Ed Mead

The truth about Camberwell – is Boris’s old haunt worth investing in?

The truth about Camberwell – is Boris's old haunt worth investing in?
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Like other areas of London, Camberwell suffered from having much of its modern town planning done by the Luftwaffe. As the original bridges over the Thames were built, particularly Blackfriars in the 18th century, the roads leading to them, wide and quiet, became lined with handsome Georgian and Regency houses. Victorian fillers came later along with grids of basic but reasonable housing for the many labour intensive businesses springing up.

Modern Camberwell has become aligned with artists, perhaps trendily missing out on the over gentrification affecting some near SW postcode neighbours. That is a polite way of saying that it was one of those places that, when I started in the property business in the late 70s, would have raised eyebrows if someone with a choice decided to go and live there. Some had the last laugh with one friend in particular renting a detached Georgian house, which was then bought and is still owned. £20 per week rent has turned to £2m.

Post war changes have meant, whilst an edgy choice, it has never been a go to family destination (although it has seen some overspill from the increasingly family-orientated Peckham Rye). For students and young single workers it has always been a touch short on tube stations.

Camberwell residents might jealously glance at investment uplifts created by major infrastructure upgrades in Stratford, Acton and Nine Elms – especially as a Victoria Line extension has been mooted for years. Perhaps with the PM keeping his property there it’ll be further to the fore in his mind, he does seem keen on infrastructure spending.

Families venturing there have always found relative value, which might explain why one Alexander Johnson, not perhaps in the fittest of financial health, decided it made sense in 2019. He should do OK on the rental even if a gross yield of just over 3 per cent won’t be solving his conundrum anytime soon. Given he looks to be incumbent in No. 10 for several years to come it will save the not insubstantial costs of maintaining an empty property.

Does the Prime Minister's stamp of approval mean it’s an area worth investing in? Prices haven’t really shifted there in five years, but the PMs touch seems to work here with bigger houses advancing fastest. If you are considering your property as an investment then the last few years have taught us values can go down; for me resisting falls is as important as seeking gains. Given the patchy buyer demographic I can’t help feeling there are better hedges – but for some, edginess is what they are looking for and Camberwell will continue to deliver.