We’re in the middle of the athletics season so each week is a different country at the moment, but Peckham is always going to feel like home.
I was born and raised here, it’s where I come back to to chill, to eat, to do fun stuff — and visit my grandma.
It’s quite expensive to find anywhere to live around Peckham at the moment but I’d love to raise a family here one day.
Eating and drinking
My favourite pub is Prince of Peckham in Clayton Road, it’s my summer spot but it’s good year-round really. I’ve been going there for years, they do amazing music, great events and the best chicken wings in London.
Little Kudu is in the old Smokey Kudu space in Queen’s Road and is an intimate bar that’s great for dates. Then the Kudu restaurant down the road is good, too.
Peckham Levels in Rye Lane has something for everyone. What’s mad is that it’s the old car park my mum and I used to go to all the time. Now it’s all colourful; a vibrant community space for music, events and food.
Plantain Kitchen in Rye Lane is a Nigerian restaurant where we get jollof rice, suya and plantain. I’m half Nigerian so I’m quite a harsh critic but it’s really good there.
There’s also JB’s Soul Food on the high street which does authentic Caribbean food. All the locals go there, it’s one of my favourite spots.
Everyone thinks athletes are like robots but we definitely get downtime, when I pick somewhere to eat in that time it’s always one of these places around home.
Where I work out
As a professional athlete there aren’t many occasions I exercise just for fun! It’s usually in quite controlled environments. That said, my love for sport was definitely birthed in Peckham.
It’s built-up, it’s busy, but there are so many green spaces — and Peckham Rye Park. We had big family cricket days there, and it’s where I learned how to sprint for the first time with my dad.
I’ve also heard good things from friends about Afrobeats Yoga at Hot Yoga in Peckham Rye so I’m keen to give that a go soon.
To commune with nature
Peckham Rye Park and Common, of course, but in the park there are different sections to visit. The Sexby Garden is really quiet, with beautiful flowers, and it feels like you’re in a different world. It’s one of my favourite places, a real nature spot in an inner-city place. We’re also close to green spaces in Camberwell and Dulwich Park isn’t far.
Rye Lane Market runs between Peckham Rye and the high street. It’s where I think of when I need ingredients from home or Nigeria or from the Caribbean that you’re unlikely to get anywhere else. I remember my mum bartering with the butchers there. It’s a place so built on culture and food, and you can feel that on the high street.
There are big chains like Morrisons and Iceland, too, but I much prefer buying local when I can.
For a culture fix
I went to see The Waiting Room by Sarah Sze the other day — it’s a transformed Victorian waiting room at Peckham Rye station with a really atmospheric sphere of different flickering screens, exploring how we live with tech and our smart phones. I saw it all over TikTok and knew I had to go to that one – it’s well worth a trip.
Peckham Plex cinema still has £4.99 tickets, it’s been like that since I was a baby, and the Library is a must. When I think of Peckham that’s the first place that comes to mind, it’s a huge copper and steel building, I’ve loads of memories there.
Peckham Platform is a local charity that runs workshops and arty events — their Small Island Vibes weekend in Peckham Square last year had brilliant art and music performances.
There’s also a restaurant called Jumbi in the Copeland Park at the back of the Bussey Building which is one for people who love music, old school records and a really good vibe. The food is decent too. There are so many hidden spots.
I drive — my grandma seems to have enough free parking permits for everyone and anyone. There’s also Peckham Rye station on the Overground which gets me to central London in under 30 minutes.
Anywhere around ‘Bellenden Village’ which is a couple of streets with Victorian and Edwardian homes around Bellenden Road. It’s what I love about Peckham, you’ve got the chaos of the busy high street but you can turn a corner and find a super quiet road with beautiful period properties — a little pocket of serenity.
Something you only see in Peckham
Cultures blending together is London’s thing, but in Peckham it really feels like one community. Everyone’s on the same page, no matter when they lived there or what they do. There’s a real sense of togetherness that, having moved around lots of different places, I’ve yet to find anywhere else. There’s nowhere like Peckham.
What’s the catch?
It’s chaotic, all the time, it never sleeps. It’s become hugely popular in recent years with heaps of gentrification and it’s become a bit of a tourist attraction at night. If you love London chaos, it’s the place for you. If you don’t, maybe it’s not. With every summer it seems to feel way busier, with way more going on – it reminds me of Shoreditch now.
I’d absolutely love to buy a home around here but I’m just not sure it’s going to be possible which is hard to imagine as it was not a desirable place to live growing up. Now, if you want to buy an ex-council house you’re spending half a million pounds.
In three words
Home. Community. Colourful.
Imani-Lara is a Team GB sprinter and will compete at the World Athletics Championships in Budapest (August 19 – 27)
What it costs
Buying in Peckham
Average flat price: £407,510
Average house price: £872,470
Renting in Peckham
Average flat: £1,874 pcm
Average house: £2,955 pcm
Source: Hamptons & Land Registry
John Donne Primary School and St Thomas the Apostle College are rated Outstanding by Ofsted. Oliver Goldsmith Primary School, Belham Primary, St James the Great Roman Catholic Primary, Harris Primary Free School and Harris Academy are all rated Good.