Them and us: East Dulwich

For the second in our "Them and Us" series, we thought we'd better get the inside track on East Dulwich - an area that has gained totemic status in Brockley's great 'gentrification debate'. So we asked Jane - who lives there - and this is what she told us:

What are the best things about living in East Dulwich?

The range of shops and services in East Dulwich, many of which are still independently owned; the mix of people - hasn't (yet) been completely repopulated by families moving out from Clapham along 37 bus route; Lordship Lane is still fairly quiet in the evenings - the ratio of shops to bars and restaurants is far better than in places like Northcote Road; the parks nearby; easy access to Victoria and in fact Kings Road if you take the stopping train from Denmark Hill; nice victorian houses on quiet roads; interesting fringe areas to visit such as Bellenden Road/Peckham, Horniman, Dulwich Village, Sydenham Woods. It does have a very good community feel to it and there is lots to do, such as pub quizzes, film nights, local WI (very popular), various fetes and fairs throughout the year. Also there are no major roads running through ED whereas Forest Hill up the road is basically built around the south circular, and there's a market on Friday and Saturday on Northcross Road.

What has been the biggest change since you moved to East Dulwich?

We moved here in December 2003 - the biggest change must be that then it was still very good value for money compared to areas such as Clapham and Herne Hill. The other main developments have been the increase in destination shops and cafes on Lordship Lane and the ensuing increase in traffic and visitors - also now much harder to park.

Some people in Brockley hold East Dulwich up as an example of an area where "gentrification" has gone too far and the area has lost something as a result. Do you think that's fair?

There's an element of truth to this - as I mentioned the mix of people living here which gives it a fairly safe community feel is changing and becoming more homogenous and therefore less interesting. With gentrification come rent rises and you lose some of the more surprising and interesting shops and businesses which give an area its character. These are being replaced with lots of mainstream shops catering entirely to the incomers who do seem to be mainly young parents. This process of Claphamisation does seem to be inevitable.

What do you think prompted East Dulwich's gentrification?

House price rises meant that ED became the next obvious place for people to move to. I think transport links improved, and the myth that it is really difficult to get to was debunked.


How does the area build a sense of community?

Aside from the groups I mentioned earlier, the East Dulwich Forum is hugely popular and most people I know spend a lot of time there, lurking if not posting. The Dulwich Festival is always a draw, as are the events and courses run by Dulwich Picture Gallery - not in ED but within easy reach.

What would you recommend for the casual visitor to do in E Dulwich?

Assuming the visitor was casual, they might like to drop into Le Chandelier and try some of their freshly baked breads or pastries, then stop at Jacks on Pellatt Road for their coffee or flapjack. Later on they could pick up some fishcakes from Moxons or some meatballs from William Rose butcher, then have a Sunday Roast in Franklins, and a drink afterwards at Green and Blue or Liquorish, followed by a cheeky kebab down the Yilmaz. Yummy Mummies can hang out in Blue Mountain Café and indulge their loved ones in Jo Jo Maman Bebe or the many other overpriced kids clothing shops. I would also recommend a walk in the park or down to Bellenden Road where Le Petitou does an excellent quiche. This has become culinary...So for something other than food there's Northcote Road market - or one of the small art galleries on the same road.

What (if anything) can Brockley learn from E Dulwich's experiences?

Brockley can learn that if you build it they will come. But is that what you want? Eh?


Coming soon: Hither Green, although the locals have been rather less forthcoming so far...

58 comments:

Hugh said...

But where exactly are the good houses in East Dulwich? Some nice ones on Goose Green, but they're never for sale, even assuming they're not all split into flats.

I've reviewed the area many times as a possible place to live and just don't see where the good streets are - if we're taking Brockley as a comparison.

Pete said...

That casual visitor is going to be quite full by the time he or she has followed all of that advice!

Is everyone in East Dulwich fat or do they burn it all off at the velodrome in Herne Hill?

Tom said...

They burn it off by pushing prams around!

Most people I know live in 'Upper' East Dulwich, ie in and around Barry Road.

Haha about the foodie good to E Dulwich. Difficult not to point out also that ED is a great place to buy cheese, with a pair of brilliantly expensive delis.

