South Norwood is probably not the first place that springs to mind when you’re thinking about where to buy a home.
But with new pubs, shops and businesses setting up shop over the past three years and more exciting developments on the horizon, it’s not hard to see why house prices in the area have been rising as more and more people realise it is a place on the up. Property prices in South Norwood have increased by 3% in the last 18 months, meaning the average home in the area is now worth about £10,000 more than it was in March 2016, according to data collected by Zoopla. The average two-bedroom house in South Norwood will now set you back £379,991, with this figure jumping to £484,376 for a three-bedroom house – while the average monthly rental prices for one and two-bedroom flats are £1,220 and £1,459 respectively.
Explaining why the area has become something of a property hot spot over the past few years, a spokesman for Townends estate agents said: “South Norwood is a popular location for families, first-time buyers and commuters, which means there is a fantastic mix of individuals who make up the vibrant local community. It’s still one of the best value-for-money locations in the South East of England, and it’s attractive to buyers as there are many excellent transport options in the area.” He added: “There is also a choice of Ofsted-ranked schools in the area, with many in a three-mile radius rated as ‘outstanding’, which appeals to parents. The ongoing regeneration project aims to increase pedestrian priority, providing safer crossing points and more open spaces, so this improved access makes South Norwood more attractive to potential buyers and tenants.” New pavements, trees, seating, and public art are being installed as part of the £1.6 million public realm project to revamp Station Road and Market Parade
Hamida Ali, who represents Woodside, has been involved with the regeneration and said she has seen the schemes make a “real difference” to South Norwood’s reputation. “There has always been a strong sense of pride in the area, but a lot of residents expressed frustrations in the past that the area was not living up to its full potential,” she explained. People looked north to Crystal Palace and wondered why their neighbourhood wasn’t undergoing the same growth or seeing the same successes. South Norwood has always had great schools, green spaces and transport links but concerns were raised about the state of Portland Road and the number of empty shops. Although the regeneration to address these issues has been quite slow, I can see a real difference being made already in terms of how South Norwood is perceived, which has driven businesses to invest in the area and people to invest in property here. We have, like the rest of the borough, suffered from a negative perception both in London and further afield, but people are now realising what a fabulous place Croydon is to live.” She added: “Members of the community are enthusiastic about where they live and this positive energy has led to a genuine and string interest in making it a better place. This, in turn, has had a direct impact on business and property prospects in South Norwood – the changes are the result of the power of the community. If you ask anyone who works in Croydon Council’s offices where they live or where they’d most like to live in the borough, they’ll probably say South Norwood.”
As for how businesses in the area have reacted to the regeneration, Cllr Ali cited the fact that two new pubs – namely the Portland Arms and Shelverdene Goathouse – have opened in the district centre in the past three years. A new independent coffee outlet, called Café Mimosa, has also set up shop this year with owner Gary Thomas saying the chance to open a shop on Station Road was “just too good a chance to miss”, while a once-vacant unit on Portland Road has become FishPort fishmongers. Three pop-up shops were additionally opened on Portland Road by Croydon Council last year, with the local authority paying a year’s rent for the Elizabeth James Art Gallery, Gamma Proforma and Next Step Fashion. Cllr Ali said that all three businesses have now shown their intent to continue renting the units.
Looking to the future of the area, a Domino’s is opening before the end of 2017, and Costa Coffee opening a new branch in January 2018. The ventures by the two chains are set to bring a total of 33 full-time jobs to the area. Two stallholders at the South Norwood’s Clocktower Market, which has been running for about two years, are additionally looking to open shops in the new year. Larger-scale developments which have been given the go-ahead in are area recently are Crystal Palace’s huge revamp of Selhurst Park, which was announced on Monday (December 4), and a new £500,000 library.
Addressing concerns about whether South Norwood could fall victim to gentrification as a result of these developments, Cll Ali said: “At the council level, there is a real focus on this growth being accessible – meaning that we want to try and keep some space in the area for ages as well as those who are new and possibly young buyers. When an area undergoes a lot of regeneration, there is always a chance house and rent prices will be driven up from affordable to unaffordable – but it’s vital that everyone is included in the growth of the area and that its rich history and heritage is not pushed to one side. People like to see positive change in their area, but not at the expense of being priced out of their own community. We are in the process of exploring what can be done in the way of carving out some space for – perhaps converting a vacant shop front into a free community facility and having affordable flats above it. We know this is ambitious, but it is so important that as the area grows in popularity, we ensure this growth is as inclusive as possible.” She added: “We want Croydon to be the next Fulham – a place where long-term residents can stay and flourish as it develops.”