Wandsworth Town residents fear the neighbourhood’s ‘village vibe’ could be lost

By Charlotte Lillywhite, Local Democracy Reporter

The skyline of a neighbourhood once home to Britain’s oldest brewery site is changing forever as luxury flats in shiny tower blocks take over derelict land, once seized by hundreds of squatters in the 1990s.

Wandsworth Town is fast becoming a trendy new destination in the capital and residents love its “villagey vibe” but worry for its future.

Victorian workers’ cottages built for the famous Young’s Brewery, which shut down in 2006, now sell for more than £1million.

Wandsworth Town railway station (Picture: Charlotte Lillywhite)

While these terraced homes are snapped up by rich families, young professionals are moving into huge developments along the River Thames and around Wandsworth Town Station – just 15 minutes from Waterloo.

Some long-term residents cashed in on the spike in London house prices and moved to the countryside after Covid, locals say.

The average price of homes around the station was £711,676 in the past year, according to Rightmove – with terraced homes selling for a huge £1.11 million on average, and flats for £560,041.

Residents and business owners said the area had “changed massively” since they arrived decades ago.

Suzy Woods bought her home around 30 years ago, after renting in Battersea when she left university.

The 51-year-old works in Anthology in Old York Road and said the high street – now full of cafés, brunch spots and shops – used to have “hardly anything” and “wasn’t a destination at all”.

She said Anthology was one of the first businesses to see the area as a “good opportunity” 13 years ago, and that it’s changed hugely since Covid. Outdoor dining and semi-pedestrianisation has given it “more of a villagey vibe”.

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Old York Road, Wandsworth (Picture: Charlotte Lillywhite)

Acres of derelict land south of the Thames also lay empty for years before being turned into luxury flats.

Ms Woods said: “Loads of squatters used to live there. They were like real hippies, old-school hippies living on that bit of land and they were always trying to kick them off because they were squatting on the land.

“But there was nothing there, it was empty, there were none of these luxury flats anywhere around here at all.”

Pointing at new tower blocks going up around the town, Charles Benn, who moved into the area roughly 25 years ago, said the “skyline is gone”.

The 55-year-old said: “On the whole it’s changed for the better, but I don’t like all of this. Not in a nimby way, it’s just all changed and they’re not making the railway station any bigger.

“There’s going to be another 5,000 people there and they’re all going to be trying to get on this train in the morning. There’s no more doctors’ surgeries being built or anything like that.

“Younger people are going into places like this [tower blocks], they’re not coming into these houses because they’re too expensive now – they weren’t expensive when I moved here.”

Pictured top: Suzy Woods at Anthology in Old York Road, Wandsworth (Picture: Charlotte Lillywhite)

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