Streets of London: North Cross Road, SE22

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Jumbo buggies, chi-chi shops and a lively market are making this East Dulwich enclave a desirable location for south London families

  • Streets of London: North Cross Road, SE22

    North Cross Road: take a seat outside the Blue Mountain Café

  • Previously merely a tributary to East Dulwich’s busy high street Lordship Lane, North Cross Road has been steadily establishing a character and community all of its own. Sit outside the Blue Mountain Coffee shop (No 22) on a Saturday morning when the diminutive market is in full swing and you’re guaranteed to catch everyone who lives in SE22 strolling past at some point.

    Sadly, rising rents have driven out the old-school barber, shoemender and fried chicken emporium, but at the same time have fostered the conversion of previously dormant shop spaces into a retro sweetshop (Hope & Greenwood, No 20 ); a boutique-style beauty shop (Dr Boo, No 18); a fancy shoe shop (Stella b, No 51) ; a children’s bookshop (The Neverending Story, No 59); a pretty florist (The Fresh Flower Company, No 39a); a gastropub (The Palmerston, at the junction with Lordship Lane) and two new art galleries (Space Station 65 at No 65 and Licht affen at No 9).

    These join well-worn East Dulwich favourites such as Blue Mountain, eclectic gift shop Grace and Favour (No 35), greengrocer Pretty Traditional (No 47), and one of London’s tiniest restaurants, the Thai Corner Café (No 44). The busy Friday/Saturday market brings food stalls, crafts, CDs and vintage clothing to the mix.

    With this quaint shopping scene taking hold, houses are getting rarer on North Cross Road itself and one estate agent told us flats to rent in the area are in such demand that they are gone in just a couple of days. The housing-to-retail ratio is more favourable the further from Lordship Lane you look. On the other side of Crystal Palace Road, where North Cross becomes Upland Road, prices are better and residential properties more plentiful as full-scale gentrification has yet to set in – witness an organic babywear shop opposite a greasy spoon. Most of the residential stock is in the quieter roads off North Cross – Fellbrigg, Ulverscroft, Lacon, Archdale, Nutfield, Shawbury, Hansler and Bawdale – standard Victorian terraces, three-bedrom houses and two-bed conversion flats.

    ‘We moved here eight years ago and it was very different then,’ says local resident Susannah Stone, who lives in a converted shop with her two children. ‘Lordship Lane was quite gloomy but there was still something special about the area – there were lots of characters who had lived here all their lives. It’s definitely got more lively, but it’s maintained its villagey quality. It has a lovely atmosphere and a really mixed community – the Imam from the local mosque brings round food during festivals. It’s a great place to bring up children.’

    Though there are still a few signs of the rougher East Dulwich of the past, the area feels incredibly safe and friendly, with an overwhelming sense of community. The area even has its own micro mag, the monthly SE22, distributed free in local shops.

    As the area has gentrified, so have the house prices; three-bed houses now fetch £100,000 more than five years ago but there is still some decrepit housing stock waiting to be done up for those with an eye for a bargain. You’ll also notice a lot of loft conversions underway – people love living here and when they often can’t afford to move to the next size up, they’ll do what they can to stay.

    Estate agents

    A selection of many, all on Lordship Lane:

    Acorn Estate Agents
    (020 8516 3666/ www.acorn.ltd.uk).
    Bushells
    (020 8299 6066/ www.bushells.com/11825).
    Haart
    (020 8299 3728/www.haart.co.uk).
    Halifax
    (020 8299 3711/www.halifax.co.uk/estateagency).
    Ludlow Thompson
    (020 8299 8777/www.ludlowthompson.com).
    Property In
    (020 8693 8000/www.propertyin.com).
    Winkworth
    (020 8299 2722/ www.winkworth.co.uk).

    Transport

    East Dulwich station is an eight-minute walk away for trains to London Bridge. Also served by the 176, 185, 40 and 12 bus routes for links with Elephant & Castle, Victoria and the West End.

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