"Brockley: understated gem"

The Evening Standard has discovered South East London.

Yesterday's Homes & Property section included a double page spread, examining the areas located along the East London Line extension.

Brockley was described as "an understated gem," with "a strong sense of community" and "a number of new coffee shops and restaurants."

Apparently, when the line opens, places like Brockley "will be no more difficult to commute to than Clapham, Wimbledon and Richmond."

Brockley Central always thought that Brockley was considerably easier to reach from the centre of town than any of those locations, which are further out and served by overcrowded tube lines which make the peak-time overland service to London Bridge look spacious, but overland-prejudice is a burden we have always carried as a South East Londoner.

An interview with Hilly Fields resident Oliver White helps to put the record straight (he claims to be able to get to Cannon Street in 12 minutes, so presumably sprints between platforms at London Bridge), but the whole feature prompts the question - do Brockley residents want the area to be "discovered"?

What do you think?

29 comments:

Jon said...

Personally, I would like the area to be discovered. I'm proud of my area and I want others to know about it - I think it has a lot to offer.

But, I get the impression that many of the residents would not be so happy. I think people fear that as the area comes into the limelight the charm and community vibe will leave us, making way for a faceless Blackheath clone where everyone is a stranger. My view is that Brockley has enough diversity and characters to stop this from ever being the case.

Oliver White quite possibly gets the Southern service from St. Johns, which goes straight to Cannon Street, has longer more modern trains (although probably no less crowded) and, on a good day, is a realistic 12 mins :)

Brockley Nick said...

Oliver, if you're reading this, please tell us how you do it!

Anonymous said...

Jon, I agree, I'm happy to have brockley 'discovered' and put on the map. In fact, I think the biggest benefit of the ELL will be getting Brockley onto the tube map -- it will do wonders for the name recognition issue. (we will be on the map, right? does anyone know for sure?)

I lived in Greenwich around the time that the DLR and Jubilee lines came in; the big difference was the travel time to Canary Wharf (via DLR) - this really changed the make-up of my immediate community. My neighbours had been an incredibly diverse, involved, creative bunch; like me, many of them have been priced out over the last couple of years. I have nothing against canary wharf or those who work there, but they tend to have much less time for their local community. Greenwich used to sustain lots of self-employed, work-from-home types; now my old street is almost all two-income bank-commuting couples. As we aren't getting any closer to the City or Docklands, or, in fact, anywhere useful, I think we'll be all right for a while.

Andrew Brown said...

"Discovered"?

I know this is darkest South London, but I've not seen men with pith helmets or handlebar moustaches boarding the trains or buses.

Pah to "discovered".

Jon Paul Morgan said...

Some three years ago, I was hoping to find that special place, and searched high and 'low' around London. Finally, after much pounding the beat, I thought I had found it in a place called 'Brockley'. (I tripped over it.) Unfortunately She Who Sighs did not like my choice, and I searched both high and low again - often. Of course, I never could find that place called 'home'.
Two years later however, having continued my Whicker round London -shoes wearing ever-more thin - she who signs the chequebook said: 'Quite liked that Brockley place actually.'

Of course prices had shot up, we paid over the odds, but I can't complain... I always had one eye in the middle of next week and it knew where 'Brockers' was headed.

However, I was genuinely saddened to read Anonymous saying, 'I think we'll be all right for a while.' (But I don't know why you need to be Anonymous to say that.)

It does make you think... But I'm fairly certain... Brockers is 'all right' for much longer.

Kate said...

I don't particularly want to be 'discovered' unless it would mean more regular transport services. (And we'd need them to cope with any increase in commuters that being 'discovered' would cause!)
The big difference between somewhere like Richmond and Brockley is that Brockley's train services are dire. Try getting a train home at peak hours in the evening, and there's a 20 minute gap between services. That's if everything's running on time. Sorry for going a bit off topic but does anyone know how frequent train services will be once the ELL comes through? I heard the mainline service was going to be cut to 4 trains an hour, from 6.

