Is it time for Clifton to leave Bristol?
What happened to Clifton? Is it just an outpost of Fulham or Kensington in London, with gastro-pubs, high-end jewellers, coffee shops boutiques and dog spas?
Is it time to say “Clifton it’s not ,you it’s us. We’ve moved on. It’s been nice knowing you but now it’s time to go our separate ways, we’ve grown apart, we want separate things, you obviously like London so why not join them? We’ll get on with our lives, you get on with yours, oh and by the way we are keeping the (Suspension) Bridge.”
London is no longer a UK city, it is a World city so it has more in common with New York, Hong Kong, or Sydney than it does with Leicester, Exeter or Newcastle. The same can be said of Clifton. It has more in common with Hampsted, Richmond and Chelsea than it does with Totterdown, St George or Downend.
How has this come to be?
It wasn’t always thus. Yes it has always been upmarket, but it always had its fair share of rogues and character who made it interesting and slightly edgy. There were proper businesses that served the locality, shops like The Sportsman, a proper sports shop, that sold cricket bats and tennis rackets and studs for your rugby boots. There were pubs that had their own character, Willie Lorang running The Royal Oak, dodgy deals going on in the back bar of The Greyhound. Clifton was a place where Bristol mingled; now it is a place where yummy mummys spend £100 on a tin of Farrow and Ball paint.
Until quite recently Clifton was an affordable place to live, yes the decor was a bit iffy, and heating was a 2 bar electric fire but it was affordable. There were expensive apartments but they were just about affordable for young professionals. In 1992 we let a flat to Derren Brown on Caledonia Place for £30 per week. That exact flat is now let for £300 per week. That is a 1,000% increase. No wonder Clifton has become an enclave of London, if you are paying London prices for property then Clifton looks cheap.
For example if you owned this 3 bedroom house in Fulham and sold it for the asking price...
... you could buy this 5 bedroom house in Clifton and still have £275,000 in cash left over, added to that the better quality of life that Bristol offers is it any wonder that Clifton is leaving the rest of Bristol behind?
I know what you are saying. That is all very well but the commute to London from Bristol is such that it is not attractive to most Londoners. To which my reply would be “Electrification is coming” At some point between 2018-2020 the mailine from Bristol to London will be fully electrified. This will mean that the journey will be just over an hour and there will be a train to London every 15 minutes. Bristol will then become a commuter city like Oxford or Reading with house prices to match.
Bristol is in danger of losing what makes it special, the question that needs answering is: Can we or should we stop the Londonisation of Bristol. As always I would love to hear your thoughts.