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Postcode Wars

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Postcode Wars


It’s not just social climbers who care about their postcode, it can affect house prices too.

William Blake House in Battersea

William Blake House in Battersea

There appears to be a postcode war everywhere you look right now, but it might be that today’s disputes over the prefix denoting where we live may soon be a thing of the past.

South London residents are angry that their codes start SE8, denoting Deptford, instead of SE10, denoting more salubrious Greenwich. In Yorkshire, homeowners want their prefix BD (for Bradford) to become LS (for Leeds). Meanwhile, in Windsor, the locals – perhaps even royal ones – are unhappy with a code starting in SL, confusing the town with Slough.

Surprise, surprise, it’s a status thing. But can a postcode determine your house price, too? The answer is ‘yes’, as a tour of London will show.

SW3 and SW10, for example, cover Chelsea; close by, SW11 means Battersea. In reality, they share many local amenities but in price terms, they are chalk and cheese.

‘Chelsea freeholds now sell for in excess of £2,000 per sq/ft, whereas the cheaper neighbour settles more comfortably with £1,000 per sq/ft,’ explains Howard Elston of Aylesford International.

Mulberry Walk in Chelsea

Mulberry Walk in Chelsea

To prove the point, he says four Mulberry Walk in Chelsea is on the market this summer for a cool £15.75m, giving the buyer 6,202 sq/ft of glamorous space. Over the river at one William Blake House, a buyer will get rather more (6,882 sq/ft) for offers over £6m.

It happens at all levels of the market and in rentals as well as sales, according to Fiona Bourke, in the Wandsworth lettings office of Carter Jonas. She should know – from her window she looks out at roads in four different postcodes.

‘People often only want SW11 [covering Battersea] and, even though a house may be in just the next road over [SW12 Balham], they won’t even see it,’ she says.

‘Or look at the Heaver Estate, a beautiful conservation area of large red brick Victorian houses. It’s in SW17 [Tooting] and prices have remained stubbornly low,’ she explains.

But there are signs of change as good sense starts to take over from snobbery, according to Guy Meacock of buying agency Prime Purchase. He says, ‘Younger buyers aren’t as hung up on postcodes unless they’re old school and a bit out of date. The attitude is that if you can get a bigger house and a garden with parking, and it costs less because the postcode is different, then what of it?’

And with London’s infrastructure changing so much, so quickly, postcodes today give away less about an area than used to be the case.

Look at that battle between SW3 and SW10 on one side, and SW11 on the other.

The latter area, Battersea, may have less cache than Chelsea and fewer cafés than the King’s Road right now, but what of the future? Gordon Ramsay has taken on a site in Battersea Square, the Power Station and US Embassy are attracting new wealthy residents, and Thomas’s and Newton Prep schools make Battersea a great option for families.

Postcodes? Who cares about postcodes?


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