Transport upgrades are the single most important factor boosting local housing markets, according to many property experts. And right now is a golden time in London for transport-led regeneration, with Crossrail, Tube and Overground extensions, plus improvements under way to the mainline rail network, Thameslink and suburban services.
In the longer term, the High Speed 2 rail link to Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds promises an even better-connected capital, together with the ambitious rebuilding of Euston station and a rail super-hub, part of a new district at Old Oak Common in west London.
Not only is spruced-up transport making it easier and quicker to get to and from work, the areas around new and upgraded stations are getting a boost.
London’s population is expected to grow by a million over the next 20 years, and transport strategists are looking beyond Crossrail to help cope with the swelling number of commuters. One objective is better integrated transport, linking rail, Tube and bus services, and even river taxis.
Next year Transport for London will take over the West Anglia main line route from Liverpool Street to Stansted airport and Cambridge. Part of the deal involves upgrading 23 stations along the way. With a 5,500-acre portfolio, TfL is one of the capital’s biggest landowners and has identified 75 sites for property schemes. It also plans to throw open stations to grocery and coffee shop chains and electronics retailers, and expects to introduce a 24-hour Tube service.
By 2020, a Northern line spur from Kennington to Battersea will bring two new stations, one at Vauxhall and another at Nine Elms, cementing the transformation of an area that will have 16,000 new homes.
“Boris bike” docks, which stretch from Lambeth to Hackney and from Southwark to Maida Vale, are also causing property ripples around Tube stations, particularly in more affordable areas on the congestion charge fringe, as cyclists can take advantage of the 30-minute free-of-charge period to get to work and back, says estate agent Benham Reeves. Urban “backwaters” such as Walworth, postcode SE17, are becoming rental hotspots as a result.
Between the lines
Home buyers these days are becoming more astute investors, getting in early to cherry-pick properties in areas likely to benefit from transport changes, in order to reap big future rewards. While Crossrail will be a major transport artery, the 12 Tube lines are London’s transport veins - and an obvious starting point for any city home search.
The recently extended East London line through Hackney and south to Crystal Palace and Croydon demonstrates how a new route can open up previously little-known areas and push up underlying property values.
Analysis prepared for Homes & Property by Savills shows that homes in travel Zones 1 and 2 have risen in price the most during the last five years, by up to 113 per cent, with West End addresses recording the biggest hike.
“This is prompting more buyers to search in Zone 3 and beyond, where they can get more for their money, but there are cheaper central areas where homes are still relatively affordable,” says Lucian Cook, director of Savills Research. Today we launch a new series analysing the Tube map and revealing development hotspots and “opportunity” areas along each line. First, the Bakerloo line comes under our microscope in the search for pockets of hidden value.
House hunting along the Bakerloo line
Average house prices: for each of the 25 stops on the Bakerloo line
Running from Elephant & Castle in the south to Harrow & Wealdstone in the north, the Bakerloo line cuts through the heart of London, taking in the most expensive central postcodes. Yet the disparity in Zone 1 property values along the route is striking. Elephant & Castle stands out as good value. It is an area very much on the up, with hundreds of new homes being built by developer Lend Lease in the core regeneration zone.
Launching in April is Elephant Park, with apartments and houses surrounding the largest new park in London for 70 years. Travel five stops - taking about nine minutes - on the line from Elephant & Castle to Piccadilly and average prices rise from £334,819 to £1,331,997.
Launching April 2014: houses and flats at Elephant Park
This is another rising star, and where a mayoral vision for a revitalised quarter around the station is coming to fruition. Redevelopment of the Shell Centre area of the South Bank with 877 homes plus shops, offices and restaurants is the major project, expected later this year. Beyond the station, Waterloo appears workaday but has a charming urban residential mix - pretty Victorian terracest, charitable and church housing, cared-for council estates and niche flat schemes. Linden is soon to unveil 86 homes on Blackfriars Road.
Kilburn and Kensal Green
From £635,000: for a new-build apartment at The Coachworks in Kensal Green. Call 020 8960 0181.
Both are seen as promising Zone 2 areas, in that they area close-in, straight up Edgware Road from Marble Arch and nearer to the centre than, say, Hammersmith or Hackney. “Kilburn is definitely a place to watch if you are looking for a well-connected home,” says Jackie Sadek, chief executive of government agency UK Regeneration. “It is brilliantly located and has a diverse community.” Kensal Green is attracting buyers priced out of Queen’s Park. The Coachworks, a new-build scheme of six flats, has prices from £635,000. Call Mountgrange Heritage on 020 8960 0181.
This Zone 3 station is the cheapest Bakerloo line location. It has a hard urban edge and was once avoided by home buyers because of gang crime. But the area’s potential is slowly being recognised by junior City workers seeking housing association fair rents, shared-ownership deals and flats below the £250,000 stamp duty threshold - available at New Stonebridge Park, part of £225 million regeneration bringing 1,400 homes. Call Hyde housing association on 0845 6061221.
A couple of stops further on, Wembley is also in transition with a new district, Wembley City, being built around the stadium with round-the-clock amenities for locals - a factor previously missing.
From £264,500: for a two-bedroom flat at Stadium Reach, Wembley. Call Network Living on 0844 809 9148.
Quintain, the developer, talks of bringing West End-style glitz and glamour, with fashion boutiques, bars, nightclubs and destination restaurants alongside the established concert and entertainment venues. London’s first Wembley City designer outlet has already opened. Stadium Reach, one of the new local residential schemes, has two-bedroom apartments for sale from £264,500. Call Network Living on 0844 809 9148.