Published on February 27, 2014
Does Forest Hill need rebranding? Georgi Honnor
Where is Forest Hill? Forest Hill is located in South East London, approximately 6 miles from London Bridge. Forest Hill Dulwich Park Sydenham
History Forest Hill was originally part of the Great North Wood, it used to include the area of Honor Oak, which became recognised separately after Queen Elizabeth picnicked there by an oak tree on May Day at One Tree Hill. It’s development began when the Croydon canal was constructed through the area, which, after being not that successful saw a railway line take more or less the same route. With the area more connected it encouraged the building of substantial houses for merchants and professional men who wanted to live in a rural area with an easy journey to London. The relocation of the Crystal Palace from Hyde Park to Sydenham encouraged luxury development in western Forest Hill to an even greater extent, but the area east of the railway was mainly built up with more modest houses after railway fares became cheaper late in the 19th century, and the electric tram service reached Forest Hill in 1908.
What’s in Forest Hill? An area usually declines when there isn’t any ‘leisure facilities’ or attractions available for people. Not only do they provide places for locals to go but they bring money into the local economy by attracting visitors.
Horniman Museum & aquarium
Havelock Art Studios
Forest Hill Pools From this To this
Evidence of regeneration The Horniman Museum opened its aquarium in 2006 and the old pools were redeveloped into a leisure centre and opened in 2012 making both developments pretty recent. This shows that there continues to be investment into the area. This could show that the area is not experiencing a spiral of decline which would usually initiate a redevelopment/rebranding project.
Clone town vs home town
Most of the shops on the high street in Forest Hill are that of local businesses from cafes to sweet shops to boutiques and furniture suppliers. This would make Forest Hill a home town, rather than a clone town. There is evidence to suggest that these businesses are thriving in Forest Hill as the boutique Bunka has recently expanded, purchasing an empty shop further up the road to create ‘Bunka cards’. The one empty shop on the high street has some form of artwork on it, perhaps to keep up the ‘positive’ image of the town.
House prices I looked at on the Zoopla site and selected the cheapest and most expensive homes for sale. 1 bedroom apartment- £220,000- £369,000 2 bedroom apartment- £399,995-£540,000 3 bedroom house- £599,995-£795,950 4 bedroom house- £825,000- £1,400,000 5 bedroom house- £1,350,000-£1,495,000
Changes in house prices 4 bedroom semi dethatched house in Kemble Road… 2008- £569,950 2014- £825,000 As you can see house prices have risen dramatically in the past few years, suggesting that people want to live in Forest Hill.
Opinions on the area
The Guardian recently published an article about the positives and the negatives of Forest Hill with the positives being good schools, transport and closeness to central London and the negative being the incessant flow of traffic from the South Circular. This article has been largely criticised, however for using the tagline “affordable property in London” whilst going on to describe an average 4 bedroom semi detatched home for £1.25 million. It does appear that Forest Hill is gaining media attention and is therefore perhaps a desirable location.
Blogs… This is a quote from a local talking about Forest Hill. It must be considered, however, when reading this that their opinion may be subject to bias. “I moved here from 'fashionable' Kensal Rise in west London. Forest Hill has lovely views ,superb independent shops as well as USEFUL chain's like Boots, WHSmith, and Sainsburys. A brand new swimming pool, beautiful parks and open spaces, a superb museum and aquarium with a good cafe attached, a monthly farmers market- oh and really lovely friendly neighbours. On the subject of transport it takes 5 minutes to get to London Bridge, and 12 minutes to Victoria. Lastly the area really isnt 'cheap‘ as some have been saying earlier, though prices are certainly cheaper than that of nearby Dulwich they are higher than nearby Catford, but still out of the reach of most first-time buyers.”
Conclusion It appears that Forest Hill is not in need of rebranding. There is only one empty shop on the high street, which is below average, a high proportion of independent shops as well as climbing property prices and recent redevelopments of local leisure facilities. Public opinion is also fairly positive on blogging sites, for example, suggesting the area already holds a positive image.
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