DescriptionWhat was meant to be a first-time buy for a few years turned into a 19-year love affair!
The location of the flat has been a major reason for this; the brilliant Crystal Palace Park is pretty much at the end of our road and the surrounding areas are very leafy with the likes of Sydenham Hill Woods, Wells Park and Mayow Park among the gorgeous green spaces all within walking distance of the flat.
If you have a car, there is plenty of space in the large communal parking areas to the front and rear of the block. However, the transport links are fantastic too; the flat is equidistant between Sydenham and Penge West stations, which are both on the Overground. It's ideal if you want to head to East and North London, though to be honest once you're here we think you might prefer to socialise in South London. (Not that we're biased!) An important thing for us was to be well-connected to central London - there are also trains to London Bridge from Sydenham station and London Victoria from Penge East station. It takes about 20 minutes to get to London Bridge and Victoria from those stations. It is also very easy to get to Gatwick Airport - perfect for those city breaks and holidays - and Croydon and Bromley are easily reached for shopping. There are two handy bus routes running along Lawrie Park Road itself, especially the 176, which is a 24hr bus route going all the way to Tottenham Court Road. It is such a bonus having the 176 stop so close to the flat. It's saved us a lot of money on cabs home from Soho over the years! We work in the City and Canary Wharf, and both locations are easily accessible from the flat too.
We are rather spoilt with food and drink options too. When we first moved into the flat, we regularly visited East Dulwich (also on the 176 route) and the Crystal Palace Triangle for bars, cafes and restaurants. We still enjoy visiting these areas but as the years have passed the eating and drinking options in Sydenham, Forest Hill and Penge have greatly improved. In Sydenham, we love The Greyhound for the delicious food and the fiendish pub quiz (with a cash prize!), The Dolphin is a great gastropub with a huge beer garden, The Fox & Hounds has been refurbished and is a nice spot to drink and that's opposite 161 Food And Wine which always has varied food menus and wonderful wines. Mamma Dough does very tasty sourdough pizzas too. In Penge, we are fans of the Southey microbrewery for its excellent craft beer, we think The Alexandra is a lovely pub with a great menu and Friends Of Flavours is a brilliant Italian restaurant, plus Chez Yves serves up irresistible galettes and crepes. In Forest Hill, we go to Matoom for the best Thai food in the area, plus you can bring your own beer/wine too. If we want a real treat, then we head to Sushi Garden for amazing Japanese food and cocktails.
If you're into fitness, there's a Pure Gym and The Gym in Sydenham. We are long-time members of Pure Gym and are hooked on doing the classes there. If nothing else, it makes us feel less guilty about all the eating out we do! There are great running routes in the parks we previously mentioned, plus swimming pools in Forest Hill and Beckenham and there's also a great yoga studio in Sydenham too.
We're also big film fans, and it's been amazing to see how many lovely arthouse cinemas have opened in the surrounding areas. We often go to the Everyman in Crystal Palace, the Ritzy in Brixton and East Dulwich Picturehouse, to name but a few. Beckenham is also a short bus ride away and has great bars and restaurants too, plus there's a tram stop at Beckenham Junction, which is so useful if you need to head to IKEA in Croydon (it's OK, we all do it sometimes). If you do prefer buying second-hand items, you should check out the antique shops and markets on Church Road and Haynes Lane in Crystal Palace. Crystal Palace is generally brilliant for its independent shops - the Blowing Dandelions chocolatier is a big favourite.
As for the flat itself, the first thing that immediately grabbed us was the gorgeous, tree-lined view of the Crystal Palace transmitter from our lounge - it's so good we've even been able to watch the annual Fireworks Night display from the sofa. We've also enjoyed seeing many beautiful sunsets from our elevated position and the late afternoon sunshine flooding into the lounge is always a real treat. It brings plenty of light into the flat and gives a bright, airy feel. Being on the top floor also means we only have one flat next door to us so it feels nice and private and very safe up here. It's a lovely and quiet little block and we have a great relationship with our neighbours, but people are always respectful and very pleasant.
We've tried to make the flat as comfortable as possible, replacing the previous bathroom and kitchen and redecorating throughout, and we barely hear any noise from the other flats in the block. We tried to fit as much storage as possible in the kitchen and we feel the bathroom has everything you need but doesn't feel crowded at all. It's a very peaceful flat too, which is always a bonus when working from home. During lockdown, we converted the spare guest bedroom into a home office. Having a separate room that you could close the door on after a long and stressful working day was such an advantage for one's mental health as well as being very practical. We also like the fact that the block itself is set back from the road, which makes it feel more private. We also have access to a large loft, which is incredibly useful for extra space. The loft is not technically covered by the lease and is not part of the property, however because we have an excellent relationship with the block's freeholders, they agreed to let us use the space for additional storage.
We also think the maintenance charge is very reasonable in comparison to what we've seen elsewhere. We feel as if we get an excellent service for our money and are always kept well informed about what our maintenance charge is spent on. The block is well maintained and at least half of the flats have had the same residents in the time that we have lived here. People enjoy living here and we think that speaks volumes.
After many happy years we are now moving to be closer to family. We have loved seeing how the area has developed and changed and have adored living in the flat. We will be very sorry to leave but we hope you'll come to love it here as much as we have.
Council Tax - Band C Bromley £1,637.50
Lease remaining - 150 years
Service changes annually - £1,596.60
Ground rent annually - £0