Brockley Nick said...

Hi Kate

I wrote about train frequency and the East London Line a while ago. The current plans are in "The East London Line Mystery" article and are for frequency during peak times to increase from 5 to 6 per hour. However, many, especially The Forest Hill Society, are convinced that there are concrete plans to reduce services to four.

Andrew Brown said...

I had a briefing from Len Duval about where things were on the transport front, at least as of April.

Kate said...

Cheers for the info, both of you, v useful. So the ELL will have trains every 8 minutes? That sounds good. How's it going to work with New Cross station though? Are they still going to run ELL services that terminate there, or are they going to take it off the ELL?

Hugh said...

I get the train from St Johns to Cannon Street when it rains and can confirm that it takes about 12 minutes. A lot of people get off at London Bridge and that can add perhaps two minutes to the journey.

I'm a city layer and don't know anyone else with such an easy and quick commute.

The arrival of the Tube may be drawing attention but the irony is that the area is already extremely well served if you work at Canary Wharf or the City.

As to when the area was 'discovered' by the property market watchers, the London Property Guide entry indicates the late 1980s at the latest.

Rocodells' website once fondly recalled a time when the large houses on Tyrwhitt, Wickham etc. went for 2-300K, and mentioned a local hack for the Telegraph writing an article (surely without self-interest) telling London about where he lived. That must have been an interesting time to have lived here.

Luke said...

My mate bought a multi-storey town house on Upper Brockley road for £160k in the early nineties...

Good work...

spincat said...

Not sure I want to be 'discovered' either. Presumably the people who will do the discovering will be the same people who are currently so snooty about south east London - the people who write reviews saying things like: "this would be a nice cafe if you didn't have to trek out to south east London to get to it." etc etc

Kate said...

Yeah, and when they ask you where you live, you say 'Brockley' and they say 'eh?' and you say 'It's south east London' and they go 'oh!' and you add 'just by Lewisham' and they go 'eew' and you think 'prejudiced tosser'.

Well I do anyway.

Luke said...

Depending on the blinkered in question, I describe Brockley's whereabouts as: "between Catford and New Cross", to delight in watching noses curl. Or "between Dulwich and Blackheath", if smugpants has just banged on about their* Upper Street boudoir for three hours...




*Daddy's

Barryls said...

Just moved to Crofton Park a few months ago from Maida Vale, and I love it here.

People are friendly and theres loads of green space.

Can't stop bigging it up to all and sundry.

Hugh said...

I don't understand all this woolly 'we hate commercialism' and 'let's keep Brokcley different' nonsense. Having a Sainsbury's Local at the end of Tyrwhitt Road would, I'm sure, do nothing to undermine the friendliness of neighbourhood relations.

If what people really mean is 'we consider ourselves artists and don't want higher-paid city types moving in and crowding out or pubs', I'd suggest remembering who built the conservation area: Victorian merchants and land-owners, not graduates from the local art college.

The arty/media set never 'owned' Brockley and it's only a laughable shortage of perspective that makes people think they got here first.

I'm off to catch my train. Important meeting this afternoon on Lombard Street.

Anonymous said...

This sounds like 'Brideshead Revisted': rugger-buggers-beating- up-the-wussy-poets type of thing. Why assume? I am not an arty type, whatever that is, and my problem is purely irritation at the spectacle of those who once sneered at Brockley suddenly being smug because they have discovered. Btw, I am the earlier poster: spincat, but, in an arty moment, I destroyed my identiy !

Nicola said...

16th Jan - completely agree with the Ev Standard article - Hilly Fields Conservation Area IS an understated and undiscovered gem. We looked absolutely everywhere in zone 2 and found this was best, in terms of architecture, promixity to fantastic schools that come in the UK's top for both boys and girls each year, easy access to town (Charing Cross, Victoria), transport to City and Can Wharf (where 20% of the country's GDP is generated by the way). Perfect for men and women who work in the City or west end and want a short commute back to their families.

