More For Your Money: Newington, SE1 & SE17

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The Independent Online

Sandwiched between Borough and Walworth in Southwark, Newington is obscure even to some of the people who live there. Locals usually identify with Borough, Walworth or Elephant and Castle, and outsiders see little more than hard-core council estates and trunk roads.

Sandwiched between Borough and Walworth in Southwark, Newington is obscure even to some of the people who live there. Locals usually identify with Borough, Walworth or Elephant and Castle, and outsiders see little more than hard-core council estates and trunk roads.

But greater Newington has a number of quiet, attractive Georgian and Victorian squares served by some of London's best street markets. It also straddles Elephant and Castle, scheduled for a £1.5bn regeneration which will transform the entire area.

Close to Parliament and Whitehall, and also to St Thomas's, Guy's and King's hospitals, Newington attracts MPs, medical students and professionals seeking proximity to central London. In 1993, Jane Green, a teacher at the City Lit, moved north from Wimbledon so that she could walk to work. "This was the only area I could afford that had period houses with gardens and was within walking distance of the City Lit, which is in Covent Garden. I found a house on Brockham Street with hideous décor and the area was run down, but both had potential." Brockham Street adjoins Trinity Church Square.

When Jane Green and her partner split up recently, she became a reluctant seller: "I liked living there. We used to go to jazz concerts in Burgess Park, and shop at Borough Market. The Tate Modern is a 10-minute walk. Because of the price rises since 1993, I couldn't afford to buy him out. I would have remained if not for the money." Both Jane Green and her partner have relocated within the general area: she in a period house with garden in a conservation area near Burgess Park, and he in a flat in Kennington.

"This area has some really lovely squares, especially West Square near the Elephant, Walcot, which is really a triangle, and Merrick, which is quiet because it has no through traffic," says Green. "There is also a real hodgepodge of people: posh, middle-class, hard-working working class and the unemployed." Her house was purchased by a young professional couple who promptly became a young family. "Three days after they moved in, she gave birth in the living room in the birthing pool they'd installed."

What's available?

Between the extremes of council estates and Georgian squares, the Newington area offers high-rise flats with panoramic views in new-builds and office conversions. A local school conversion has flats with high ceilings in a complex with a walled garden and enclosed parking.

What do flats cost?

Studios and one-bed ex-council flats start at about £100,000, jumping steeply, says Mark Davis of Winkworth, to £225,000 and more for conversion flats. In the large modern Metro Central Heights on Newington Causeway, near Elephant and Castle underground, studios, one-bedders and two-bedders sell for between about £140,000 and £225,000.

What about houses?

Winkworth is selling a flat-fronted Georgian house with off-street parking on Brockham Street with two currently unused cellar rooms for £540,000. Period houses on Henshaw Street sell for about £300,000 if tatty, and £350,000 in good condition. Four-storey houses in good condition in Georgian squares sell for about £600,000, and the best houses in West Square start at about £1m.

Are there flats for sale in any of the squares?

According to Winkworth, most of the houses in Trinity Church Square have been converted into flats. Dickens Square may get 92 new residential units. The council says yes, but organisations such as the Trinity Newington Residents' Association are opposed. ( www.tnra.org.uk)

How do you get around?

Newington is within the congestion charge zone for cars. Elephant and Castle and Borough underground are on the City branch of the Northern Line, and Elephant and Castle also serves the Bakerloo Line and Thameslink. Waterloo and London Bridge stations are within walking distance. Elephant and Castle may get a tram.

How's the shopping

Newington is near Borough Market (Friday and Saturday) and the venerable East Street Market, where eels rub shoulders with Caribbean jerk chicken and Asian curry (daily except Monday; on Sundays, clothing, flowers and bric-a-brac join the fray). The Elephant and Castle shopping centre is earmarked for demolition.

Pubs, clubs and culture?

With The Cut and South Bank nearby, choice extends from friendly local pubs to tapas bars and pricey fish restaurants. Jane Green praises the Royal Oak pub, TAS restaurant on Borough High Street and Cucina pizzeria, and Winkworth's Davis recommends the Lobster Pot.

What's happening with the Elephant and Castle?

More than 5,000 new and replacement homes will be built in the 170-acre regeneration zone. Most areas will contain a mixture of new housing-association homes and private developments with 30 per cent social housing. ( www.elephantandcastle.org.uk)

Will it all be modern high-rise?

The residential buildings will be low- to mid-rise blocks of between four and eight storeys. The Heygate Estate will be razed and a new town park will be built in its place.

Where exactly is Newington? It's about as clear as mud. In some London atlases, Newington is directly south of Borough (encompassing Newington Gardens), in others it is at Elephant and Castle (including Newington Butts and Newington Causeway), while some mapmakers place it farther east (near Bricklayer's Arms). Bottom line for property purchasers: Newington is between Borough and Walworth.

Winkworth, 020 7587 0600

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