Living in Surbiton

15 years ago...

Hello, I am thinking of moving to Surbiton with my family and have seen a house in Victoria Avenue. I have seen some negative comments on this site regarding this street and was hoping for an up to date opinion as with young children would like to feel safe! Many thanks for your time.


I lived there for 25 years! At one point I guess I was one of the evil "youths" hangin out in the rec. I spose we were a bit mischievous but I dont remember killing anyone. I didnt burn down the pavillion either! Of course in my day teens doth'd their caps and said "how do you do kind sir" as we passed our respected elders. Guess we didnt have hoods to hide behind back then. KFC came in very handy in post pub trips home.

Great place to grow up; the park, Kingston, river, schools, London, etc.

I just moved round zone 6 a bit. For the price of a 1 bed flat I bought a 3 bed semi and a big garden! 20 min direct trains into London bridge too - no more drain! woo hoo! Yes, there is better value out there than Surbiton. But each to their own :)!

i have just driven down victoria avenue to look at the area. 5-6 local boys aged 14-16 on bikes riding up and down looking for trouble. they were so full of attitude, riding down the middle of the road abusing drivers. one spat on my drivers window totally unprovoked. He was a young english boy aged early teens with a short hair cut. is that what the youth of england is growing up to be? what is the thrill in that? 6 kids on bikes in a dark street. they know no-one is going to stop by themselves and risk an assault and they know there are no police. their arrogance comes from that knowledge. we need to get rid of the fast food stores like the kfc that attract them and push the police to stop the anti-social behaviour

It is a shame to hear about this. Victoria Avenue should be a great road - the houses there are lovely, and it is within easy walking distance of the town centre and station.

Unfortunately, comments on this site suggest that some of the houses are used by the council to house problem families. Having the recreation ground at one end and the YMCA/KFC at the other also means that you are more likely to get more of these undesirable kids hanging around - a great shame that this sort of thing has been allowed to develop and stop decent people wanting to move to the road.

Unfortunately for Victoria Avenue, RBK planners appear to be approving every application to convert previously single family homes into flats.

This can only lead to the downfall of the street as a desirable place to live.
We all know that flat-dwellers bring their own unique problems.
Most flats get rented and renters typically have no commitment to their locality, eg increased rubbish and noise. Additionally, landlords typically have little interest in who they rent to.

Once a street starts to change into flatland, many families will vote with their feet and sell up to developers. Community spirit (or social capital as planners call it) disappears, and the area as a whole becomes less desirable.

The only policy that RBK applies to flat conversions is whether a house is big enough to be converted.
Imo, this is totally wrong. There is a need for a stricter policy on flat conversions.
They should look to maintain family housing in streets where it predominates, and only allow flat conversions where the majority of houses have already been converted to flats.
And this is without considering the absurdity of creating more flats when there is already a desperate shortage of school places of those that live in the new units.

I partly agree, and this picks up on a discussion in another recent thread on here.

Surbiton does have too many flats, but I don't think conversions are as damaging for the fabric of the town as purpose built ones are. Several areas of Surbiton (e.g. Cranes Park) are actually seeing large houses converted back from flats into family homes. This is only possible with conversions.

In the current economic environment, Victoria Avenue is more suited to flats than houses. The buildings are large houses with small gardens, and their central location makes them more suited to commuters than families. For their cost, families can get much more in Long Ditton, Hinchley Wood, Berrylands etc. These houses cost £750k upwards, but that is still less than their value as flats. This could well change shortly. As the value of the flats goes down, it will become reasonable for people to convert them back to houses.

Ultimately, I would like to see Surbiton return to a nice mix of family housing and flats. This is not possible at the moment, but as the economic situation worsens, I think the houses that can quickly be converted back from flats for £50k will fare much better than a purpose built block that cannot be.

More suited to commuters than families? If you have a mortgage it's pretty hard to pay it off without commuting. I totally agree with stricter policing of developers. It is absolutely true that areas where homes are turned into flats go downhill.FAST. And council housing haha. I live in Fulham in a street where all the semi-detached houses have a starting price of circa £2.5 million and slap in the middle are two houses turned into housing association flats. So two homes are now eight residences in a typical London street with limited parking. Both front and rear gardens are constantly left in a terrible state of mess (until they are cleared at rate payers expense) and we are often entertained with the lively high volume arguments emanating from this address, vocal bombardments peppered with every swear-word imaginable and the occasional clang of a misdirected missile. And you're ok with this?
I was hoping Surbeton may be better but with this kind of attitude how can it!

But there is a big difference between converting a house into flats and converting one into social housing flats.

Take St Andrews Square as an example, lovely 4 storey Victorian town houses converted into flats that sell for up to £500k each (not much by Fulham standards, but a lot for Surbiton!)

All of the flats are privately owned or rented and there is none of the bad language or mess that you have noticed. OK, it is not as nice as having single families living on the full houses, but the current property market does not allow for that. These houses are worth up to £2m each as flats and no one would be prepared to pay that for them as houses.

The good thing about this is that when/if the market crashes, these houses are available to be converted back into family homes. The same cannot be said of all of the
purpose built blocks that have been thrown
up in the same locality, these are much more likely to end up as social housing in a downturn.

I don't see why being closer to the station and being suitable for family housing are mutually exclusive.

Yes, the gardens are smaller in Victoria Avenue than say in Berrylands, but for some families that may be a justifiable trade-off in being closer to the station.

If the houses are going at 775 grand as a family house, then there is no doubt that the demand is there.
"Just becasue they would be worth more than flats" doesn't strike me as a valid reason to allow Victoria Avenue to be converted into flats - the loss of family housing is not justified, and flat dwellers would drag the area down. You could apply the same argument to any house, anywhere - "oh, it would be worth more as flats, lets knock it down".
Thankfully there is some degree of planning control that prevents this, but in my opinion, it doesn't go far enough if attractive streets like Victoria Avenue, popular for family homes for over 100 years, are suddenly allowed to degenerate into flatland.

Good points.

I don't think that proximity to the station and family housing are mutually exclusive, more that a family with £750k to spend on a house generally tends to prefer largers gardens, off street parking and a quieter environment. I appreciate that this is not always the case.

I am very much against family homes being knocked down just because the site would be worth more as flats (see my other post about Maple Road). This is one of the biggest problems facing Surbiton at the moment, in my opinion.

I might be biased, but I think it is too much of a generalisation to say that flat-dwellers drag an area down. My view is that it is more to so with the status rather than the size of the property - those who are housed by the local authority are likely to drag the area down more than those who rent privately, and those who rent privately are likely to value the area less than those who choose to buy a property. I appreciate this is also a bit of a generalisation!

Victoria Avenue is a very nice road, and deserves to be preserved. It's problem is that it does not provide enough value to families in the current market. A lot of families do not want to live that close to KFC, the YMCA, and a park that attracts chavs at night. Until these factors change, it is important that the fabric of the houses is maintained for future generations. I'd hate to see it ruined in the same way the council have done with Maple Road.

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