And of course CURRENT PRICES....

(See my other postings on Nick's previous articles on London house prices a couple of weeks ago regarding costs er sq foot.)

To cut a long story short, prices could easily double in the Conservation area and they would then be at the same level of relative value (?overvalue) as eg Islington is today. This is not just my view; it is empirical fact.

As everywhere in london though, it is the family houses where a particular value lies - not just because of their bigger absolute amounts but also because there is such a shortage that I personally think it is a screaming buy. (Even today with all the gloom in the sector.)

The truth is that they just ain't making central London family houses any more. At least not at a price that a non oligarch can afford!

brockley mutha said...

Brockley has never been undiscovered. It's just been under-appreciated, and a pain to get to (regardless of how quickly you can get to Cannon st). Of course its going to change, but hey all of london changes. Before we moved to brockley, we lived just off tooting common - conservation area, very desirable road. My mother had friends there in the 70s and it was one of the worst areas in London for drugs, prostitution and slum landlords. now its incredibly chi chi. no area stays static, lets thank heaven brockley is improving instead of going downhill. and if we want to keep the community vibe, its up to us.

brockley mutha again said...

I also have a bugbear with the term 'undiscovered' - that's to say it annoys the hell out of me. it's an elitist and disingenuous little word which really means in the context of the Evening Standard article 'unacknowledged or undesired by the middle classes (or something along those lines).

The question that we're asking is really is not 'do we want to be discovered' - its more about change - and what sort of change we'd like to see, if any?

Tom said...

Because of the blurring of lines between houses as places to live and houses as an investment, the term "undiscovered" probably both implies "nice area" and "potential profit to be made".

When I read the property sections of newspapers, I usually think they are talking about the first interpretation but nodding and winking furiously about the second.

Headhunter said...

I never really understand the whole "Brockley is a pain to get to" thing. Possibly it is from the extreme north or west of London, but from central London - City or otherwise it's a breeze - straight to London Br and then on to Char X (of course that will change with the ELL...). Makes me laugh - there was a review of some band playing at the Amersham Arms in Time Out last week and they referred to New Cross as having worse links than Baghdad or something... OK the links aren't as good as they used to be - NC and NC Gate seem to have been down graded over the years but it ain't exactly far from London Br or Charing X!

spincat said...

It has always been the same - presumably all the Time Out staff living north of river cos the way they variably use words like "trek" (as in "you have to trek out to south London") when talking about going to a bar or club in south east London. As if the person was leading a small beleagured husky team, instead of making a short & sensible train, DLR or bus journey.

brockley mutha said...

@ headhunter and spincat. In many ways you are both right. I'm probably basing my opinion more on the quality of the transport services than the distance. daily cancellations, overcrowding, and burning warehouses (at least 3 times in my commuting career).

Headhunter said...

Brockley Mutha - "daily cancellations, overcrowding, and burning warehouses", that's the same wherever you live in London though (well perhaps not the burning warehouses!) Ask anyone who lives along the Northern Line! I was shocked when I 1st moved to London that lines were just closed for a day or 2. I moved to London from Japan - if a subway or overland train line there had stopped running for more than an hour it would have made front page national news! I took trains all over the place daily and never saw a train late by more than 5 mins...

At least in SE London you're on a train in the open air and not crushed into a Tube train hurtling along a dark tunnel! Well that's my view at least....

spincat said...

I find it bizarre that anyone would want to travel voluntarily in a tube train, and why 'being on the tube' is an incentive for moving somewhere. In the last year my regular overground train from Crofton Park has probably only been cancelled a couple of times and is rarely more than a few minutes late.

Oliver White said...

I take the train from St Johns to Cannon St, so no sprinting across platforms at London Bridge required.

pfkaG said...

Whoa! Oliver White - two years and almost two months to respond to an article in which you are mentioned.

Respect.

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