Like Notting Hill and Fulham, Battersea was one of the London areas that began coming up in the 1970s, when people for whom Chelsea and Westminster were too costly started moving there. Battersea’s revolution from solidly working class area to glamorous and aspirational really kicked into top gear in the 1990s and it shows little sign of stopping. With its beautiful park, proximity to the river (and therefore Chelsea), and its ‘King’s Road of South London’ – Northcote Road – it’s an area with huge appeal for families and the young. But what about its services? If you’re moving here, you’ll want to know where and what the best amenities are, from schools to mobile-phone coverage. We’ve taken a look at them all to see if there are some obvious frontrunners.
Mobiles: Who Has the Best Coverage in Battersea?
What could be more frustrating than having the latest all-singing, all-dancing expensive smartphone only to find that as soon as you step away from the safety of your home broadband, your phone’s display is showing only one or two bars of coverage, with web pages either not loading at all, or loading at old-school, dial-up speed? Before you take the plunge, it’s worth doing some due diligence at places such as Ofcom’s Mobile Coverage Checker, where you can type in your postcode and then see a map which will display areas of ‘good coverage’ in dark green and ‘ok coverage’ in pale green. Trying some postcodes at random, such as SW11 1AJ, you’ll see, for example, that Vodafone is almost all ‘good’, 02 comes close with just a little more areas only reaching ‘ok’, the Three network is half and half while EE has large expanses of mere ‘ok’. This is by no means an indication of how these network providers handle the entire borough, but just an illustration of one location. Fortunately, you can gradually expand the map, either by clicking + or -, or if you’re using a tablet then the ‘stretch’ manoeuvre; this will enable you to see each network’s coverage for the entirety of Battersea.
Broadband: Who Is The Best Home WiFi Provider?
Is Battersea hooked up to the most cutting-edge superfast fibre networks? Just what are the best options in the area and do you even need the fastest speeds if you’re a household of just one or two people? Let’s take a look. Using another Battersea postcode (SW11 1PX), among the leading providers, Virgin can get you speeds of 1 gps, BT will reach 330mbps, Sky will peak at 145mbps and EE (“powered by BT”) will get you 68mbps. Plusnet comes in at a max of 72 mbps while the G Network is still in its “register your interest” phase and therefore possibly not yet up and running at that postcode. Community Fibre, on the other hand, is able to go as high as 10gbps (potentially useful if you’re a large business!). You could, of course, use a ‘switch’ or ‘comparison’ website, not forgetting the myriad other providers (Now, TalkTalk, Vodaphone, Hyperoptic, Gigaclear et al), rather than making yourself trawl through each individual provider’s web page. Of course, maximum speeds are only a small fraction of the story (indeed, some ultrafast speeds are completely superfluous for normal households); the tariffs and deals often matter much more.
Utilities: Gas, Electric
With such a plethora of providers and tariffs, it’s hard to pick out clear winners in any given London area, Battersea included. However, the newer, more competitive providers, such as Octopus (a seven-time winner in Which magazine’s awards, thanks to its prices and customer service, plus Uswitch’s Supplier of the Year 2023, and the only energy supplier accredited by the ethical Good Shopping Guide) is active in the area. As with broadband and mobile providers, it’s worth trying some comparison websites, though, rather than taking things on faith. But the signs are that if you’ve been loyal to the big national suppliers, such as British Gas, for years and years, you could be missing out on a deal. British Gas, in particular, blotted its copybook last year, coming lowest in the annual league tables of suppliers, in no small part due to its poor treatment of customers. By comparison, some of its newer competitors, not limited to Octopus but also including Ovo Energy and Ecotricity, shine in the very area of customer service.
Ofsted inspections have become hugely controversial in recent years, with news reports of teaching staff so stressed by them it has sometimes led to suicide. Yet, until they’re reformed they remain the most efficient way of checking a school’s reputation. Ofsted’s own postcode-based checker doesn’t give you easy, at-a-glance indications of a school’s status, but is good if you want to dig deeper into each school’s report. If you want a faster overview, sites such as Locrating make it simple and will include nearby but out-of-borough schools as well as those in the immediate Battersea area. Better yet, its mapping system has an easy-to-follow key in which Outstanding is green, Good is yellow, Requires Improvement is orange, Inadequate is red and Unknown is white. It also has a visual key to separate nursery, primary, secondary, and primary/secondary. Independent schools are marked in blue. Using the map, it’s easy to see, for example, that Langford Primary School is Outstanding, Harris Academy is an Outstanding secondary, and Parkgate House is an Outstanding private secondary.
There are all kinds of ideas about how to find the best GP surgery in your area. Some people believe that going for the one in the smartest, most expensive street is as good a way as any, but no shortage of people have found great, reliable GPs within humble housing estates. On the NHS website, entering your postcode will bring up all the surgeries that cover your area and whether or not they’re accepting new patients, but they won’t give you an impression of quality or reputation. For that, we must turn to other sources, including local press such as the Wandsworth Guardian and the satisfaction scores on Google or Doctify, where you can also read patient reviews. Currently, highly rated are The Falcon Medical Centre, the Lavender Hill Group Practice, The Haider Practice, Chatfield Health Care, Binfield Road Surgery, MyHealthcare Clinic, the SW11 Medical Clinic, as well as various private options, including Pop Up Docs Private GP and DocTap Private GP.