In terms of eating and drinking, the Clockhouse on Peckham Rye is a good boozer, Franklins is classy but a bit overpriced, Le Chardon impressive, while The Bishop, EDT and Black Cherry are a bit shouty bars for aspiring (perspiring?) Claphamites.

The back room at the Palmerston is lovely as is the back garden at the - admittedly overpriced - Springers Wine Bar.

ED also has a range of middle class takes on cheaper foods. The Sea Cow is a posh fish and chip shop while Chopsticks is a good Chinese. The Indians down there are worth checking, but they are not exceptional.

Tom said...

Of course that should read "foodie guide" ...

And it is worth noting that there is a mental health centre at the bottom end (Goose Green) of Lordship Lane. This is possibly just as appropriate as the sexual health centre prominently located on Camberwell high street!

Kate said...

I love Bellenden Rd in Peckham.

ElijahBailey said...

Tom: Why is that worth noting?

I go up there once a fortnight to go the butchers. Been doing since it opened up there. Surprisingly good value it is.

nicola name said...

Actually the conservation area in Brockley knocks ED into a cocked hat - the transport links are better here and will be MUCH better (and known about) in 2010.

The main issue for any developing area is whether it has a quality houses in good numbers. Brockley does. Everything else SHOULD follow from that (it's a necessary not sufficient condition though).


good stock of We have the basis here

Tom said...

Just a turn of phrase I guess Elijah. The rate of gentrification of Lordship Lane has thrown Cafe Nero and a mental health centre alongside one another.

Nicola, if the conservation area is so great, could you persuade someone to pay the exhorbitant price demanded to live in my road, so that they take down The Biggest Sign In The World Ever?

Brockley Nick said...

What E Dulwich has in large numbers, which much of Brockley doesn't, is small family homes. They attracted a lot of young buyers thinking of starting families - people with money and a propensity to spend in the local high street. West Brockley and Crofton Park are very important in this respect.

Monkeyboy said...

Depends what you mean by small? lots of your bog standard 3 bed victorian terrace jobs in Malpas Road. Although I've noticed a fair bit of building near me, you can just about squeeze two flats out of them. A shame but even these modest houses are beyond 1st time buyers so perhaps splitting them is the only way?

I'm feeling smug because I managed to bag a whole one.

Hugh said...

Monkeylad, you must come for Pimms when the new manoir is ready for habitation. I'll send someone to bring you up the drive so you don't lose your way.

Monkeyboy said...

Not likley, last time I was there your ground keeper horse whipped me for daring to meet your gaze.

...by the way I lived in Hither Green for about a year. It's rubbish.

That ought to stir up some debate.

Headhunter said...

Tom - the asking price for 2 bed garden flats in the conservation area seems to be £270k and upwards these days, asking prices don't seem to have dropped at all despite recent market events, however none of them seem to be selling. Have any of those flats in that refurbished line of houses at the top of Breakspears actually sold yet?

Nick - there are quite a few whole houses in Brockley round the station, on the dark, I mean, west side and all around St Johns and Crofton Park if we're including them.

I think what E Dulwich has to push prices up and attract gentrification is its proximity to expensive areas like Dulwich Village and even Clapham. It naturally takes the overspill from these areas. Brockers is that bit further east, and although we're not far from Greenwich and Blackheath, we're not close enough perhaps to make Brockers an overspill area. Also Brockers is perilously close to New Cross and Lewisham! Brockers has to pull itself up by its own boot straps to a larger extent than areas further west

Anonymous said...

Re. Small affordable houses:
We bought a house in Foxwell Mews (westside - right next to the station) for £250k (August last year), one went in Reynard Close a couple months before that for £245k. East Dulwich has a small village of these newish small houses next to Sainsburys, but they're on the market for 330k-385k. On top of that, they're right next to a huge council estate and have a big problem with burglaries.

Paul

Pete said...

Although Brockley does obviously benefit from its clost proximity to Ladywell!!

JPM said...

Tom, they're ot allowed to have a big sign there.

Headhunter said...

Anon - the thing is prices will stick at about the £250k mark as after that stamp duty leaps up. Prices in an area will often take a while to pull away from £250k because of this, esp in the current market, however once they rise over £300k they are free to rise quite quickly before they hit the next stamp duty band. Probably quite a good time to buy property at about the £250k or below mark in Brockers as at the moment prices are at that sticking point but once the current market doldrums end, prices achieved will probably quite quickly get up to the £300 mark...

