One of the things the pandemic taught us is the importance of a great local high street; somewhere to enliven weekly shopping trips and — as the world reopened — provide us with places to eat and drink, and give us an excuse to get out of the house.
This year the Evening Standard’s New Homes Awards features developments in a great range of London neighbourhoods and commuter towns.
Some are mini town centres in their own right, while others are quieter. Some are upscale, others more everyday. But whatever your preference, in or around London there is certain to be a high street to suit you.
Nunhead, south-east London
Why we love it: Yes, Nunhead has become a bit of a property hotspot in recent years, but Nunhead Green has so far resisted the march of the chain stores. Locals can drink at the Old Nun’s Head, get in a good breakfast at Goodcup, shop at fishmonger FC Soper, and have a look around Alkemi for interiors inspiration.
It is a quieter, more residential, grown-up alternative to neighbouring Peckham, and Nunhead Cemetery is a surprisingly peaceful place for a walk.
What it could do better: The pandemic has left some casualties in the form of empty shops crying out to be put to use as pop-up stores.
Need to know: Trains to Victoria or Blackfriars take less than 20 minutes.
Harringay Green Lanes, north London
Why we love it: There is nowhere in the capital quite like Green Lanes. It’s a vibrant, fun, one-off, which brings a taste of West Asia to the city.
The street is the heartland of London’s Turkish community, and its many restaurants are packed every night of the week. Throw in venues like Jam In A Jar, which offers live music and a Brazilian-inspired menu; traditional pubs such as the Salisbury; and cafés including Music & Beans, and you have a truly global experience. There’s also nearby green space in the shape of Ducketts Common and Finsbury Park.
What it could do better: There are some basic convenience stores, interesting Turkish delis and gold jewellery shops but there could be a better range of everyday outlets. Street cleaning doesn’t meet the challenge of all those restaurants on a relatively short stretch of road.
Need to know: Green Lanes is served by Turnpike Lane and Manor House Tube stations, and Harringay and Harringay Green Lanes train stations, so there are plenty of ways to get into town.
Richmond, south-west London
Why we love it: If you like your London villages green and serene, with fantastic transport links, the chance to spot deer in Richmond Park and a safe, affluent yet buzzy vibe, then Richmond could be the one.
Its de facto high street is the A307 and — along with regularly gridlocked traffic — you will find a pretty comprehensive range of upscale chain restaurants, as well as local legends such as The Fat Badger with its sustainable, seasonal menu and amazing cocktails, and the Gallic charm of Chez Lindsay.
What it could do better: The area around the station is looking very dreary — things only start to get better as you go towards the river — and this gateway to Richmond needs some urgent upgrading. If many more chain stores pop up, Richmond will be in danger of losing its unique character.
Need to know: Fast trains to Waterloo take around 20 minutes and services run until gone midnight.
For sale: Richmond Square is a development centred around three period townhouses beside a courtyard garden. Modern penthouses and loft apartments are being built alongside and are due to complete next year. Prices start at £595,000 for a studio flat, and from £845,000 for a two-bedroom apartment (richmondsq.co.uk).
Why we love it: It’s right in the High Weald, which means there is lovely countryside all around. And Cranbrook is a town with a tremendous amount going on — think a sports centre, rugby club, comedy club and schools that families move miles for.
The high street has all the basics, plus sophisticated interiors stores, boutiques, cafés and restaurants. The area’s mix of weatherboarded and part-timbered buildings are charming.
What it could do better: There are pubs, but not great ones. This is the kind of place that could do with a really elevated gastropub — and far more parking spaces too.
Need to know: Staplehurst station is a 15-minute drive away, but traffic can be heavy. Trains to Cannon Street take just under an hour.
For sale: A mile’s walk from the centre of Cranbrook sits Farmstead at Tannersbrook, a collection of traditional-style houses in a country setting. Prices start at £595,000 for a three-bedroom house, and £695,000 for a four-bedroom house (farmsteadtannersbrook.co.uk).
Tunbridge Wells, Kent
Why we love it: The heart of this Georgian spa town is lovely to look at, and nowhere is its charm greater than in The Pantiles. Well-heeled Regency ladies and gentlemen would visit here to take the waters.
Today, The Pantiles is a pedestrianised street, where you can listen to live music at The Grey Lady and explore art galleries and antique shops. There are also cafés, restaurants and pubs, with people spilling out onto the pavement.
Elsewhere in the town there are more places to eat and drink — including outposts of London chains such as The Ivy and Gail’s Bakery — plus parks and commons providing peaceful oases of green, open space in every direction.
What it could do better: There’s a bit of a north-south divide in Tunbridge Wells. The north side of the town centre is a real clone town with far too many basic chains. The south end is much more vibrant, with great independent shops and regular farmers’ markets to keep things interesting.
Need to know: Trains to either Cannon Street or Charing Cross take just under an hour.
For sale: Forest Gate House is a boutique development of apartments a mile and a half south-west of the centre of town, and on the fringes of the High Weald. Prices start at £350,000 for a one-bedroom flat, and £475,000 for a two-bedroom apartment (batchellermonkhouse.com).
Join us at the New Homes Awards 2023
The 32nd annual New Homes Awards will take place at The Dorchester Hotel on the 29th September 2023 to celebrate innovation and excellence in today’s new homes.
For more information and to book your seat at the awards call 01993 670200 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Last day to book your seat: 22nd September 2023
Find out more: homesandproperty.co.uk/nha