for more sophisticated urbanites."

But Richard Haines, of Curtis Haines estate agents, notes that "due to Bromley's proximity to London and its good schools, it is much sought after by corporate tenants who are working in the UK for two or three years. Detached properties and other good housing stock and good locations provide high-quality rentals, typically pounds 1,500-pounds 2,000 every calendar month".

Bromley buyers name names. Liza Daniels, of Daniels Property Services, says that families want to be near particular schools, especially Bullers Wood, a grant-maintained secondary , and Scotts Park primary. Mr Haines reports keen interest in Newstead Woods and St Olave's in Orpington.

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