Hot homes with fast commutes along London's Crossrail route: from Reading to West Drayton

We find homes along the first stretch of the west-east London Crossrail route - from Reading to West Drayton - that will offer commuters much faster journey times.
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Boosted by Crossrail: a new bus transport hub is part of a £1 billion regeneration of Slough town centre

Complaining about trains is a national pastime but faster, more frequent services and smarter stations make commuting more bearable.

Crossrail, the west-east London route coming in 2018, promises the biggest improvements in decades. It will slash journey times, create new stations and upgrade existing ones, and has the potential bonus of a big boost to property values, especially in currently lower-priced areas along the western section of the route between Reading and West Drayton, where travelling times will decrease markedly.

​“M4 corridor areas are likely to be big winners,” says Johnny Morris, head of research at estate agent Hamptons International. The new link is stimulating a wave of investment and boosting home buying activity — one in 10 sales are within a mile of a Crossrail station.


Research by Hamptons International


Reading is ready for six years of growth
Maidenhead was originally going to be the end of the Crossrail line but the route has been extended to Reading. There is already a super-fast train service into Paddington taking less than 30 minutes, but this year’s decision is  logical. Reading is effectively the capital of the Thames Valley, with several  top 50 global company HQs, and IT and finance firms clustered in green business parks on the periphery. Crossrail will make journeys to and from the business centres of east London much more convenient.


Reading is lobbying for city status on the back of Crossrail, which can only boost the town’s credentials as a place to put down roots or invest. Property company eMoov predicts Reading prices will grow by 50 per cent over the next six years.

About a quarter of office space under construction in the western M4 corridor is in Reading. Along with its already-efficient rail links to Paddington, one of the UK’s fastest-growing commuter routes, the town is also a top 10 shopping destination — plus it has a highly regarded education sector. The council says about 24,000 of the 150,000 Reading residents travel to and from London daily. The station, undergoing a £425 million upgrade, also has a huge catchment of commuters from villages and towns in Berkshire and South Oxfordshire.
From £176,000: apartments at Kennet Island, a 72-acre "quarter" being built on the southern edge of Reading

Kings Mead is a Reading town centre apartment scheme launching in spring next year. Call developer Bellway on 0118 933 8020. Kennet Island is a new 72-acre quarter on the southern edge of the town. Prices start at £176,000. Call 0118 9313 550.

Twyford’s allure
Twyford is another beneficiary of the western extension. “Already it’s a highly desirable village with great schools, fine eateries and a Waitrose. Crossrail can only improve its draw,” says Jonathan Cranley, managing director of local developer Millgate Homes

Woolley Hall, at Littlewick Green, three miles from Maidenhead, is a gated development of impressive houses set in 33 acres of woodland. Apartments are being created in the listed mansion and former stable blocks. Call 0118 934 3344.

Heathrow expansion is also a factor boosting prices in this swathe. Maidenhead, Slough, Iver, Burnham and Langley have the advantage of not being under the Heathrow flight path. Poet John Betjeman wanted to see Slough bombed, but Crossrail is set to help the rehabilitation of this notoriously dreary town. A £1 billion project is under way to create a new library, community centre, ice rink, secondary school and more than 500 homes.

At Kestrel Place, new two-bedroom houses cost from £250,000. Call developer Countryside on 07719 080444.


From £499,500: homes at Cedars Park, a development by Shanly Homes of 32 family houses at Maidenhead

Station story: Maidenhead
The Great Western Railway turned Maidenhead into a commuter town.  Its handsome Victorian red-brick architecture is one of the pluses from that period, unlike the untidy and unimaginative high street.

Now Crossrail is having a regeneration impact with plans to bring the Thames into the heart of town by restoring a stagnant stream into a showpiece navigable waterway. The train station, meanwhile, is getting a Crossrail facelift plus a large new shopping precinct. 

Local house values are at a record level and rising, with strong demand for smaller flats, two-bedroom cottages and four-bedroom family homes. Flats go for between £175,000 and £400,000, while you can get a two-bedroom Victorian terrace house from £375,000 to £425,000, a three- to four-bedroom semi for £500,000-£600,000, and a five-bedroom detached home between £750,000 and £1 million.

“About 30 per cent of buyers are from London, mainly families relocating from west London,” says David Redmond, manager of the local Hamptons branch. “By crossing the M25 divide, they can get much better value for money while enjoying the quick commuter links.”

New developments include Cedars Park, with 32 three- and four-bedroom houses from £499,500. Call Shanly Homes on 07587 415328. Chapel Arches, by the same developer, is a town centre apartment scheme. One for the future is Skindels, a 42-acre site alongside listed Maidenhead Bridge. The Berkeley Homes scheme will bring a new waterfront community of more than 150 homes plus restaurants and an upgraded riverside promenade. Coming soon is Fiennes Park, with large detached homes. Call 01628 722030. Maidenhead town centre currently lacks a wide choice of good-quality shops and amenities, but Bray, Cookham and Taplow are among attractive surrounding areas.


From £149,995: new homes on Reading's Dee Park development. Call 0118 942 0292

We're buying for £60 more a month than we paid in rent
New housing is springing up on the edge of Reading to mop up demand, including the 80-acre Dee Park development, with prices from £149,995. Call 0118 942 0292.

Lee and Margarita Rendell, both 29, above, commute from Reading to their IT jobs in Paddington every day. Unable to afford London prices, they took advantage of the Government’s Help to Buy scheme to purchase a new three-bedroom house with a garden in Reading for £239,999, putting down a £13,000 deposit.

“When we looked at the figures, making the decision to buy was way ahead,” says Lee. “Previously we paid £800 a month in rent, and our mortgage repayments are only a little more at £860 a month. It’s all very easy. We drive to the station each day and catch the train together.”

Just outside the town, dense urban development suddenly gives way to a belt of countryside scattered with small villages, many lining the Thames or other rivers and with listed buildings, conservation  areas and narrow lanes that limit the scale of new development. Local agents say prices are about 10 per cent lower in the Reading area than for comparable properties further west in Oxfordshire.


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