The hipster capital of south London, Peckham is often referred to these days as the new Shoreditch, its super-cool credentials cemented by the rooftop bar, arts events, classical concerts and Derek Jarman-inspired “seaside garden” at its now-famous multi-storey car park.
Then there are the local community groups raising money for projects as varied as rescuing a buried lido to opening up a new walking route alongside a neglected railway line.
Over the last 30 years Peckham has seen more action than most London districts have seen in a century. Plans to run the Channel Tunnel rail line through the neighbourhood blighted some of its loveliest streets for years, while waves of immigration brought families from the Caribbean and Africa.
Students from art colleges in Camberwell and New Cross stayed because rents were cheap, and regeneration brought a new library designed by top architect Will Alsop, bollards by artist Antony Gormley, mural mosaics by Tom Phillips and lamp posts designed by fashion designer Zandra Rhodes in her signature pink.
Now a younger generation has grasped the baton, with the conversion of the disused Eighties concrete multi-storey car park off Rye Lane into a major arts venue.
The summer programme of visual arts, literature, theatre, music, food and drink is curated by art gallery owner Hannah Barry through her commissioning group Bold Tendencies, while up on the 10th floor, the rooftop Frank’s Café, a magical place to watch the sun go down, is run by Frank Boxer, scion of the famous foodie family headed by his grandmother, the food writer Arabella Boxer.
Next door the enormous Victorian Bussey Building is a hive of artistic and creative activity and its rooftop bar and cinema rivals Frank’s for views and sunsets.
Away from the multicultural hustle and bustle of Rye Lane, independent shops, cafés and restaurants are thriving in the side streets and along quieter Bellenden Road.
Estate agent Jason Davis, of the local Kinleigh Folkard & Hayward branch, says there is now a buzz around the generally cheaper area north of Queens Road, with long-term plans for an extension of the Bakerloo line along Old Kent Road with a station at the junction with Asylum Road.
Peckham is only four miles south-east of central London, with Walworth and Elephant and Castle to the north, New Cross to the east, East Dulwich to the south and Camberwell to the west.
The area boasts fine Georgian houses in Peckham Rye, flat-fronted early Victorian terrace houses large and small, roads of Victorian bow-fronted terrace houses — some of them converted into flats — plus warehouse conversions, modern apartments and estates of social housing.
The largest scheme on the horizon is the redevelopment of the Aylesham Centre, the run-down shopping centre and car park in Rye Lane. A planning application for new shops and 1,000 flats is expected this year. Locals fear rooftop views may be lost.
Elsewhere, Gus Zogolovitch, son of architect Roger Zogolovitch, runs Inhabit Homes, which had the idea of building new homes and selling them as watertight shells which buyers then fit out for themselves.
In Blenheim Grove, in the Holly Grove conservation area, Inhabit will be building three houses and four flats, designed by local architects Poulsom Middlehurst. Owners will be free to fit out as they like, although Inhabit will be on hand to help if needed.
A two-bedroom house is available at £650,000, with a four-bedroom house at £979,995. The two-bedroom flats are £549,995. The fit-outs cost extra. Building work is due to start in October and the homes will be ready next spring. Call 020 7234 0862.
Peckham’s largest current development is Wood’s Road off Queens Road, where developer Crest Nicolson is building 122 one-, two- and three-bedroom flats, including 39 affordable homes. Prices start at £455,000 for one-bedroom flats, with two-bedroom flats from £555,000 and three-bedroom homes from £590,000. Sales are currently off-plan with the first residents moving in next March. Call 020 3437 1270.
The Catcher Building is the conversion of a fine Art Deco building in Rye Lane. Situated above KFC, the 31 studios, one-, two- and three-bedroom flats and a penthouse will be ready before Christmas. Prices of the remaining homes start from £299,950 for a studio and £325,000 for a one-bedroom flat. Visit thecatcherbuildingSE15.com or call Fraser & Co (020 7723 5645) or Brunsfield (020 3601 7676).
Athenay Villas in Athenay Road, Nunhead, a development of nine four-bedroom Victorian-style houses by Empyrean, will be ready to move into this month. Four houses remain, and these are priced from £925,000. Call Pedder New Homes on 020 7738 6839 for details.
The Old Bank, on the corner of Peckham Rye and East Dulwich Road, is the conversion of a former bank building into seven flats, and is already complete. Two duplexes remain, each with two bedrooms, priced £674,950 through Winkworth (020 8299 2722).
Help to Buy is available on 85 per cent of the flats in Crest Nicholson’s Wood’s Road scheme (as before). There are also 29 shared-ownership flats available there through Hyde Housing (0800 3282 282).
237-247 Rye Lane is a Metropolitan housing association development of 27 one-, two- and three-bedroom flats with shops or restaurants on the ground floor. Twenty-two of the flats will be available for shared ownership and residents are expected to move in during October next year. Call 020 3535 2555.
Simone Young, lettings director at Kinleigh Folkard & Hayward, says most renters in Peckham are young professional sharers in their twenties and early thirties and in a lot of cases they can afford to outbid families.
Many are coming from areas such as Shoreditch and Dalston because they can get the same kind of inner-city vibe but with a smaller price tag.
Peckham is essentially a playground for the young. However, an increasing number of families are deciding to stay in the area, with nearby East Dulwich and Nunhead favourites with yummy mummies.
