Whether for shameless voyeurism, a sense of belonging, decent schools or the need for more space, the desires of buyers take them to London’s inner cities, leafy suburbs and urban villages for reasons as diverse as the city itself; in the last 20 years almost every London postcode has developed its own, unique scene, from hipster-cool to yummy mummy and everything in between.
There are neighbourhoods with a strong ethnic vibe, from the Indian sub-continent of Southall to the People’s Republic of Chinatown; Caribbrixton, the Portuguese in Stockwell, the Jewish in Golders Green. School and family-oriented communities like Dulwich, Battersea, Chiswick, & Barnes. Even sexuality gets a look in with more than a fair share of Lesbians in Stoke Newington & Herne Hill, while the Gays take up in Clapham & Islington. It’s nothing short of brilliant.
What this creates for each section of society (oh what a lovely phrase!) is a premium for living there. It’s very unlikely a 4×4 driving family of 2.2 children will have any interest in having it large in Dalston, while an eastside groover might call to mind the words of Virginia Woolf: “If the choice is between Richmond and death, I choose death”. But for their own area of choice, and particularly school catchment zones and outright trendiness, Londoners – mockney or real – will do whatever it takes to get there.
This builds a solid base of like-minded types who gather, become friends and set up local shops & services, making the place yet more attractive to their contemporaries who either come to hang out, or come to live. And so it continues, giving London the most fanciful collection of neighbourhoods in the world.
That said, we largely steer clear of ghettos and this is probably down to the English sense of curiosity; we simply have to know what’s going on and where. Never capable of minding our own business, we used to go off on global crusades of empire building. Nowadays it’s people from Putney at Lovebox. It’s fascinating how those from one town, with absolutely no desire to live in another, head there in droves to see and be inspired by how the other half live. Although whether there’ll be an eastside weekend exodus to south-west London remains to be seen.