Living in Bromley:area guide to homes, schools and transport links

With a surprisingly quick 20-minute commute into central London, Bromley is a big draw for families looking for affordable houses close to good schools.This south London town also has the advantage of being close to the countryside made famous by Charles Darwin (1809-82) who studied nature around Down House, his home for 40 years in the village of Downe.In Kent during Darwin’s lifetime, Downe has been part of Bromley borough since April 1965.Bromley town centre has undergone a recent facelift with a new ribbon of greenery and seating running down High Street and Market Square and the surrounding warren of small streets that make up Bromley North, designed by award-winning architects Studio Egret West.

 It has thrown into relief the town centre’s many fine buildings, and it is worth looking up to see what sits above the ground-floor shops.Some, such as the listed Royal Bell hotel in High Street, are the work of architect Ernest Newton, who built many houses in the Arts and Crafts style in nearby Bickley and Chislehurst. The Royal Bell is one of Bromley’s most important buildings.

With a long history as a coaching inn, an earlier building is name-checked in Jane Austen’s novel Pride and Prejudice.The current Jacobean-style building, with leaded lights and bow windows, was built in 1898, when Bromley was developing as a popular commuter town.Empty and semi-derelict for many years, it is on Historic England’s Heritage at Risk register. But new owners have planning permission to convert it into a boutique hotel with a craft beer pub, The Bell Tap, on part of the ground floor.

Further up the High Street is the Star & Garter, a listed Arts and Crafts pub that has benefited from a fresh lick of paint, and the pretty Art Deco cinema which reopened last June as a six-screen Picturehouse.For many centuries Bromley was linked with the Bishop of Rochester who had a palace there.In 1666, one such bishop, John Warner, endowed a home for “twenty poore widows of orthodox and loyall clergymen”.

Now a series of Grade I-listed buildings, Bromley and Sheppard’s Colleges on the corner of London Road and Tweedy Road is Bromley’s most notable and historic building.Still serving its original purpose, it contains 40 homes for retired vicars or their widows, some enjoying flats overlooking a red-brick courtyard with a picturesque colonnade, which until recently were thought to be the work of Sir Christopher Wren.

The Bishop’s Palace itself dates from a century later with extensive remodelling in the early 20th century by Arts and Crafts architects Richard Norman Shaw and local hero Ernest Newton.The building in Stockwell Close houses Bromley Civic Centre and a number of its historic rooms are popular places to get married.Bromley is 12 miles south-east of central London with Downham to the north, Chislehurst and Orpington to the east, Hayes and West Wickham to the south and Beckenham to the west.

The property scene

Families from areas closer to London who are looking to trade up from a flat to a house with a garden find Bromley a magnet, says sales director Emily Williams at the local Kinleigh Folkard & Hayward branch. “The drivers in Bromley are affordable family houses, good schools and the quick commute into central London.” The entry price for a three-bedroom terrace house is about £500,000. Bromley has a wide range of homes, everything from small Victorian cottages to large, detached, Edwardian houses; from Twenties detached houses to Thirties semis, period conversions and new-build flats.

 Here is Williams’s expert property guide to the different areas of Bromley: find Victorian houses and cottages in Bromley North Village, sometimes referred to as Old Town; large Edwardian houses in Sundridge Park; even larger detached houses in Bickley between Bromley and Chislehurst, and Victorian and Edwardian houses in Shortlands bordering Beckenham.

Then there are small Victorian terrace houses in Chatterton Village, south of the town centre; Twenties and Thirties terrace and semi-detached houses in the wide tree-lined streets of the Palace Estate close to Bromley South station; and finally there’s the triangle north of Westmoreland Road which is popular with parents who want to be in the Highfield primary school catchment area.One of the most expensive houses currently for sale is Crosshand House in Chislehurst Road, Bickley, designed by Ernest Newton. With nine bedrooms and 7,500sq ft, it’s on the market for £2.6 million. 

New-build homes

Bromley is embracing the idea promoted by the Mayor of London that the suburbs need to be building more town centre flats.On a former car park site, St Mark’s Square at the Bromley South end of the town centre has brought new flats, a cinema, a hotel, a new public square and restaurants.

The sloping roof adds a new dimension to the skyline and the shiny shapes adorning the Premier Inn exterior are a reference to broom flowers, the bright yellow spring blossom that gave Bromley its name.Churchill Quarter, off Market Square next to Churchill Theatre and overlooking Church House Gardens, is a joint venture between Bromley council and housebuilder Countryside. Proposed is a 16-storey tower with 407 new homes, shops and restaurants overlooking the library and theatre entrances. Locals complain the scheme intrudes on the view from Queen’s Mead and have criticised plans to compulsory purchase local homes.Under way beside Bromley South station is Perigon Heights, a 17-storey rental-only tower block from developer Purelake with 52 flats that will be ready in the autumn. For more information call Acorn on 020 8315 6917.

The Mansion at Sundridge Park is the conversion of a grand listed John Nash-designed house on the edge of Bromley into 22 apartments with two or three bedrooms, from developer City & Country.The scheme includes some of the most sumptuous flats to be found anywhere in London’s suburbs, with the largest of the homes extending to 3,435sq ft.Two-bedroom flats range from £525,000 to £2.5 million and the one remaining three-bedroom flat is £1.35 million. Call 020 8712 6895.

 First-time buyers

Help to Buy is available at Glassworks, a scheme of 28 flats in a former warehouse and office building in Liddon Road.One-bedroom flats start at £240,000 and two-bedroom flats at £370,000. Call Kinleigh Folkard & Hayward on 020 3993 9328.

 Renting in bromley

Victoria Saunders, lettings branch director at Kinleigh Folkard & Hayward says the St Mark’s Square development is popular with renters and she has a waiting list of people wanting to rent there.One-bedroom flats in St Mark’s Square rent for between £1,200 and £1,300 a month and two-bedroom flats for between £1,400 and £1,500 a month.Families are keen to live near good schools, with three- and four-bedroom houses close to the popular Highfield primary school renting for between £2,200 and £2,500 a month.

 Staying power

Bromley is a family area with a loyal following, although some families move to West Wickham, Sevenoaks or Tunbridge Wells for secondary schools.

Best roads

Garden Road, Lodge Road and Edward Road close to Sundridge Park Golf Club have detached Edwardian and Twenties houses.Rodway Road in Bromley North Village has detached Edwardian houses.On the Palace Estate there are Twenties and Thirties detached houses, some with mock-Tudor detailing, in Hayes Road, Beadon Road and Stone Road, with the advantage of being in walking distance of Bromley South station.A four-bedroom detached house in Cameron Road is for sale for £950,000.

Up and coming 

Chatterton Village, an area of small Victorian terrace houses off Bromley Common to the south of the town centre, has its own little shopping centre along Chatterton Road.It is a favourite with young families buying their first house. A two-bedroom house in Victoria Road is for sale for £450,000.

Special Thanks to Homes and Property for their Article-

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