Time Out in Lawrie Park Avenue


TIME OUT takes a long look at LPA, Sydenham and the SE26 property market. Even our website gets a mention!

Here is an abridged version*. The full article is on page 150 of 25th April edition. Get one to pin on your HIP (Home Information Pack) if you plan to sell soon …

Could the extension of the East London Line, the opening of a gastropub and a rare London sighting of Kirstie Allsopp mean that Sydenham’s time has come at last?

If you were of a religious inclination you might think it a miracle. How else to explain Sydenham suddenly acquiring Next Big Thing status in the south-east London property market? Has the Lord, tiring of his works in East Dulwich and Peckham cast his gaze south towards Penge and those lands where the Sydenhamites do dwell and smiled upon them? Or is the miracle the result of more mundane — yet, for house prices, potentially revolutionary — events? Namely the coming of the East London Line to Sydenham in 2010 and the redevelopment of Crystal Palace Park by the London Development Agency creating a revived metropolitan park of the twenty-first century.

‘Prices will rise by 50% over the next five years’

Sydenham is beyond bourgeoisification. Although upper Sydenham, with its ‘60s estates of modernist villas and wooded slopes, sees itself as an extension of Dulwich, and central and lower Sydenharn have conservation areas and fine Victorian and Edwardian streets, the town can appear unstintingly underclass in its outlook The High Street is littered with pound shops and chicken shacks, though it also has the proleterian delights of the wonderful Pide Hahmacun.

But not for long: when Kirstie Allsopp turns her full gaze on an area you know something is shifting. In a recent episode of ‘Location, Location, Location’, Channel 4’s toffee-nosed house hunter attempted to persuade a gay couple of the advantages of living in Sydenham. First she sent them down the High Street from where they returned whitefaced with fear, muttering, ‘No, no, no, no, no, no, no . . . ‘ She then pointed out that prices in Sydenham were going to rise by 50 per cent over the next five years.

That’s a startling figure, but you can still get in cheap, partly because Sydenham has such a variety of housing stock right through from the Victorian terraces and grander houses that marked its expansion and development in the mid-1800s through red-brick, between-the-wars, low-rise council blocks to the sort of ‘60s and ‘70s townhouses that are fashionable once more.

Nowhere is this more apparent than on Lawie Park Avenue and its continuation Sydenham Avenue, the broad street that links the grand neogothic St Bartholomew’s church — caught for all time by Camille Pissarro in 1871 — and the entrance to Crystal Palace Park. The spread of property goes through mock Tudor to 1960s townhouses and ’40s and ‘50s ex-Brom1ey local authority blocks at the park end. Although Michael Crowley of Property World, an independent family estate agents based Sydenham, says the avenue ‘is very well preserved and anything on there makes money’ he has also just sold a one-bedroom flat in the area for £190,000.

If you wander up the wide tree lined avenue on a summer evening (past the benches on the roundabout that were put out for recovering casualties from the Western Front in 1915), Sydenham’s ever present sense of the past can make it a dreamy place. But the futurelooks promising too. An ongoing campaign by the excellent Sydenham Society (www.sydenhamsociety.com) to pedestrianise the area around Cobbs Cornerand the railway station – which already boasts Kirkdale books one of the best independent bookshops in south London – and the excellent website Sydenham Town Forum (www.sydenenham.org.uk). enjoyable for a peevish tone that concentrates on topics like the search for ‘a decent middle-class pub’.

Now, with the openning of The Dolphin gastropub on the High Street, they have one. With free wi-fi and venison on the menu it’s better at the gastro bit than the pub bit, but a sure sign that the middle classes are coming. But there are miracles and there are miracles— whatever Kirstie Allsopp says they’ll never gentrify Penge.

© 2007 Time Out * Despite multiple applications we were unable to get formal permission to use TO’s copyrighted material. We have produced this abridged and corrected version in the hope that it would generate some extra business and publicity to TO. We hope they will not mind us using this material.

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