Better buy: Sydenham or West Norwood?

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Better buy: Sydenham or West Norwood?

Post by Emc »

Hi all,

I'm split between buying a flat in Sydenham (the lower end, close to the Community Library in one of the Victorian conversions) or buying in West Norwood.

I made an offer on a flat in West Norwood that fell through and then found a place in Sydenham a couple of weeks ago but have since learned that the original place I was after in West Norwood is back on the market so at the moment I'm having some difficulties deciding.

I'm mainly wondering in terms of which area shows more potential for regeneration in the near future. Sydenham Road seems a bit tatty, although there are two nice cafes at the top end. There are plans to regenerate the top of Sydenham Road but does anyone know if there are any plans to do-up the lower end of the road. I know about the library garden plans, but I'm wondering if there are likely to be any nice little quirky shops, cafes and restaurants there (or any more on the whole of Sydenham Road) within the next couple of years?

In West Norwood, the high street seems quite nice in parts and tatty too in other parts. There's a cute artisan bakery there and a few other shops and local supermarkets and a monthly craft market. But what is really making this decision hard for me is that I've heard that a Picturehouse will be opening up there in 2014.

I know there's a film club in Sydenham which I'm quite excited about, but a little arts cinema would be amazing, although that's probably not likely to happen any time soon?

There seems to be a better community spirit in Sydenham than in West Norwood. Both have very pretty houses. There were a few really nice restaurants and pubs close the flat I wanted in West Norwood (well, closer the Gipsy Hill end) but there doesn't seem to be much within a short walking distance of the Sydenham flat (although there's a little Italian restaurant that I read good reviews about).

What would you say is the potential for Sydenham to move up in the world (or at least have a few more cafes, restaurants and little cultural things within the next couple of years - and generally look a bit less tatty)? And how does anyone think this would compare with the potential regeneration of West Norwood if the cinema there might give the area some sort of fast-track gentrification?

Any advice would be gratefully appreciated.

Thank you! :)

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Re: Better buy: Sydenham or West Norwood?

Post by Eagle »

We would welcome people with your attitude. Sydenham very mixed and varies a lot from area to area.

I would imagine West Norwood has a similar mixed profile.

Good Luck and hope you move to SE26.

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Re: Better buy: Sydenham or West Norwood?

Post by leenewham »

We are working on some of the regeneration in West Norwood. I'm really impressed with the area. Feast is great, there are some great shops there and the new French cafe is great.

To be honest, the high street there is improving and will continue to improve at a faster rate that Sydenham. the new library and cinema are exciting additions to the high street and will make a big difference. Have a well designed leisure centre int he heart of the town centre will be a big boost too. Also the new school is very nice. Lots of the traders, who we have met, are very nice and the new high street plans are sensible and well designed. The cemetry is a local gem and well worth a visit and there are some exciting plans for it. It has some amazing cafes. Sorrento is great and Stavros at the newly refurbished Electric is very nice and examples to our greasy spoons.

The houses surrounding West Norwood are lovely. And it has FEAST, which is brilliant and Norwood park has the best childrens playground for miles with a cafe next to it.

It also had a fairly strong traders association which does make a difference.

Sydenham has better travel links, more parks, the portas pilot, see3 markets, the arts festival and some great shops. It's also better value (in my opinion possibly the best value in London).

If you want a rapidly improving high street and a selection of cafes and are exciting by a picture house cinema on your doorstep but no current nightime economy then West Norwood is your better bet.

If you want a variety of parks, more places to go in the evening, better travel links, then I'd vote for Sydenham. Either would be good and both have a local community and I'm sure you'd be happy in either. Sydenham didn't sink low enough, have enough empty shops, local landlords etc to properly regenerate and stalled a little after Billings and the Blue Mountain Cafe opened while Forest Hill rushed ahead.

The best hope for Sydenham is the Portas Pilot and some of the plans are exciting, I just hope they stick. As ever landlords, high rents and dull, unimaginative businesses seem to be a huge problem here and it takes a huge effort or skin shedding to change it. But I still love it here. But I'm a little jealous of what currently happening in W Norwood.

I'm in Lower Sydenham. I'm sure some locals would love to try to persuade you over a pint in a local public house to persuade you to move to SE26. I'm not sure that would happen in W Norwood. ;-)
Last edited by leenewham on 18 May 2013 20:44, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Better buy: Sydenham or West Norwood?

Post by michael »

I drove into West Norwood a few weeks ago to visit B&Q (the one in Lower Sydenham will be open soon) and was appalled by the quality of the high street. Admittedly I didn't go to the centre, just the northern part and I think it gets a bit better. And I'm sure Lee is doing a good job helping with the regeneration, but it needs it.
It made me feel very happy that I live in the heart of Forest Hill. It might not be the most picturesque village in the country but I find Forest Hill (and Sydenham) pleasant places to shop and spend time.

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Re: Better buy: Sydenham or West Norwood?

Post by stuart »

I moved from West Norwood to Sydenham and never regretted it. Hence I may be a little biased.

Before that I lived in Balham. I enjoyed it there - even though (then) it was run down it had life, it was fun and the transport links were great (rail, tube & bus).

Sydenham is almost as good for transport. Three different railway lines to different parts of central London plus the overground. It has good buses including the 24/7 176 getting you safely from central London at obscure night hours. It also has a real sense of community.

West Norwood station is on southern loop from Victoria to London Bridge and the train service is dreadfully slow. It has all that Michael gives it and in the end it didn't gel for me. And it just doesn't have the multiplicity of green open spaces in and around Sydenham where you can walk and enjoy the summer without the bother of having to quit London.

Having said that both places differ street by street and a good home in one will beat a less good home in the other. So keep both sets of estate agents busy!

Do let us know your choice when you get there/here ...


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Re: Better buy: Sydenham or West Norwood?

Post by Emc »

Hi all, thank you all for your advice! It sounds like both areas are fairly equal, all considered. The regeneration plans in West Norwood sound really exciting and I think the place has a nice village feel which I like but I think the open space and transport links (and bigger flat) in Sydenham comes up trumps! West Norwood won't be far away, so I'll only be a few stops away from the Picturehouse and a short bus ride from the Beckenham cinema too. I'm looking forward to seeing what comes or the Portas scheme. Looking forward to becoming a Sydenham resident soon! :)

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Re: Better buy: Sydenham or West Norwood?

Post by Willy »

I bought a flat in West Norwood in 1996 and lived there until 2003...the high street was grim then and during a housing boom never got any better. The only up side is the housing stock is for the most part Victorian and affordable but that's as far as it goes plus transport is poor at best. I had lots of friends in West Norwood and every single one has since left and been very happy about it. Crime is much worse than Sydenham (I was burgled 4 times and one of my friends was stabbed at a bus stop by a drunk passer by). Yes, Sydenham high road is a bit run down but the transport is excellent and there are some gems, I have never felt unsafe in Sydenham.

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