More For Your Money: Streatham, SW2

The word on the street
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The Independent Online

Conveniently adjoining Streatham Hill station in south London, the late-Victorian Leigham Court Estate boasts a blend of flats, houses, shops and a church. It was intended as a socially mixed, self-contained community, and still is. Now a conservation area, the estate is generally uniform in appearance but individual houses vary considerably.

Located mostly on four main roads - Amesbury, Barcombe, Cricklade and Downton Avenues, known locally as the "ABCD" Estate - it was built by the Artisans, Labourers and General Dwelling Company to provide decent housing for workers. In 1966 Lambeth Council took control, and it was declared a conservation area in 1981. Now a mix of private and council properties, the estate is nearing the end of a consultation period and possible transfer to a housing association.

"Some residents defend the principle of council housing but a housing association seems to be the only way the estate will get enough money to make needed improvements," says Jonathan Lillistone, who lives on the estate with his wife, Clare Sutton, and six-month-old Benjamin. "Leigham Court requires significantly more money than a typical estate because it is old and architecturally distinct. Some of the council units are still without central heating, and have had no new kitchen and bathroom for 30 or 40 years. I think there will probably be a consensus to change to a housing association provided the deal is right," he says.

Jon and Clare found Leigham Court when they were house-hunting seven years ago. "I was flat-sharing in Brixton and Clare, who was then my fiancée, was living in another part of Streatham. In Brixton, we could get a shoebox flat with a small garden. Here, for similar money and only a mile up the road, we got a four-bed maisonette with a nice garden next to a park with tennis courts. The area is very green and much less hectic than Brixton."

Jon's timing was good. "When we moved in, some properties were boarded up. Now, families are moving here from Clapham and Wandsworth to get more for their money, so it is increasingly gentrifying. And with the right investment, even more people will move here.

"Our maisonette is very generously proportioned. To get the same space on nicer roads, we would have to double our mortgage. We will be here for a good few years yet."

What do the properties cost?

One-bed flats can be had for less than £200,000, and two-bedders start at about £200,000, rising to about £400,000 for four-bed terraces. Estate properties are also located on the intersecting roads (Emsworth Street and Faygate Road) as well as Lydhurst Avenue and a few others.

Tell me about entrance-level flats.

A ground-floor two-double-bed flat with a private south-west-facing rear garden on Cricklade Avenue is £205,000; a split-level three-bed flat with rear garden and unusual semi-circular window on the top floor is £229,950; both at Haart.

What about houses?

A two-reception four-bed plain-fronted house on Amesbury Avenue, the road nearest to Streatham Hill station, has a 20ft rear garden, £312,000. On the same road, another two-reception four-bed house with 20ft rear garden has a balcony alcove on the first floor and a 14ft bedroom on the second, £330,750. Both at Haart.

Anything available that is newer?

A four-bed two-reception semi on Downton Avenue was built in the 1930s and has bay windows with a touch of half-timbering. Its large kitchen has French doors and a skylight, and the south-facing garden is laid to shingle; £385,000 at Haart. On Wyatt Park Road, the first road outside the ABCD grid, a large (1,702 sq ft) three-bed 1930s semi with three receptions and nearly 50ft rear garden is £379,950 at Kinleigh Folkard & Hayward.

What about transport?

Streatham Hill national rail station serves Clapham Junction and Victoria. Streatham station to the south has Thameslink service to Blackfriars and King's Cross, and suburban service to London Bridge.

What about the shops?

Shopping is not brilliant in the immediate area but a cinema, bowling alley, swimming pool and ice rink are nearby. Superstores are opposite Streatham Common and in Streatham Vale.

What about parks?

Hillside Gardens is a recreation ground occupying the estate's entire eastern end. Nearby are small greens, some with tennis courts, and Tooting Bec Common, with its lido, is half a mile away. Also nearby is The Rookery, the gardens next to Streatham Common.

How good are the schools?

Hitherfield Primary had below-average results in English with 73 per cent but did well in maths on 86 per cent and even better in science on 95 per cent (national averages are 78, 74 and 86).

Dunraven Secondary on Leigham Court Road obtained 66 per cent GCSEs for 2004 (national average is 54), but scored 43 per cent in 2000 and has been enjoying steady rises since.

And one for the pub quiz ...

What other estates were built by the Artisans Company in London?

Noel Park, Queens Park Estate, and the Shaftesbury Estate.

Kinleigh Folkard & Hayward, 020 8769 8744; Haart, 020 8769 7711.