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In praise of Surbiton

13 years ago...

I tried hard to find something good to say about this genteel decaying place but could not.
Could someone please say something good about living in this expensive,impossible to park and filthy town.
At least if it was Wandsworth the Council Tax would be only a fraction of ours.


We ended up here by default nearly 13 years ago - we were looking for a flat somewhere in southwest London and ended up on a bus that had its last stop at Surbiton station. We had no idea where we were but got off the bus and as it was pouring down with rain we slipped into an estate agents - we bought our very first flat that afternoon - a two bed conversion on St Andrew's Square. We'd loved it and have not looked back - three houses later we are still in the area. We love it because it is 17 minutes to Waterloo on the train which runs several times an hour. It is green, has great schools, is on the river, is an easy walk to Kingston which has developed into a very good shopping area. There are some good restaurants and bars - some good alternatives in Esher and Kingston both of which are close and we can be dining in central London within 30 mins if we wish. In under 10 mins we can be at the stables riding, picking our own veg at Garson’s Farm or enjoying a walk at a Ntional Trust garden - we can enjoy a bit of country living and a city life at the same time. Heathrow is about 30 mins - Gatwick 45min so travel is very easy. Our High Street isn't glamorous to be sure and we do have more than our fair share of hairdressers, coffee shops, charity stores and estate agents but we have a couple of nice gift shops, a sweet book store, a couple of fantastic florists and a Waitrose so I for one am perfectly content.

It is a cracking spot but keep it quiet or everyone from the SW postals will head this way.

That is a great summary of the area, and reflects a lot of my own reasons for living here. I love the fact that you made an offer on a flat the same day as first finding Surbiton. That was very brave, but St Andrews Square is lovely and I am sure it could seduce a lot of people in that way. I guess that the price would have been a bit more favourable in 1997 than it is now!

I agree totally about the High Street, but it is just the way I like it! All of the essential are there, and if it was any less scruffy it would be at risk of becoming fashionable, and the cost of housing would increase even further.

You do get a few 'undesirables' from time to time, but it is quite rare and people who complain about it should remember that this is a London suburb, not a rural village out in the middle of nowhere. It is still one of the safest-feeling places that I have lived, and I feel truly spoilt by how much open green space there is around here considering the facilities, shopping and transport that are also on the doorstep.

It is interesting to read so many different views of the town.

As with anywhere else, it is all down to the part that you live in.

I recently bought a flat on one of the river roads off Maple Road. I had to think long and hard about this, because at over £300k, I could have got a lot more for my money elsewhere.

I looked at flats in town centre areas of the ‘nice’ Surrey commuter belt – Esher, Weybridge and Guildford. None were more expensive than the flats in Surbiton, and some a lot cheaper.

All of them were nice areas but none had the 20 minute commute to Waterloo, the river Thames on your doorstep, and most of them were no more ‘leafy’, unless you wanted to live miles outside of the town centres on a private road. Even if you did, the prices in these roads are much higher than Surbiton. Comparing like-for-like, most of these town centres are actually far noisier and more traffic-ridden than Surbiton. It is the nice outlying executive estates that give them the reputation they have got.

With the exception of Guildford, none of them had a decent shopping/entertainment centre within walking distance.

For me, this part of Surbiton is expensive but worth it. I agree that other parts of the town that are cheaper still do not probably offer such good value for money.

I do think that the town centre itself could do with a big clean-up, and I can understand why people might not enjoy living too close to the station or YMCA due to all of the scummy elements that they bring into the town. I do not think that Surbiton should try to attract too many brand name shops to the town centre, though. There is currently enough to do basic, local shopping. If better shops started to arrive, people might start driving in to go there to avoid Kingston traffic, making Surbiton’s traffic worse in the process.

Overall, I cannot think of many places I would rather live.

As a student living on Brighton Road I can say Surbtion has its nice and bad bits to it. The high street is ... well ... not exactly filled with well known brands ... but would you expect it to be? all top shops will go to kingston and expect those in surbiton to shop there... surely not many people outside the area would come to surbiton to shop?! seems a little odd! Living really close to YMCA means I get to hear some really strange conversations and the occasional bust up. I find Surbiton has a wide range of people depending on what time of the day or year your walking down the high street. there are some wierdos, the old people, the students and the chavs. not exactly my type of mixture but most people are friendly. I want to back St James's Cafe as the best Ive been to. The owner is friendly and his wife (?) (the young girl from Poland I think) is gorgeous! Food is top as well! One thing people havent mentioned yet is the bus service! Its top notch and almost all the buses (my bus stop is opposite YMCA) take you to Eden Street in Kingston! Parking is an issue, but as I only drive to Surbiton when im dropping some stuff off to my flat I dont have too much a problem! I could go on, but on the whole Surbiton is a nice place. Having lived in some dives and having been up north (manchester) for 3 years I come to appreciate Surbiton slightly lazy lifestyle and that suits me fine!

