Ealing ticks almost all the boxes for middle-class surburban families who are searching for the advantages of London living with countryside charm - solid, detached Victorian houses with big gardens, plenty of transport links, good schools, varied green space and bistros overlooking Ealing Green and historic Pitshanger Manor for an evening out.
Once people move into the area, they stay loyal to it, says Gary Sinton of estate agents Sinton Andrews (020 8566 1990). “This isn’t a transient market. It’s very local, with lots of families wanting to build community links.”
'Parks and open spaces are plentiful and varied in Ealing'
But loyal residents fear that if developers have their way, the unassuming and slightly shabby Victorian town centre could be overwhelmed with high-rise blocks of flats and offices, straining the infrastructure and distorting the skyline.
Residents and heritage groups secured a victory at the end of last year when the secretary of state refused permission for the Arcadia Centre, seven blocks of shops and flats of up to 26 storeys by Ealing Broadway station. But there is still uncertainty about the future of the site and about how it will fit with the development of the station to handle Crossrail trains, which will stop at Ealing.
Ealing area file
Properties: Ealing has some wonderfully varied architecture, with everything from small Victorian cottages around Haven Green to handsome detached double-fronted houses, also Victorian, in Castlebar and Montpelier, north of Haven Green, built by developers who wanted to make Ealing a smart suburb.
The Brentham estate, north of Pitshanger Lane, is built in distinctive Garden Suburb style with white-washed cottages and small village greens, while the Thirties Haymills estate, east of Hanger Lane, has a mix of Modernist and mock Tudor houses.
Next to West Acton station, Monks Drive has mock Tudor blocks of flats popular with Japanese tenants.
The area attracts: middle-class professionals who want quick links in and out of town without being too central; families who like the schools; Japanese parents who want to be close to the Japanese school in West Acton; and people from Chiswick or Hammersmith wanting more space for their money.
Staying power: very good. Derek Grimshaw of Grimshaw estate agents (020 8992 5661) says: “There’s a lot of movement within the borough - people initially come through work or choice, buy a flat, then move to a house, then a bigger house. The aim is to end up in a £1 million house somewhere like Mount Park.”
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Postcodes: Ealing, W5, around the Broadway and the town centre used to be more expensive than West Ealing, W13, but now there’s not so much in it. Gary Sinton of estate agent Sinton Andrews says: “There used to be a snob attachment to W5, but W5 goes down to South Ealing and some of the good roads north [of the Broadway] are in W13.”
Best streets: Top of the list are roads around Montpelier Park in the Mount Park conservation area, including Park Hill and Mount Park Road, where large double-fronted Victorian houses sell from £1.5 million. Roads overlooking Ealing Common are also sought-after.
Up-and-coming areas: Roads east of West Acton station in the triangle between Noel Road and Saxon Drive are lined with small cottages built for workers on the Great Western Railway and make good starter homes from £350,000. Tucked between the railway line and the Broadway, Hastings Road and Denmark Road are worth a look.
New developments/regeneration: The focus for development is mostly on the town centre, which could be transformed over the next decade if developers have their way. There could potentially be more than 1,000 new homes on the Dickens Yard and Arcadia sites, with shops, offices and a new transport interchange for Crossrail.
Schools: this is the reason why many families move to Ealing, says estate agent Derek Grimshaw. Top-scoring state primaries include North Ealing and Montpelier and there is a clutch of independent secondary schools including Notting Hill and Ealing High (girls) and St Benedict’s (mixed).
Shops and restaurants: The long-running planning battles have left the centre in limbo, with depressing numbers of empty shops around the station.
Ealing as a whole has suffered from the proximity of Westfield just up the A40 and the remaining shops in the Broadway and the Ealing Broadway shopping centre are mostly predictable chains. There are more individual shops and restaurants in Ealing Green and local shopping roads such as Pitshanger Lane near the Brentham estate.
Green space/culture: Parks and open spaces are plentiful and varied, from the formal layout of Walpole Park behind Sir John Soane’s house at Pitshanger Manor, the wide-open space of Ealing Common and the slopes of Hanger Hill Park and Fox Wood, to one of west London’s largest green spaces, Gunnersbury Park. Straddling the boroughs of Ealing and Hounslow and situated in Pope’s Lane, Gunnersbury Park museum, a listed mansion once home to the Rothschild family, is at its heart.
More recently, it is the venue for the annual London Mela, one of the biggest celebrations of Asian culture and creativity in Europe. The restored Ealing Studios overlooking Ealing Green are home to film makers, musicians and artists as well as being a centre of film production.
Transport: Very well connected, with mainline trains to Paddington as well as central and district line Tube links at Ealing Broadway and the Piccadilly line at Ealing Common and South Ealing. Crossrail is also set to run through Ealing Broadway. Getting out of London by car is (in theory) a quick drive down Hanger Lane to the A40 and out to the M4, M40 and M25.
Local council: Ealing (Conservative). Council tax band D £1,369.
Average sale prices
One-bedroom flat: £224,402
Two-bedroom flat: £295,597
Three-bedroom house: £447,068
Four-bedroom house: £605,947
One-bedroom flat: £213,258
Two-bedroom flat: £255,906
Three-bedroom house: £414,807
Four-bedroom house: £559,302
The busiest time for renting is in the summer when people relocate for work or the start of the new school year, says Renate Dilyte, lettings negotiator at Robertson Smith and Kempson (020 8840 7885). The closer to good transport you are, the more expensive it is.
Average lettings prices
One-bedroom flat: £900 pcm to £1,050pcm
Two-bedroom flat: £950 to £1,300pcm
Three-bedroom house: £1,300 to £1,800pcm
Four-bedroom house: £1,700 to £2,400pcm
Pictures by Barry Phillips
All details correct at time of publication (17 February 2010).