More For Your Money: Hither Green SE13

A twist in your sobriety
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The Independent Online

Less than a mile south of bustling Lewisham lies Hither Green, a placid dormitory town top-heavy in modest bay-fronted period terraces, and seriously deficient in pubs. In both of these attributes, the town mirrors the values of the Scottish Presbyterian who was its main developer.

Less than a mile south of bustling Lewisham lies Hither Green, a placid dormitory town top-heavy in modest bay-fronted period terraces, and seriously deficient in pubs. In both of these attributes, the town mirrors the values of the Scottish Presbyterian who was its main developer.

An MP and prolific builder, Archibald Cameron Corbett built more than 3,000 houses in Hither Green and Catford between 1896 and 1914.

Off-limits to him were Mountsfield, a private estate whose grounds became the current Mountsfield Park, and an 11.5-acre hospital site that is now nearing completion as a residential development.

"Hither Green has just a handful of pubs, and I like the town all the more for it," says one resident, James Rebbeck.

"As a Presbyterian, Corbett was a temperance man, and he made the rules against licensed premises so tight that it is still hard to get round them. That means there is no drunken behaviour on the streets, no vomit, nowhere to deal drugs. Excellent. I love pubs, but not on my doorstep."

Happy in Hither Green, Rebbeck originally had Lewisham in his sights: "My partner and I moved to London from Kent in 1997. We really wanted to buy in the centre of Lewisham, but the property boom was just starting, and prices slipped out of our reach.

"In the end, we bought a three-bedroom Edwardian terrace a half-mile away. We had two non-negotiable requirements: a sunny garden and off-street parking, and we got both. The house is an Edwardian mid-terrace with many original features, and we love it. Like most homes in the area, it is bigger than the average and is really well built."

Although Hither Green was a consolation prize, Rebbeck, a media manager, has no intention of using his current property as a springboard, at least to a different London locale.

"I'm living and working in Brussels at the moment, but plan to return home when my stint finishes in a couple of years," he says. "We intend to stay put for 10 years, then move to France. London isn't the best place when you're old, unless you're rich."

Rebbeck believes that his house has more than doubled in value over the last eight years, and he is confident that this upward momentum will continue, largely due to the hospital conversion.

"It is only a two-minute walk from the station, looks quite good now and just might be a catalyst for regenerating the most run-down part of Hither Green Lane."

What is available for singles and first-timers?

Studio flats, most of which are in period conversions, start at about £110,000, rising to £130,000 for one-bed flats and £155,000 for two-bedders.

What about families?

Two-bed period houses sell for about £200,000, and many three-bed period houses are available for between £240,000 and £250,000, "just under the stamp-duty threshold," says Tony Ravenscroft of Acorn Estates. Four-bed houses are scarce and sell for about £400,000. Most of Hither Green's four-storey houses with five or more bedrooms have been converted into flats.

Tell me more about the hospital conversion

In its first phase in the late 1990s, Bellway Homes built a mix of flats and two- and three-bed houses totalling 153 units. The developer is now starting to release 518 more flats in the second and final phase.

The Victorian water-tower will become a management office and local history exhibition venue, and two original buildings will contain live-work units.

The development also features 550 underground parking spaces.

What is currently available?

In addition to first-phase flats and houses that periodically come onto the second-hand market, Bellway's current release of flats starts at £173,995 for one-bed flats. For some units, Bellway will pay a guaranteed monthly rental income of £700 for two years. Read the small print.

How do you get around?

All of Hither Green is convenient either for the train station or bus service to Lewisham. Train service is fast and frequent between Hither Green and London Bridge, Waterloo East, Charing Cross and Cannon Street stations. Lewisham links with the Docklands Light Railway for access to Canary Wharf, Stratford and the City. The South Circular A205 skirts Mountsfield Park.

How is the shopping and other amenities?

A Co-op and plenty of takeaways distinguish Hither Green Lane, but Lewisham, a major shopping precinct, is just down the road, and Bluewater, in Kent, is a 30-minute drive. Mostly dry Hither Green offers little by way of wining and dining, but a wide variety of oases and eateries are available nearby in Lewisham and Blackheath.

"Lewisham's state schools aren't known to be among the capital's best, but there are several decent private schools in the area for those who can afford it," says Rebbeck.

What about recreation?

Mountsfield Park,situated alongside the former hospital grounds, has a tennis court, playground and, thanks to its elevated position, open vistas and panoramic views. Nearby, Manor House Gardens has a pond and tennis courts.

And one for the pub quiz

How did Hither Green get its name?

The rather prosaic answer: One green nearer to Lewisham, it was dubbed Hither to distinguish it from the other, christened Further Green.

Acorn: 020-8852 4455; Bellway: 0845 071 2085

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