Area check: Forest Hill / Catford

Hello, My wife and I are currently looking at moving south east and specifically at the area between catford and forest hill. For example the streets off Woolstone road - Levendale, Lutwyche, Broxted, Neuchatel, between Woolstone and Vancouver Road. I’ve read other posts on the site about streets and areas closer to honor oak or in forest hill and between east dulwich.

Any advice from people living on those streets on - crime, traffic, community, local services, shops, noise etc. We are completely new to the area and appreciate any insider views. Thanks very much in advance.

We live on Woolstone near where you’re talking about. There is a little Tesco Express a 5 min walk away, or the big Sainsburys 10 mins away. Waitrose Beckenham is about 7 min drive. We often walk to Mayow Park (great cafe) for coffee or lunch. The river is behind you going all the way to Greenwich. We also walk up to HOP and Forest Hill within 10/15 mins. At the time when we moved we’d lived in Balham right by the station but as I get older (35 now) I’m glad of the extra steps to get everywhere and my kids have grown up here and are great walkers.

In terms of noise and crime, personally I feel as safe as I did in Balham and it’s definitely quieter than there. There can be some cars that use rat runs during school hours but outside of that it’s fine.

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It’s a nice enough area but isn’t a coffee-shops-and-nighttime-economy area, if that’s your thing.

Noise and traffic: it shouldn’t be particularly busy. I don’t know if Woolstone Road is classed as a main road but I would describe it as one step up from a quiet residential side road but not as busy as a B-road. It’s certainly not as busy as the South Circular to the north or Perry Hill to the south.

Public transport: 75 bus route runs along Woolstone Road (Lewisham-Catford-Sydenham-Penge-Norwood Junction-Croydon). There are 2 or 3 routes along Catford Hill. For trains you could use Catford (Thameslink), Catford Bridge (SouthEastern service to Charing Cross - but not a particularly good frequency), or Forest Hill (Southern service to London Bridge; and London Overground). The walk to Catford along Catford Hill isn’t the prettiest walk in the world. You’d have a longer walk to Forest Hill than I personally would want, but it depends what you’re used to.

Shops: there are a few small shops on Perry Hill (and also at the junction of Woolstone Road and Perry Vale) but definitely not of the trendy coffee-shop variety. There is however a GP surgery and two pharmacies at the end of Woolstone Road, so they would be almost on your doorstep! For supermarkets, the nearest are at Bell Green (walking distance) with a Sainsbury’s superstore and also a fairly new Aldi. A bit further away there’s a good Lidl on Southend Lane (better than the high street one in Sydenham) and as Pea said, Waitrose in Beckenham but you’d need to drive there. Catford has Tesco (but not large), Lidl and Aldi.

For independent shops and restaurants etc, you could explore Catford (which is never going to make a good first impression but has some OK aspects), Forest Hill, Sydenham and Stanstead Road/Brockley Rise. If you use a bus to get around then realistically you’ll be orientated towards Sydenham rather than Forest Hill, because there’s no direct bus from that end of Woolstone Road to Forest Hill.

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Catford is a toilet. You’re better off concentrating on Forest Hill.

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You really don’t like Catford do you @swagger!!

Personally I think Catford has some merits. Two train stations, the Broadway Theatre, Lewisham Hospital & Ninth Life. Is Ladywell Fields counted as Catford - that’s a nice big park too.

There’s also Halfords, Wickes and a Travis Perkins for some utility.

It’s handy to have down the road, though I prefer Forest Hill of course :slight_smile:

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I don’t deny Catford could do with a bit of sprucing up and there are plans for redevelopment once the South Circular is rerouted behind Laurence House and for which construction was planned to start in 2021. However it isn’t as bad as you indicate. One of the best more recent additions is the independent cinema in Catford Mews with its 3 screens, modern comfortable seating and bar area and which reopens today for the first time since lockdown. It is reasonably priced especially if you take out membership. And only a short bus journey away from many parts of SE23 on a 75, 185 or 171.

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Catford is certainly ‘ripe for regeneration’ compared to Forest Hill but it’ll get there. We live in the Perry Vale area between wool stone and Stanstead and it’s brilliant for community.

