Drive around Wandsworth and mostly all you will see are streets of terraced Victorian houses. Arguably, Lambeth has more variety of architectural styles, from beautifully proportioned Thirties homes and much larger semidetached Edwardian villas in the south of the borough to Fifties housing stock, grand and elegant Georgian homes and a smattering of contemporary builds.
Certain streets stand out for their substantial family homes – such as Routh, Loxley and Herondale around Wandsworth Common, Thurleigh Road (which snakes up behind Nightingale Lane), the Heaver Estate edging Tooting Common, The Chase and Rodenhurst Road near Clapham Common. Not only are the houses here architectural gems, they also command high prices, in the £3.5 to £5 million bracket.
Elsewhere across Nappy Valley the average homeowner won’t get much change from £1.5 million for a family home. Soaring house prices in the capital have seen to that, coupled with a housing shortage not helped by developers “land banking” (sitting on land with planning permission) until land values rise. Housing is dense whichever borough you choose, with very little scope for new building. Developers do find the odd small infill site and squeeze in a modern dwelling but for the most part, the housing stock is period and there is very little purpose built. What lifts the entire area are the vast expanses of commons and parks that punctuate the tight grid of streets.
The standard three- and four-bed Victorian terraced houses in Nappy Valley are perfect starter family homes. A side return, loft conversion and basement follow later, once baby number one is on the way. No street is complete without a builder’s hoarding advertising that one of those three building projects is underway. Jonathan Dyson, Area Sales Director of Hamptons International, believes that those wanting to live south of the river fall into three main groups: people upgrading from a flat in Pimlico or Chelsea to a house; a similar number of predominantly French and Italian residents; and locals upgrading, who account for around 60% of purchasers.