South east London area guide for Brockley

This is the area which surprised us most with its recent upsurge in popularity. Up until credit crunching affected the housing market, oh-so-posh East Dulwich was the most desirable spot in this neck of the woods. Brockley has significantly beaten East Dulwich in online search figures for some months and remains one of the most popular enquiries at the Roy Brooks office right now.

SE4 is perfectly positioned for commuters, has excellent schools, a conservation area and remarkable parkland at Hilly Fields. Views are spectacular from the park, which is surrounded by truly beautiful homes and has a Hogwartsesque girls' school plum in its centre.

Roy Brooks once said, "As the artists have already moved into Peckham it is only a matter of time before they are followed by the fringe professions, stage, telly and advertising - with the Chelsea type of married intellectual snob breathing on their necks...." Today, we think Roy's comments ring true for Peckham, Brockley, New Cross, Deptford and Nunhead. Goldsmiths' and Camberwell postgrads have been setting up studios in these areas for some time. Fringe activities such as arthouse film clubs, off-beat exhibitions and pop-ups, cabaret, comedy and theatre are rife in these areas if you know where to look.

Fifty artists showed at last summer's Brockley Open Studios and the new'ish Sunday Open Art Saloon aims to connect as many local creatives as possible. Over the last 5 years independent cafés, shops, restaurants and bars have arrived in Brockley. If specialist food shops are surviving, that alone can gauge the demographic supporting them. There's a large organic foodhall Broca, a much-loved wine merchant Mr Lawrence, (check out the Google+ reviews), a revered coffee shop Browns of Brockley and even a French delicatessen Desgustation. If you haven't visited Brockley Food Market make sure you do, it's intensely good.

Brockley's community is linked by superior hyper-local digital activity. One particular online forum is very well attended, helping promote feel-good projects like community gardens and highlight any concerns raised by SE4 residents. Go to Brockley Central to read threads or register and get invloved.

The arrival of the East London Line means commuters can be in Shoreditch's Digital Mile in minutes, and generally halves travel-time to north and west London via a change at Canada Water. Brockley is just two stops from that Jubilee line interchange and falls within Zone 2.

Two of south east London's most oversubscribed secondary schools are near; Prendergast (the school at Hilly Fields) and Haberdashers' Aske's, which falls just outside Brockley's border in New Cross. With the wind behind you and maybe a couple of years' piano lessons, your kids stand a reasonable chance of getting a place at Askes', but these things change year to year. Primary schools include St John's, St Mary Magdalen and Myatt Garden.

Being surrounded by some really good areas has helped highlight Brockley's best points; there's still work to do, shops to be let and areas to tidy up - but this is an increasingly interesting spot that deserves everyone's attention.