SE15 is the Peckham postcode although at the edges it strays into SE5, the Camberwell postcode, and SE22, the East Dulwich postcode.
Peckham Rye, Lyndhurst Way, Lyndhurst Square and Highshore Road. Choumert Square is not a square but a charming, flower-filled alleyway lined with tiny bijoux cottages where the owners celebrate their horticultural endeavours by opening every year for the National Gardens Scheme.
Up and coming
There are some lovely streets north of Queens Road and these are generally cheaper than those around Bellenden Road.
The two local stations, Peckham Rye and Queens Road, are both on the Overground with trains to Shoreditch High Street. Peckham Rye also has trains to Victoria in 13 minutes and 14-minute services to both Blackfriars and London Bridge.
Queens Road services to London Bridge take 10 minutes. Both stations are in Zone 2 and an annual travelcard to Zone 1 costs £1,296.
Southwark council is Labour controlled). Band D council tax for 2016/2017 is £1,206.38.
Shops and restaurants
Rye Lane is a busy high street with branches of Primark, Peacocks, Argos and Morrisons and plenty of shops that serve the Caribbean and African communities, including the much-loved Khan’s Bargain which stocks everything from fruit and vegetables to world foods, to garden supplies to electricals. John the Unicorn is a new addition, part of the Antic chain of shabby-chic pubs.
Over the last year there has been a spate of new openings where Rye Lane meets Peckham Rye: Pedler describes itself as a neighbourhood restaurant and bar, while Rosie’s Deli Café has expanded from its Brixton base.
There’s also coffee roaster Old Spike, Vietnamese eatery Bánh Bánh, well-reviewed by Evening Standard restaurant critic Fay Maschler in May, and Mr Bao, serving fashionable fluffy Taiwanese buns.
Elsewhere, Peckham Bazaar in Consort Road describes itself as a Pan-Balkan mezze and grill restaurant; Ganapati in Holly Grove specialises in South Indian food, and Persepolis in Peckham High Street is an Iranian food shop where the owner, cookery writer Sally Butcher, has opened a café.
Frank’s Café is the popular bar and restaurant on the top floor — the 10th — of Peckham multi-storey car park in Rye Lane.
Along quieter Bellenden Road, the atmosphere couldn’t be more different. There is an upmarket butcher Flock & Herd; delicatessen General Store; bookshop Review; independent coffee shop and restaurant Anderson & Co, Artusi, a restaurant specialising in food with an Italian twist, and popular Begging Bowl, an Asian restaurant.
Bar Storey is a bar in the railway arches under Peckham Rye station and the Refreshment Rooms nearby in Blenheim Grove serves fashionable small plates. Opposite is long-standing Italian restaurant, Il Giardino.
What the locals say on Twitter
The Boutros Boutros Ghali burger bar which refuses to have an online presence does the best cheeseburger in London
@artusipeckham on Bellenden Road should definitely be included, esp their £20 set menu on Sundays.
Great food at @PeckhamBazaar, obviously @frankspeckham for rooftop drinks in the summer
The kebab house on the corner of maxed rd bang on every time
At the centre of Peckham Rye there is a lovely restored Victorian park that boasts a manicured flower garden with rose pergolas and a Japanese garden. Locals recently crowd-funded over £63,000 for a feasibility study to reopen the lido that was closed and filled in during 1987.
Burgess Park between Peckham, Camberwell and Walworth has recently had an £8 million makeover.
Another group of residents recently crowd-funded nearly £76,000 to take forward the Peckham Coal Line, an idea for an elevated linear park along abandoned railway sidings that would link Queens Road with Peckham Rye.
Leisure and the arts
Bold Tendencies in the multi-storey car park in Rye Lane stages art installations, classical music concerts and poetry events. The Bussey Building, also in Rye Lane, is a hive of activity with a rooftop cinema, music, theatre and comedy.
Peckham Plex, in front of the multi-storey car park, is the local multiplex cinema.
South London Gallery in Peckham Road is a leading contemporary art gallery with a lovely café, a good place for weekend brunch.
The two nearest council-owned swimming pools are at Peckham Pulse Healthy Living Centre in Melon Road and Dulwich Leisure Centre in Crystal Palace Road.
Peckham has many state primary schools rated “good” by Ofsted. The following are rated “outstanding”: John Donne in Wood’s Road and Harris Primary Free School Peckham in Peckham Road, part of the Harris federation of 37 schools.
The following state secondary schools are rated “outstanding”: Harris Academy Peckham (co-ed, ages 11 to 18) in Peckham Road; St Thomas the Apostle RC (boys, ages 11 to 18) in Hollydale Road; Harris Boys’ Academy East Dulwich (ages 11 to 18) in Peckham Rye; Harris Girls’ Academy East Dulwich in Homestall Road; Haberdashers’ Aske’s Hatcham College (ages 11 to 18) in New Cross and the Charter School (co-ed, ages 11 to 18) in Dulwich.
The Villa (co-ed, ages three to seven) is a private nursery and pre-preparatory school in Lyndhurst Grove and Small Acres (co-ed, ages five to 11) in the Peckham Rye Adventure Playground is a small alternative play-based school.
Top schools in nearby Dulwich include Alleyn’s (co-ed, ages four to 18); James Allen’s Girls’ School (ages four to 18) and Dulwich College (boys, ages two to 18).