The popularity of Honeywell and Belleville state schools grows each year and estate agent John Thorogood sees many buyers determined to find a property within the catchment area of one or both schools – although many don’t realise that these catchment areas shrink and expand from year to year.
Austin Thorogood says: “As an agent on Northcote Road for nearly 25 years I have been amazed at how the popularity of Honeywell and Belleville schools has increased. During the 1990s and early 2000s the emergence of numerous high quality private schools in the area was and still is trumpeted from many quarters and there certainly is an excellent choice of those.
“But without doubt, high on the initial agenda of many incoming buyers and tenants, irrespective of budget, is to find a property within catchment for one or both schools. Flats and rented properties are often snapped up as a result.
“We register over 1,000 new people at our Northcote Road office every year. But this “catchment area” is generally very small and with a high sibling count most years, there will only be so many satisfied people who successfully get their children in. The rest must consider other primary schools (three others incidentally are included in the list of prescribed feeder schools for the relatively recently opened Bolingbroke Academy Secondary school) or go down the private route, or decide upon a different area.
“Many of the properties we sell or let are not in what most people determine the catchment area to be. And whether that area remains as it is today is uncertain – it shrinks and expands depending on sibling intake and any rule changes. Changes to methods of measurement, qualifying sibling entry, or rules/scrutiny regarding renting and in addition to Belleville’s expansion, have all had an effect. The general trend has enlarged the catchments although there has been some contraction since the freakish results of 2017.” He points out that prices have risen enormously over the past two decades, but not just because of great schools. The green spaces, good transport links to The City and West End, and the shops, boutiques and recreational facilities all help to make it a great place to live. He adds: “If there is a temporary premium to pay, in order be in the catchment area, then frankly, why pay it? There are plenty of good and, in many cases, better houses available Between the Commons which you may find at a more sensible price level – at least for the time being.”