Peckham takes top spot: house price growth in London’s hipster hotspot outpaces every UK district

Forty years ago, Peckham was one of Europe’s most deprived inner-city areas. Today, as exclusive research for Homes & Property reveals, house prices there have outpaced every district in the UK, scoring the greatest price growth since records began in 1995.

The study by Knight Frank and its head of research, Tom Bill, trawling through nearly 25 years of Land Registry figures, shows SE15 values have exploded by 1,082 per cent.

The high cost of property in the capital has pushed demand into south-east London, “driving the rejuvenation of areas like Peckham and beyond as house price growth ripples outwards from the centre”, explains Tom Bill. 

For generations Peckham had a reputation for poverty, crime and high unemployment. Yet in 20 years it has become a hipster hotspot, attracting artists and musicians to its hot nightspots.

Twice it’s been named London’s coolest neighbourhood and this month came 11th in a survey of the best urban districts in the world.

Journalist and author Liz Hoggard bought the “smallest and cheapest flat” she could find when she moved to Peckham in 1999.

Journalist and author Liz Hoggard bought the smallest, cheapest flat she could find in Peckham in 1999. It was in Bellenden Road, now the “artisanal heart” of the area (Matt Writtle)

Her street, Bellenden Road, has transformed since then and now has a grocers where the produce is arranged like a still life, a butchers and an independent bookshop, Review. It’s frequently dubbed “artisanal heart of Peckham”. 

When Hoggard moved in, the council was part way through a regeneration which included the futuristic Stirling Prize-winning public library designed by Will Alsop.

Part of that focus was also on improving street furniture so they harnessed local talent, asking renowned artists Antony Gormley and Tom Phillips to design the traffic bollards and lamp posts.

Today, there are art galleries galore. “It’s very entrepreneurial too,” adds local resident, Holly Kirkwood. “From microbreweries to independent shops which everyone supports, Peckham is a self-sufficient community which is very live-and-let-live.” 

Passionate campaigning

Credit for this reincarnation goes to the community. Eileen Conn is the founder of Peckham Vision, a group that rescued key buildings and spaces around Peckham Rye station.

They include the Bussey Building; the Old Waiting Room; Peckham multi storey car park with its popular rooftop bar Frank’s Café and Peckham Levels, and PeckhamPlex — all of which contribute to Peckham’s special identity.


Bussey Rooftop Bar at the Bussey Building in Rye Lane, a former industrial space that’s now a haven for arts, events, entertainment and creative start-ups (Alamy Stock Photo)

When many of these buildings were earmarked for demolition, Conn challenged Southwark council to rethink its plans.

Standing in busy Copeland Park — an industrial site that was set to be flattened for a tram depot but is now home to local businesses and pop-ups — she says: “Since 2005, the group have campaigned to highlight reuse and restoration. Existing buildings are a record of the local social and visual history — they affect the sense of place and identity of an area.”

Peckham Vision’s methodology is to underline that demolishing buildings produces hundreds of tons of waste and carbon emissions.

“We’ve proved it’s possible to find new, economically vibrant purposes for existing buildings. ”

Price pressure

Many original families have capitalised on their soaring property values and moved out.

“Few young people today can afford to rent, let alone buy a house,” laments Conn. The average price of a property is just under £550,000 according to Rightmove.

Accessibility has been key. The Overground’s arrival in 2012 linking Peckham to Surrey Quays encouraged an influx of successful professionals and young families, pushing up standards in local primary schools.

“Million-pound houses sit cheek-by-jowl with council estates, but communities interact through events,” says Zohra Huda of local estate agents Gareth James, who adds the next area to be “revamped” will be north of Queens Road Peckham.

Alongside the sourdough bakeries and trendy eateries are long-standing markets, cafés and Peckham stalwarts Khan’s Bargain and M.Manze pie and mash shop.

Last year, London’s first dedicated Afro hair and beauty hub, Peckham Palms, opened in a space for firms relocated during the station renovation.

“It’s essential everything is done to protect and preserve this mix and diversity,” says Liz Hoggard.

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