Pete - Was that a joke?! How does Brockers benefit from being near Ladywell? I would have thought the reverse was true!

Pete said...

Yes it was a joke.

Although I actually think that Ladywell has some advantages over Brockley, at least if you live where I do. I can walk to the station in 2 minutes, I'm within just as easy reach of the things that make Brockley nice as most people who live in Brockley but I'm closer to the large shops in central Lewisham than people who live in Brockley. (Of course being so close to central lewisham does have its downsides).

Anonymous said...

I think Brockleys biggest negative compared to ED is its long depressingly hideous high street. There isnt one obvious area of focus where retailers would be likely to open attracting a regular footfall. The high street stretches from Brockley Cross and around the station, with a gap until after the Esso, another gap until you reach Crofton Park. Its too long (almost a mile!) with not enough of a concentration in any one area. Hopefully the area around the station with Ecosium/SOTH/Degustation/DandelionBlue will become the central focus going foward. I think the Christmas markets there were lovely.

Headhunter said...

I like living up in Manor Ave, I often walk home from New Cross station if there are no trains from central London to Brockers direct - it's only about 10 mins walk and only 1 stop from London Br. I also walk or cycle to Tesco Lewisham, Sainsbury's New Cross or Asda on OKR so kinda prefer being up that end of Brockley rather than down at the Ladywell end

JPM said...

The future in Brockley Conservation Area will be "reconversion" - flats in the same building into a house.

There are benefits to 'buying out' the neighbour (above or below you, or above and below) that are not immediately obvious.

These are the savings:

i. No council tax during conversion on flats in the building (up to a year, or until converted).

ii. No estate agents fees.

iii. The building site is in your control. (Though I don't know if this is a plus but it can be a saving as you can watch those rascal builders.)

iv. Removal costs.

v. Stamp duty.

The extra floor may cost (say) £200k. There is the additional saving on stamp duty. (If the reinstated property was valued at over £500k, then that amounts to £20K stamp duty, a saving of £18k given the £2k stamp duty on the £200K flat is all you pay.)

vi. Easier mortgage facility. A bank will take the equity in your first property as a deposit and look favourably on the proposal. (Hopefullyy... this was prior to Northern Rock.)

The additional benefit is that you are unlikely to get gazumped, whilst your neighbour(s)also has an idea of what to spend, and when.

That's what we did. But I can't say it was by any means cheap in the first instance due to the size of the project and the 'need' to acquire it.

If you do reconvert... keep two boilers in and retain the electricity/gas meters. (These work as a backup when things go wrong.)

But what if you can't afford to buy out the neighbour just yet?

Well, if you think that Brockley's on the up, which I do (with the caveat "educated guess")- then be bold. Buy-to-let until conversion. (Forward planning for those couples just setting out.)

Of course it does pay to have an exit stratagey, and that's a whole house. (So don't take as long as I've done.) Failing that, be content in the knowledge that you have a house at a much cheaper entry level than those pioneers to follow in 2010.

ElijahBailey said...

Is reconversion actually doable? Don't you just end up with a mess of a disjointed house?

Headhunter said...

Personally I'm happy with the flat - a whole house in the conservation area would be way too big and a hassle to keep clean!

JPM said...

Elijah, on the contrary, it's a lot of the conversions (so called) that are the mess.

Because of the slapdash way these properties were converted, prior to planning and building control, it's a reconvert's dream. Often nothing more is needed than knocking down a wall between the doors of the flats. (You probably need to rewire the main hallway. But really, with the right properties, it's as small as it's long.) And you don't need council permission.

JPM said...

It's funny you should say that, Headhunter... it does have its downside.

ElijahBailey said...

Hmmm that would certainly explain the seemingly random placement of a (n original) supporting wall within my flat.

JPM said...

Ermm...My My MY Elijah, please DO NOT remove that seemingly random placement. At last not unil your neighbours have gone. And make sure you're wearing a hard hat. (Failing that, bring in the professionals.)

Monkeyboy said...

My little terrace was two flats, the guy before me turned it back into a house - not very expertly. You could see where a bathroom used to be tacked onto the back of the kitchen before I knocked it through, presumably for the downstairs flat.

I'm sure your house is OK elijabailey...just don't slam any doors too hard!

