More For Your Money: Battersea, SW11

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The Shaftesbury Estate is moving up in the world, and not only in nomenclature. Sandwiched between pricey Battersea Park to the north, and Clapham and Wandsworth Commons to the south, the numerous period cottages of this estate occupy an area that, in the Middle Ages, was known as Pig Hill for its many piggeries. In a later, vegetarian phase, it became Poupart's Market Garden.

In the 1870s, it went residential when the Artisans, Labourers and General Dwelling Company housing co-operative built several thousand small Victorian homes on it and, by design, not a single pub. The Peabody Trust owns most of the estate, but many homes are already privately owned, and the number keeps rising as the Trust gradually releases more units for sale.

Valerie Lindo traded leafy Wimbledon for this decidedly urban area. "I did a lot of research looking for a property that was centrally located and affordable, and the Shaftesbury Estate is excellent value for money. It is near Clapham Junction and is only 10 minutes from Victoria station. You can take your pick of restaurants, the local pubs are good, and Battersea is an oasis with beautiful tree-lined roads."

Although the estate borders several council blocks and has had its own share of social problems, Lindo feels that "it is safe to walk around at night. There is an eclectic mix. Some of the elderly have been here since the end of the war. There are also many families and young professionals, and everyone gets along."

A serial buyer and renovator of homes, Lindo added value the hard way: "I bought a complete wreck. It was a Peabody Trust property, and my neighbours told me that the previous tenant stripped it and that it had been empty for a long time." Her renovation work now complete, she is selling the house.

Although the estate houses are small, Lindo says that they might appeal to young couples thinking of starting a family: "The local council is very good with planning permissions," she says. "If you have a growing family, you can extend the property." Some houses are listed, however, and consequently less amenable to alteration. The northern edge of the estate near the rail lines can also be noisy.

What properties are available?

Houses in the Shaftesbury Estate are slightly cheaper, and also smaller, than the period homes in nearby Little India. "This estate is probably the only place in Wandsworth where it is still possible to buy a Victorian terraced house for less than £400,000," says Alasdair Mackenzie of Cluttons. "While charming, the houses tend to be too small to be divided into flats, although some corner blocks have been converted. The area is popular with top-end first-time buyers."

Are all of the homes identical?

Although the estate has a unified appearance, the houses were built to four basic designs and vary in size and minor architectural details. They are "so small as to be better described as vertical flats," quips Carrie Segrave in The London Property Guide. A few homes were built with internal bathrooms, but most had outdoor loos. Today, all bathrooms are indoors, either upstairs or down. "Houses with downstairs bathrooms tend to be smaller, and the size is reflected in property values," says Kirsty Burnham of Douglas & Gordon.

What is available?

Although the estate has an enormous number of properties, many are Peabody Estate properties reserved for housing association tenants. Lindo's two-double-bedroom house is on the quieter, south side of the rail lines bordering Eversleigh Road, and has a 19ft south-facing garden. The bathroom is downstairs, intruding on the garden, and the kitchen/dining room is 12ftx10ft. Floor area is about 644 square feet; £340,000 at Douglas & Gordon. Also on Eversleigh Road but backing onto the rail lines is a two-bedder with large reception, upstairs loo and 27ft garden, £379,950 at Barnard Marcus. A plain-fronted two-bedroom cottage on Latchmere Road near the Shaftesbury Estate is £335,000 at Andrews.

What about transport?

The estate is a short walk to Clapham Junction and has good bus services to Chelsea and the West End.

How's the shopping, wining and dining?

"Completely out of this world," says Lindo, who cites the chic boutiques, art galleries and antique shops on Battersea Rise, and a wide range of restaurants on St George's Hill. The Battersea Arts Centre and Jongleurs are local, and the Royal Court Theatre in Chelsea is just over nearby Chelsea Bridge.

What about green spaces?

Battersea Park's 200 acres encompass a boating lake, zoo, art gallery, sports arena, gardens and other facilities. Several small local parks and the Thames riverside are nearby, as are Clapham and Wandsworth Commons.

How good are the local schools?

John Burns Primary on Wycliffe Road scored 100 per cent in science (the national average is 86), and performed slightly above average in English and maths. Shaftesbury Park Primary on Ashbury Road scored near the national average in English and science but more than 10 points below in maths. Battersea Technology College, a comprehensive secondary, is well below the national average.

Estate aggents: Andrews, 020-7326 8171; Barnard Marcus, 020-7228 8686; Cluttons, 020-7228 0023; Douglas & Gordon, 020-7720 8077

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