Property Hot Spot: It's looking golden around the Globe

The heart of Shakespearean theatreland is undergoing something of a cultural revival.
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The Independent Online
Southwark and Borough, South London

Montague and Capulet, Southwark and Borough. What, indeed, is in a name..? Until recently, Southwark and Borough were much of a muchness in terms of residential properties, even though Southwark borders the Thames and Borough is landlocked.

The riverside was industrial or derelict or both. Residential housing in this predominantly commercial district was limited mostly to local authority estates built on sites freed up for development by the Luftwaffe.

Southwark and Borough are neighbours within the - pay attention at the back - borough of Southwark. Borough Tube station is on Borough High Street in the heart of Borough, but Borough Market is in Southwark next to Southwark Cathedral near Southwark Street.

Naturally, Southwark station on the Jubilee Line extension is not in this immediate area but is further west, closer to Waterloo.

The Jubilee Line extension is only one of several major projects that will radically transform not only Southwark but London itself. Sir Norman Foster's Thames footbridge will ford the north-south divide, and the Tate Gallery is moving into the disused Bankside power station. Several piers are being refurbished in and near Southwark. The already reconstructed Globe Theatre will soon have a 450-foot riverside ferris wheel as a neighbour.

"Unlike the Docklands Light Railway, the Jubilee Line will take people straight to the West End," says Tom Marshall, of estate agents Cluttons Daniel Smith. "The Jubilee Line will have a massive knock-on impact on property prices."

The housing stock includes a small and secret treasure of period houses along with warehouse conversions and works in progress. "Many of the period houses are not visible from cars," explains Shannon Turton, a branch partner of Felicity J Lord estate agents. "Southwark has these wonderful old narrow roads which you find only when you walk through. Yet Southwark is stigmatised as a rough area by people from north of the river."

Bankside's new-builds and conversions include Silver Street's Town Hall Chambers, a listed edifice with the latest in hi-tech, including "intelligent" lighting and sound systems powering different music in different rooms. A Berkeley-Chelsfield joint venture, Benbow House, overlooks the Globe, and Oakmayne's Horseshoe Wharf, along with a prison museum, are located on the felicitously named Clink Street.

The Low-Down

Prices: Southwark has a few studio flats from pounds 60,000-pounds 80,000, one-bedroom flats from pounds 120,000-pounds 220,000, and two-bedrooms from pounds 185,000- pounds 600,000. Houses start at pounds 185,000 for a two-bedroom cottage, pounds 220,000 for three-bedroom period houses.

Conversions and new-builds: Town Hall Chambers has a Slug and Lettuce eatery on the ground floor. Prices from pounds 170,000-pounds 600,000. Horseshoe Wharf has 14 flats, from pounds 410,000 for two bedrooms and a balcony. Benbow House prices range between pounds 265,000 and pounds 1m.

Shopping: It will be some time before Southwark Bankside has a bona fide shopping centre, but it already has some of the city's finest restaurants, and Borough Food Market is a gourmand's paradise.

London's larder: Borough Market is London's oldest fruit and vegetable market, and the last still trading from its original site. This working market is active by night, quiet and unobtrusive by day, except for "open" days when Ethiopian Yirgacheffe coffee, Westmoreland sweet bird pies, Valrhona chocolate and Noirmoutier Fleur de Sel sea salt are sold by Saturday stallholders or regular merchants including Neal's Yard, Konditor & Cook, Guidetti, Brindisa, Coquus' Traiteur Artisanal, Mid-Devon Fallow, Gorwydd Farm, Wild Food Tamed and Petit Robert. Open days are the third Saturday of each month.

Mending the gap: On one side, St Paul's Cathedral. On the other, the Tate and the Globe Theatre. In between, the Thames. The new pounds 15.9m Millennium Bridge will be central London's first new river crossing since the 1894 opening of Tower Bridge, and its first dedicated pedestrian bridge. Main perpetrators are architect Lord Foster of Foster and Partners, sculptor Sir Anthony Caro and engineers Ove Arup. The Tate Gallery of Modern Art will display the UK's national collection of international modern and contemporary art. Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron have retained the immense turbine hall in the 1940s building. Bridge and museum open next spring.

The circle line: London's first aquatic hop-on hop-off service on the Thames takes a circular route between Butler's Wharf and Tower Bridge in the east, and London Bridge Pier in the west. Other stops are at Tower Pier, HMS Belfast, and St Katharine Docks (0171-237 5134).

Bottoms up: Vinopolis, under the arches near Borough Market, has a wine museum, tasting halls, and a pounds 10 entry fee (0870 444 4777).

Contacts: Cluttons Daniel Smith, 0171-407 3669; Felicity J Lord, 0171- 407 9440; Benbow, 0171-824 8171 or 0171-351 2383.

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