ElijahBailey said...

JPM don't worry there is no way I would do that!!! I realise the difference and implications for structural stability that solid walls and hollow walls have. This one just juts out awkwardly because it is having the support all that is above.

Talking of solid walls I do see what you mean about the (relative) ease of re-conversion. If I can take it that hollow sounding walls are there for partitioning purpose, and not for holding the house up, then you are right it does seem easy. Just had a tap around the place and I can see how it wouldn't actually make a mess of things.

Headhunter said...

THere are certainly plenty of conversions and conversions back into houses going on. Friends of mine have a house in Streatham which was originally 2 little flats. They still get junk mail etc to the previous inhabitants of flat A and flat B

Graeme said...

JPM - I was a pioneer in 1997 and I'm still waiting for this place to get its act together!

Brockley needs its very own version of 'DulwichMum'. A satirical blog by a fictional character (A 6ft retired brickie from Penge in reality. Hmmm.)

What's a stereotypical character from SE4? A dishevelled and drunken academic from Goldsmith's?

Kate said...

Can you lot please stop giving EB ideas? Or else I'll return home to discover that my lovely flat has turned into a pile of rubble ...

nicola name said...

completely agree with JPM re conversions BACK being the way ahead.

the biggest shortage in this country not to mention london is HOUSES. while you often actually get more usable space in a flat, we Brits seem to love houses and our own front door.

our homes are indeed our castles.

long street problems with brockley i agree.

Nick, you are SO right - there needs to be a supply of 3 bedders that families can aspire to - don't forget one parent won't be able to wrk for while if there ware children or of course if both do work, joint disposable income much reduced by childcare.

the 3 bedders beocme purhcasers of bigger houses once they've saved a bit more

Though quite frankly with stamp duty at the level it is, it is just an evil tax on londoners. what on earth does the govt add to anyone's purchase of a house that they deserve a slice of it??? it makes my blood boil. plenty of time time buyers save their deposit, get all excited and then realise they cannot afford the damn stamp duty!

Bea said...

There seems to be a ton of conversions / house improvement works going on in the Conservation area. I counted five skips on Tressillian alone over the weekend. I’m sure I’ve read somewhere that skips outside houses which are being converted from flats to houses again are a sign of an up-and-coming area.

Re the houses at the end of Breakspears - yes loads of them are sold - and at a very fancy price to my mind. But then I think they are top spec inside - Smeg everything!

nicola name said...

oh dear sorry about all those typos. that previous post didn't make much sense even to me when I reread it.

I think I was saying: Brockley's great and stamp duty isn't....

nicola name said...

hello Bea. :-)

JPM, re the flat in your road, it's not cheap but these new done places are always really expensive as they attract cash rich time poor purchasers...a highly desirable client!

dare I say this:

we need a FOXTONS

i'm taking cover now.

brocklbank said...

Brokcley most certainly does not need a DulwichMum. Christ that "satirical" blog winds me up something. Sort of humour that appeals to people who like My Family and Vicar of Dibley.

Tom said...

People that like Foxtons look like this.

ElijahBailey said...

ED has one of those God awful Foxton bars. What kinda sad tosser drinks in those!?

nicola name said...

jpm! that's hilarious - the guy is quite pleased with himself isn't he?

nicola name said...

meant to say, tom not jpm.

brain gone this pm

Anonymous said...

The rate of gentrification of Lordship Lane has thrown Cafe Nero and a mental health centre alongside one another.

So says Tom, who, to my mind, sees the former as a sign of gentrification and the latter as a remnant of older, darker days. Tom would be minded to know that poor mental health is not the domain of the poor, and latte-ignorant.

Tom said...

Anonymous @ 16.43: You can keep your accusations and presumptions to yourself thank you!

The point I was trying to make is that Lordship Lane was recently (within my stay in the area) rather run down, meaning that rents were low.

Low rents meant that 'premium' high street space could be taken by facilities that do not need such high foot fall (particularly as the mental health centre is not well signed).

The economic situation is rather different, but recent history leads to a curious juxtaposition that is so characteristic of London.

It is just economics am afraid, not prejudice!

Tom said...

And Nicola ... glad you liked the picture. He has been photoshopped many times by those curious folk on b3ta.

