This map shows the price of a square foot of housing in every postcode in London

The central London section of the map. Image: Neal Hudson.

You know, I sometimes worry that my mental map of London’s property prices might be a bit simplistic. Okay, I know Bloomsbury, say, is more expensive than Barking. But which is better value? Where are you getting more for your money?

Well – enquiring minds need worry no longer, because housing analyst Neal Hudson, who used to work at Savills before he went rogue*, has just published this rather lovely map. It shows property prices per square foot in every London postcode: not the area ones, like N1 or E17, but the individual locations.

And it demonstrates, among other things, that, measured purely on the basis of size, homes in Barking are much better value than those in Bloomsbury. So as long as you’re not worried about location or facilities or that sort of thing, Barking is definitely better.

Bloomsbury and Barking, labelled to enable direct comparions. Sort of.

The map only shows postcodes inside Greater London (which, oddly, means that some homes in London E4, which are technically in Essex, aren’t included). As a result, you can see exactly how arbitrary the city boundaries are in a few places:

On this version I’ve labelled some of the contiguous suburbs that fall outside the city boundaries.

You can also see the surprisingly big areas of the city that done include any homes. In the centre, this is because of parks, or the offices of the City; but further out there’s a surprisng amount of industrial land (in the dark greys that mean “built up”) or open space (in the light grey that mean, well, not).

As to the prices themselves – as you’d expect, they’re highest in the centre. But the most expensive areas, in burning hot whites and yellows, also spread to the west into Kensington and Chelsea, and north into Hampstead.

The cheapest, meanwhile, are generally to be found to by the Thames to the east, especially in the boroughs of Barking and Bexley. In fact, the map shows at a glance many of the prejudices that have been built into London’s social geography for decades. North is more expensive than south; west more than east.

Probably the single most striking thing about the map is the way it highlights the way the character of the river changes as you travel across London. In the West, where the Thames is narrow, pretty and easily crossed, the most expensive properties are those by the river. In the east, where it’s wide, industrial and unbridged, it’s the cheapest.

The unadulterated version. Image: Getty.

Anyway, there’s no doubt loads more interesting stuff to find in here, if you’re minded to spend an hour looking (not least, the relative price in your own area). So why not play with the big version of the map on Hudson’s own website. You can also follow him on Twitter, and should, because he posts lovely maps like this surprisingly often.


*Freelance.

Jonn Elledge is the editor of CityMetric. He is on Twitter as @jonnelledge and also has a Facebook page now for some reason. 

Want more of this stuff? Follow CityMetric on Twitter or Facebook.

 
 
 
 

How spurious imperial science affected the layout of African cities

Freetown, Sierra Leone. Image: David Hond/Freetown From The Air/Wikimedia Commons.

As the European powers spread across the world, systematically colonising it as they went, one of the deadliest enemies they faced was disease. In 1850s India, one in twenty British soldiers were dying from such diseases – on a par with British Empire casualty rates during World War II.

When Europeans started dropping dead the minute they got off the boat, the scientists of the day rushed to provide their own, at times fairly dodgy, solutions. This era coincided with a key period of city planning in the African colonies – meaning that there is still visible evidence of this shoddy science in the cityscape of many modern African cities.
For a long time altitude was considered a protection against disease, on the grounds that it was far from the lowland heat associated with putrefaction. British officials in India retreated to the ‘hill stations’ during the warm season; this practice continued in the African colonies established by all sorts of European powers in the late 19th century.

So it was that one bunch of imperialists established the capital of German Kamerun at Buea, high on the side of Mount Cameroon. The city still has a population of 90,000 today. Evidence of this height fetish can still be found in the ‘Plateau’ districts of Brazzaville, Dakar and Abidjan as well as the ‘Ridge’ district of Accra.


Malaria, particularly, was an ever present fear in the colonies, and it did much to shape the colonial cities. It’s a sign of the extent to which 19th century medical science misunderstood how the disease was spread that its name comes from the French for ‘bad air’. By the late 19th century, knowledge had managed to progress far enough to identify mosquitoes as the culprits – but views still wildly diverged about the appropriate response.

One solution popular in many empires was segregation. The Europeans had incorrectly identified Africans as the main carriers of the disease; African children under five were believed to be the main source of malaria so they were to be kept far away from the colonists at all times.

And so, many powers decided that the European settlers should be housed in their own separate areas. (Of course, this wrong headed but at least rational response wasn’t the whole explanation: often, sanitary concerns were used to veil simple racial chauvinism.)

The affluent Hill Station – a name reminiscent of the Indian colonies – in Freetown, Sierra Leone was built as a segregated suburb so Europeans could keep well clear of the local children. Today, it’s where the home of the president can be found. Yet despite all this expensive shuffling of Freetown’s urban landscape, inhabitants of Hill Station came down with malaria at about the same as those who lived elsewhere.

 

The Uganda Golf Course, Kampala. Image: Google Maps.

In Kampala, Uganga, a golf course now occupies the land designated by the British powers to protect the European neighbourhood from the African. A similar appropriation can be seen in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of The Congo, where a zoo, botanical garden and another golf course can be found the land earmarked for protecting colonial officials and their families.

All this urban juggling was the privilege of immensely powerful colonial officials, backed up by the military might of the imperial powers. The indigenous peoples could do little but watch as their cities were bulldozed and rebuilt based on the whims of the day. Yet the scars are still visible in the fabric of many modern African cities today.