Hot Spot Surrey Quays, South London
Some areas are born to be gentrified, others have it thrust upon them, and still others change their name to hasten the process. In its time, Surrey Quays (ne Surrey Docks) witnessed the arrivals of whales and timber from Greenland and Scandinavia. More recently, with Docklands' regeneration, it has witnessed the arrival of hordes of polenta eaters.

In tube-free south London, Surrey Quays has the East London line which, recently refurbished, is a vast improvement on its former tatty, unreliable incarnation. When the Jubilee Line extension is up and running, the Canada Waters station will link Surrey Quays with Waterloo and Canary Wharf.

As Andrew Colley, of Alex Neil estate agents, recalls: "In 1990, Surrey Quays was not very developed, many sites were vacant, and the council estates were rougher than now. After the recession, developers built on the sites, and the council has pumped an enormous amount of money [into the area], making their council stock nicer and safer. Council flats provide excellent rental yields." Developers have also pumped a lot of dough into waterfront apartment blocks.

Grant Paterson, who handles lettings for Alex Neil, notes that, contrary to simple supply and demand, rents are still healthy: "Some owners have already moved out of the area, but don't want to sell until the Jubilee Line is operating. So rentals are in large supply, but rents are still high and the rental trend is still upward because of other amenities in the area." These include a large shopping centre, a new multi-screen cinema and bowling alley, and appealing pubs.

Surrey Quays is convenient for work, is quiet, and has plenty of parking, notes Mr Colley. "Considering its proximity to the City and Canary Wharf, prices should be double what they are. Many professionals send their children to private schools in Blackheath and Greenwich, although local schools are pretty good."

On the minus side, the area "lacks an infrastructure of restaurants, high-street shops like Marks and Spencer, and quality clothes and furniture shops," he says.

Change, when it comes, may arrive with pent-up ferocity: "Many properties are owned by people who bought three or four years ago, intending to sell when the Jubilee Line opened," says Mr Colley. "When that happens, we expect to be flooded. At the moment, plenty of properties are available. It is a proper stable market."

The Low-down

Prices: One- and two-bedroom ex-council flats are priced between pounds 40,000 and pounds 65,000. Depending on condition and location, two- and three- bedroom houses can cost as little as pounds 110,000, or twice that amount. Recently- built three-bedroom terraces with conservatory sell for pounds 150,000; Nineties' three-bedroom waterfront townhouses are selling for pounds 230,000.

Council Tax: Band A is pounds 524 and Band H is pounds 1,573 in Southwark, one of London's dearer boroughs.

Transport: Buses go directly to London Bridge, Waterloo or the City, and the refurbished East London Line provides fast links with the Docklands Light Railway at Shadwell, and the District Line and Hammersmith & City Line at Whitechapel. Rotherhithe Tunnel, a river taxi, and the Jubilee Line extension are icing on the cake.

Jock Dock: Greenland Dock Watersports Centre has sailing, windsurfing, canoeing, and powerboating.

Good News for Some: The New Millwall Den, the football club's home ground, is near Surrey Quays. Holiday Inn Health Centre has a sauna, jacuzzi, sun beds, leisure pool - and a waiting list. Also in the area is Bacon's City Technical College.

Kids, Goats and Mutton: Surrey Docks Play Association caters for under- fives during term time, five to 16-year-olds during school holidays. Surrey Docks City Farm has ducks, geese, and the usual assortment of friendly, furry and feathery creatures, including milking goats, and no admission charge. Stave Hill Ecological Park is near the river.

Agents: Alex Neil (0171-231 8800); Burnet Ware & Graves (0171-232 0333).