Re Foxtons, the only distinctive service they seem to offer is charging double the fees for doing the same sales job, whilst irritating people for being unbearably smug.

nicola name said...

Tom, haha, you're forgetting those little fat green racing minis....

Tom said...

Yes, those minis indicate an estate agent with a high cost base.

In the US 'realtors' typically charge a 6% fee. Presumably they drive round in Hummers ...

JPM said...

I won't hear one bad word said against Foxtons - where 'many' will do.

The other problems with conversion back to a house?

The TV Licencing people keep turning up threatening you, and even issue a court summons. Their records are never updated (seemingly) and they will not stop until you get a licence for flats that no longer exist in your now single dwelling.

'Oh... this is a house,' the last bruiser said.

Y-e-s...

Anonymous said...

This is why I think Westside is such a good area to buy. There are more houses per sq metre than the conservation area, and yet at a silly premium. I bought my 4 bed house when it was flats and it's been really easy to turn back into a house - (It's easier to turn it back to a house than the other way round). Brockley needs families to move in if it gets the easy dulwich treatment and families want houses, period.

And preferably period houses...

jon s said...

East Dulwich is a nice place.... but... Flats can be OK for gentrification, you just get a different type of gentrification. A better comparison than ED (post tube) would be Belsize Park / Primrose Hill. ED (and soon Forest Hill, Crystal Palace) are more Clapham spillover, where as Brockers is more urban bottom up growth.

In Belsize Park / Primrose Hill, most families (and young professionals) live in flats around Englands Lane, and are a stones throw from Camden. The flats are similar to the conservation area flats.

Anonymous said...

Bottom up growth? I'd see a doctor if I were you

snorky said...

As ex Se4 / now ED residentm, I just have to say that Ed does indeed wee on Brockley in most areas.

The only areas I can see where it does have an outstyanding advatange is the housing stock in Se4 - not that its very affordale now ( or has been for a few years )

Brockers doesnt / will never have decent resturants or bars cos its a conservation areas - thats fine if you want to trundle around your big old house on a quiet streeet for the rest of your days, but its nice to have facilities within easy walking distance

The horror of a night out in lewisham is probabaly matched by a trip into peckham for comparison

One of the downers about Ed is the amount of Clapham breeding age scum moving in with their precocious expensively dressed offspring.

but its hard to avouid this fil the these days seeing as it about 10 mins into the city for their city parasite husbands.

Snorky has left the building

Headhunter said...

It always amuses me the number of people who refer to "City scum" and how they don't want these sorts in Brockley (or East Dulwich). Who do you think these big houses were built for in the first place in the late 19th century? scruffy students from the local art college and single mothers looking for social housing??! If you look at Booths map of poverty in London, the conservation area was populated by exactly that - wealthy, probably City, families. Brockley is simply returning to its roots.

As for Brockers being a conservation area, it's certainly not all conservation area and there's plenty of space for more shops and restaurants

Anonymous said...

Brockley returning to its roots...

We just have to work out what is the modern day equivalent of shoveling horseshit all day.

Then snorky will know his place.

Brockley Nick said...

@Anon - as a PR professional, I wouldn't begin to know the answer to that question.

Anonymous said...

returning to our roots indeed -- but in diced-up flats, not lovely spacious houses... *sigh*
this means that city types move in for a while, grow up a bit, acquire a family and/or lots of stuff, & then move to Lee/HG/etc where they can afford a house.

Snorky said...

I never called them city scum, I called them city parasites.

I had better be careful or I may have the brockley Society enforcers on my disrespektful ass.yo bludz

I dont have a beef ( or textured quorn substitute ) with SE4, but having a choice of a promenade down to Lewisham for a quiet meal and a fight or LL for the same without the assault, I know which one I would go for

Snorky knows his place and SE4 is a temporary resting place on the road to settling down.

Headhunter said...

But there's an increasing trend to re-convert some of the big houses into houses again. Anyway flats don't necessarily mean people passing through either, A woman in a flat next door to me has lived on Manor Ave in her flat for nearly 20 years, and there's another woman down the road who has lived there for about 15.

Tom said...

Suspect that snorky has found his or her place ... se4 types are that much more genteel.

I've made the move the other way and now can't seem to find a reason to go back.

Maybe the schools might do it, but that's not a consideration for me just yet ...

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