First-time buyer homes in London: the best nights out aren’t in the West End but in hipster neighbourhoods with bars a-plenty near new flats

The London Jazz Festival is in full swing with performances across the capital, from the Royal Albert Hall in Kensington to Dalston’s Vortex club. There’s even jazz for toddlers at the Southbank Centre and free live sets at GROW community café in Hackney Wick. 

Here’s our take on the London boroughs that are always ready for a party.

London’s new culture boroughs 

Central London used to own the crown for the best nightlife, shopping and leisure venues and, though the top locations still sparkle brightest in Westminster, Kensington & Chelsea and Islington, research by property consultants CBRE shows that new scenes are emerging across the capital all the time.

Southwark, Tower Hamlets and Wandsworth, with outer areas such as Barnet and Croydon, are turning up the heat with shops, pubs, bars, restaurants, cafés and leisure, for young Londoners who want to live near the action rather than travel into the West End to pay through the nose  for a night out. 

Some areas evolve organically, based on tradition, like-minded residents or clusters of enterprise; others have been curated by placemakers and developers.

Whichever you choose, you will find London’s diverse culture creates a big draw for home buyers, according to Abigail Heyworth of Knight Frank. 

“Culture is critical, especially to the  large regeneration projects and has become an integral part of creating a destination,” she adds.

Southwark

There are 170 pubs and bars in Southwark. However, it is also home to more museums than Kensington & Chelsea. 

Camberwell 

Camberwell College of Arts, dating back to 1898, is now part of University of the Arts London and the vibrant area is heavily populated with students, artists and creatives. 

Galleries have sprung up around the college including the South London Gallery housed in the Grade II-listed former Peckham Road Fire Station — and entry is free.

The newest gallery is Sim Smith, in a Georgian townhouse, which exhibits the work of up-and-coming artists. It’s a strong scene and one for developers to tap into.

Three-bedroom flats are available in the Camberwell On The Green boutique block from £785,000. Contact Marsh & Parsons on 020 7358 6088.

Peckham

“Hipster central”, this neighbourhood is gentrifying fast with fashionable bars and restaurants alongside landmark period buildings. 

The Bussey Building, once a factory that made cricket bats, now sports a rooftop film club with deckchairs instead of cinema seats. Inside there are raves, gigs, plays and a café. 

Peckham Levels is opposite. Formerly a disused multi-storey car park, it has been transformed into an exhibition centre with studio space for creative businesses. Popular local restaurants include Forza Win, an Italian eatery in a warehouse. 

Homes are available in the Notting Hill Genesis scheme Peckham Place. Prices start from £440,000 for a one-bedroom apartment. Call 020 3627 0483 for more information. 

Wandsworth

Home to Battersea, Clapham Junction and Putney, Wandsworth has 130 bars, restaurants and cafés to meet the needs of incoming young professionals and families. The average house price is £565,377.

But between bustling Putney High Street and the artisanal Wandsworth Old Town, there was an ugly, culture-free gap of industrial buildings and a dated retail offering next to the roaring South Circular gyratory road system. 

Now, Chinese developer Greenland is halfway through its £600 million transformation of the 19th-century Young’s Brewery into The Ram Quarter, with 713 homes and 100,000sq ft of new shops and restaurants on the way.

Greenland is playing on the brewing heritage with warehouse-style apartments for sale in the Grade II-listed Coopers Lofts, starting from £580,000 with Help to Buy available. Visit theramquarter.com or call 020 3751 3190 for details. 

Local craft brewery Sambrooks is relocating to the site and the new Backyard Cinema has opened, where filmgoers push through a wardrobe-style door into a woodland-themed screening room.

There’s a cocktail bar made to look like a dusty library and street food on sale, all within the shell of former television studios.

Woolwich

Greenwich has launched a bid to become the London Borough of Culture 2021. 

The transformation of Woolwich will play a starring role and last weekend Berkeley Homes launched the UK’s largest contemporary print fair at its £1.2 billion Royal Arsenal Riverside development. 

As well as 5,000 homes, restaurants and retail across an 88-acre site, five of the 20 historic military buildings will form the Woolwich Creative District. 

Designed by architects Bennetts Associates, there will be a 1,800-capacity concert hall, a children’s theatre, creative studios, community space and a coffee shop and bar. 

The theatre company Punchdrunk is moving in, along with Chineke — the first European black and ethnic minority orchestra.

Prices start from £485,000 for a one-bedroom apartment at Navigator Wharf. Residents will have access to the spa, swimming pool and gym, 24-hour concierge and cinema. Call 020 8003 6633 for more. 

Deptford

Deptford is following in the footsteps of achingly trendy Brixton and Peckham. 

It has long-established street markets selling everything from fruit and veg to haberdashery — but these now sit alongside new independent gin bars, pie shops and tattoo parlours.

The Albany is an arts centre offering circus, dance and theatre and the 40-seat Deptford Cinema shows classics and art house films.

Accountant Ben Lloyd used Help to Buy to purchase a one-bedroom apartment in 316-home Deptford Foundry, once a metalworks. 

Ben, 24, believes the building nods to its creative surroundings with 85 affordable artist studios within the scheme. “I love the area and the vibe. There are so many great bars and pubs to choose from,” he says.

The latest and final phase of 58 homes has just launched in 22-storey Cobalt Tower. Prices start from £395,000. Call 020 7526 9229.

Turning a scheme into a scene 

The Urban Land Institute published a six-step guide to cultural place making last month, highlighting the need for a shared vision between developer and community. A collection of new amenities takes time to become part of a scene.

“We can’t manufacture culture but we can encourage it,” says Hala El Akl, who chairs the institute’s Urban Art Forum. “A cultural offering for a scheme can’t just be copied or bolted on. It’s crucial that it is connected to what’s around it.”

New developments don’t automatically deliver a vibe but they can help enhance London’s eclectic essence and ensure affordable culture is on the doorstep for homeowners, wherever that doorstep may be.



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