The owner of St James cafe is not friendly. His food is overpriced and, if that was his wife she has obviously hsd the good sense to leave him.

I recommend the new French delicatessen on St Mark's Hill and the greasy spoon St James's.

I'm constantly amused and saddened by the racially motivated anti-immigration stance by posters on this forum. It's a result of our strong economy after all. People who complain about a foreign influx forget that migration is a constant and has always been, and we're all bits and pieces of other nationalities, from before the days that nations existed.

Open your minds.

Bloody expensive here though ;)

St James's greasy spoon is superb.

I'm looking forward to seeing what units will appear when this development is completed.

Oh dear things were going so well and I have been getting out and about to see for myself just how friendly Surbiton can be.
I really tried my best but did not find much of a welcome in any local shops especially,oddly,the florist and the charity shops.I guess it must be me,just a working class old git.

Have noticed though just how much dog dirt there is on our pavements and some of it at such great volume,this does appear to be nationwide problem as have spent a little time beachcombing in Dorset and was astonished that dogs are permitted on public beaches.

Good on ya!

Many thanks to you all,I can see now that I was far to cynical about the benefits of living here and will certainly stroll along the river bank.

It is also really good to know that so many people are concerned about the area and enjoy its attractions.They certainly outweigh both MK and Stevenage so I think I will give them a miss and just get my eyes open and really enjoy whats on my doorstep.

Just had a great wander down the river bank,it is certainly most attractive and not at all threatening,granted the odd eco terrorist cyclist is a nuisance but this only scares old folks so the rest of us can relax.Good to see that the winos have been moved on as well,lets hope they stay in the Kingston churchyard.

I would like to echo that last message! Well put across!

Why don't you stop whinging about the bloody house prices, ditch your car (maybe that's what's making the town so 'filthy') and start looking beyond the end of your nose.

When was the last time you took an early morning stroll along the towpath to Kingston or enjoyed a boat ride to Hampton Court on a sunny day? How often do you take advantage of the beautiful parks on our doorstep, or get involved in community life? In short exactly what do YOU put into Surbiton?

Nothing I suspect. My bet is you spend most of your life moaning about the Council Tax, complaining about the price of parking and wishing you were somewhere else.

Surbiton may be stuck in time but for many, that's its great attraction. It has all the basic facilities you could need, it's surprisingly friendly (if you bother to patronise the local shops and cafes) and above all it's relatively SAFE. If you want to see a film, go clubbing or shop yourself stupid, Kingston is only minutes away.

If you don't like it and would rather see the place covered in concrete sod off to Milton Keynes or Stevenage or any one of a thousand other faceless dormitory towns up and town the country. Oh, and don't foget to send us a postcard.

I still really enjoy living here, and am yet to find anywhere else that offers a better combination for the same sort of money.

The fast train link, proximity to airports and M25/M3/A3 combined with the river, parks and 10 minute walk to Kingston are the main advantages for me. Living in Surbiton allows you to benefit from all of the facilities in Kingston without having to suffer the traffic and night-time problems that are caused by the bad nightclubs there. Surbiton even has quite a few good bars, pubs and restaurants of it's own for those who don't want to walk to Kingston. The other advantage of Kingston being so close by is the only hint of trouble that you get after dark are in the pockets around the station and the YMCA. Other nearby towns feel much more threatening in the evening (Epsom, Sutton, Walton, even Richmond! etc)

I admit that the town centre is a bit drab, but it has got all of the essentials. I can't imagine why people want to park in Surbiton, apart from to go to supermarkets. If you are within walking distance it is fine, but otherwise surely there are better places to go shopping!

I can only talk about the central part of Surbiton, and it certainly appears to go a bit wrong at the top of St Marks Hill in terms of traffic, road planning and lack of amenity. Then again, you get a lot more for your money in those parts.

Yes,Nishni Novograd is not so hot and in England there are many worse towns,but few whose potential to be really great is squandered.

We a river,rail,airports close by and a planning authority and highway overlord who seem determined to bring the town to its knees.Just look at NewMalden after the road "improvements".

Now see the Ewell Road,King Charles etc.Humps restrictions poor visibilty and pointless cycle lanes going nowhere.
It will not be long before Broadway improvements,High Street improvements and assorted "street furniture" items conspire to bring the area to its knees.

With vision and imagination Surbiton could be one of the greatest suburbs,unfortunately that would bring an increase in house prices and none of us want that do we?

Keeps you fit the extra walk - not so good if you're pushed for time though!!

I can think of worse places to live than Surbiton!

Just the one then?
Providing one can parkwithin a mile of the station this is a very good one.

Surbiton - London Waterloo in less than 20 minutes!

Surbiton The bad points: Far too many immigrants moving in.
The good points: No local mosque.

Totally agree,far too many Irish Tinkers and Poles already.

I gather work is in progress on a mobile mosque based on a very large camper van so this shortfall will be addressed.

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