London homebuyers live in Herne Hill

For Lottie Mills, a move to Herne Hill nine months ago revolved around Brockwell Park, the 50-acre rolling green space in a south-east London suburb. She rents a house with her brother on a street adjacent to the park and is a member of the lido that was built in 1937.

“I lived in [nearby] Camberwell, but find Herne Hill much more homey – the Lido café is very sociable,” says the 31-year-old, who works for a cybersecurity start-up. “There are a lot of people my age living here and there are great little bars and cafes.”

The area had been more of a low-key residential part of London until it was reported that former Prime Minister Boris Johnson was also making the brief move from Camberwell to Herne Hill. Herne Hill (postcode SE24) is quieter than Brixton, yet not quite as fashionable as neighboring Dulwich, where the average house price is £1.5m, according to Hamptons, 15 per cent higher than the £1.31m in Herne Hill usage of land register data.

The cheaper housing, good schools, green space and connections – Herne Hill is 16 minutes by train from the City of London – attract professionals including medical professionals from nearby King’s College Hospital. In 1885, writer John Ruskin, a former resident after whom the area’s other large park is named, described it as “a rustic rise four miles south of the standard at Cornhill [a City distance marker]“.

Over the past three years, house prices have risen more slowly than in Dulwich Village — by 7 percent and 19 percent, respectively — but some homes in streets in the Dulwich Village Infants’ School and Dulwich Hamlet Junior catchment areas have risen more.

A two-bedroom apartment with a roof terrace, £585,000

On Stradella Road, a double-fronted property due to be completed shortly for £4million is its highest-ever sale, according to Christopher Burton of broker Knight Frank, following a sale of a similarly sized house for £3.55m in late 2021. Burbage and Winterbrook Roads are also highly sought-after: in the latter, a five-bedroom house sold for £2.55m last year – up 21 per cent for which it changed hands in 2018.

However, it is possible that no more records will be set for the time being. Agents are reporting a drop in valuation requests and that properties have been pulled from sale over the past week as both sellers and buyers hold back amid rising interest rates, withdrawn mortgage products and worsening inflation.

In the North Dulwich Triangle – between Herne Hill Road, Half Moon Lane and Red Post Hill – demand was driven by Charter School North Dulwich, a state alternative to the independent secondary schools of JAGS, Alleyn’s and Dulwich College. “We have families from Battersea, Fulham and Islington moving from a £1.1-1.5million two or three-bedroom property to a £1.7million-£2.75million five-bedroom house in Herne Hill ‘ says Burton.

Matt Briggs, a Charter School parent, lives in the Triangle – his fourth home in the area. “It’s just a very family place. Both of our boys went to the same elementary school as me [Dulwich Hamlet] and sharing the same parks, there’s a great sense of continuity – although the pubs have gotten a little fancier,” says Briggs, a party wall consultant.

Map of Herne Hill, London

His French wife Severine works at Judith Kerr Primary School, an English-German bilingual school. It’s common to hear French voices in the Brockwell Park playground – and there’s a French kindergarten, École Cadet Rousselle. This and the relaxed liberal atmosphere are an “extra bonus”, says David from Paris, who had rented in Islington with his wife Maya. You bought a three-room apartment last summer and at the same time had a daughter.

“We fell in love with Herne Hill while looking for a greener area. Connectivity was key, as was stamp duty reduction [at the time]says David, who works in the energy industry and prefers not to give his last name.

Some of the area’s cheaper homes are near the Judith Kerr School in Delawyk Crescent, built in the 1960s. A three bedroom townhouse could cost around £700,000. Towards Brixton there is “Poet’s Corner” – Milton, Chaucer, Shakespeare and Spenser Roads. There, a three-bedroom terraced house costs about £1m, according to Winkworth’s Douglas Bernard, who says young professionals who love being close to the train station often find it difficult to make the leap from a £450,000-550,000 flat to a £500,000 flat to create house. “They will then move to cheaper areas like Crystal Palace, Catford or Norwood,” he says.

According to Hamptons, the cost of housing has fallen by 7.8 per cent over the past 12 months, with the average price now standing at £472,840. “Apartments with no outdoor space struggle – even ones with a new kitchen or bathroom,” says Bernard.

It can be difficult to find a rental home on a main street. “Families will find more opportunities in Dulwich,” she says. But for Lottie Mills, neither Dulwich Park nor East Dulwich’s prolific cafes and restaurants hold as much appeal. “I’ve lived in a few places now and think Brockwell is the best park in London.”

shopping guide

  • A train from Herne Hill to London Victoria takes 13 minutes, to City Thameslink 16 minutes; Brixton is the nearest tube station.

  • In 2022, according to the Hamptons/Land Registry, 53 percent of real estate sales were apartments; 32 per cent of homes sold cost over £1m.

What you can buy. . .

A two bedroom flat, £585,000

A two bedroom apartment with a private roof terrace close to Brockwell Park (Oliver Burn).

House, £1.7m

A four bedroom semi detached house in the North Dulwich Triangle (Knight Frank).

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