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Pretty sweeping generalisation there, Swagger, but depends what you mean by Catford as the SE6 postcode covers a wide area. For example, I wouldn’t exactly describe the roads around Blythe Hill Fields and Ladywell Fields as a ‘toilet’.

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We live in a similar area to Estelle - Perry Vale. We really like our little area and often walk up to Catford via Vancouver Road. During lockdown I’d take our toddler for our daily walk down that road network as we liked it so much! Nice and quiet streets, nice houses.

Catford itself we’ve found handy for specific shops, but it’s a bit rough around the edges compared with FH. However, as others have mentioned it’s a target for regeneration and I have a couple of friends who’ve bought there with a view to the longer term uplift. So could be a good investment area?

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Catford could be where Nunhead is now. Plenty of decent spots there.

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The roads you mention sit between Woolstone Road and Perry Hill. I’ve lived in the local area since 1995 and would be more than happy to chat through it with you. DM me if that sounds of interest.

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We moved to Lutwyche Road 5 years ago now (from an ’N’ postcode too - culture shock!) and we’re really happy here. As mentioned, you are a bit further from the stations but we have a choice of 3, on 5 different lines within walking distance, so you’ve always got options if one line’s disrupted. The pay-off for the extra walking, is it’s very quiet & peaceful with a lot of families, and it feels safe. They close our street to cars for an afternoon every few months, to let the kids play out (and I think the other side streets do similar). We’ve not seen much evidence of crime at all in the years we’ve been here. The occasional car being broken into & foxes tipping over the food bins, but that’s about it.

Property’s cheaper on the SE6 side of the boundary but Broxted & Lutwyche are lovely roads, so if you can cope with being 10 metres closer to Catford you’ll get more space for your money.

As for Catford itself, it’s scruffy, noisy and dominated by traffic - BUT - its got a brilliant new independent cinema, two good pubs that serve food (CBT & Ninth Life), a great cocktail bar (Bottle), a street-food market on a Sunday, new yoga centre, vegan cafe…etc, etc. As others have said, there’s still a long way to go buts its improved a lot in 5 years and we find ourselves going out there regularly now, which we certainly wouldn’t have done when we first arrived.
For a quieter night out we tend to walk up towards Honor Oak, to the Chandos / Babur / Grape & Grain etc. Plenty of food & drink choice round there and a 15 minute walk home. Happy to chat more if you want to DM.

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Apologies if my earlier comment came too close to the bone for some. I appreciate that Catford does extend beyond the two stations and Lewisham town hall and there is some nice housing stock and some relatively quiet streets. It’s just that every time I’m passing through that neck of the woods - on foot or behind the wheel - there’s a conspicuous amount of junkies and street drinkers who seem awfully keen to harass the public. Barratt Homes have made an admirable effort at rejuvenating the plot of land where the dog track used to stand, but until Milford Towers are razed to the ground (preferably by controlled demolition to mark the occasion) along with Eros House (Grade two listed in celebration of brutalism) they’ll remain eyesores that’ll put people off the area.

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@ForestHull, if it’s an consolation, on the other end of the spectrum I don’t think there’s anything special about Dulwich Village. It’s dull and there’s no shops to pop out to for something small like if you forgot to buy milk during the weekly shop, etc. The only attraction for me is that there are relatively few peasants.

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I think you’ll find that Perry Vale and the roads off Woolstone are now collectively know as Perry Village, “the village” or indeed “betwixt the roundabouts”.

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Everything off Honor Oak Rd will from now on be known as East East Dulwich. You heard it here first.

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Back in the early days of local online forums (ie The Other Place) that area was known as Upper Dulwich Bottom. The Perry Rise area was something like the People’s Republic of Southern Forest Hill.

Anyone who refers to Perry Vale Village is a pretentious #%*$#%.

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Surely you mean West Catford

No, West Catford was the area bordering SE6 (so probably the area the OP is referring to, and around Blythe Hill).

Down in the Vale we were the People’s Republic.

Yes, as @Jonny_Five said, it’s just Perry Village (or less frequently "betwixt the roundabouts” :smile:).