Spotlight on Leyton

A traditional affordable area known for its football links is sporting a new look on the High Road, Anthea Masey checks it out
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Unlike its close Olympic neighbour, Stratford, Leyton in east London has no jazzy new tower blocks or ritzy new shopping centre to put on display.
Painters busy along Leyton High road give shops a colourful makeover
© Lucy Young
Teamwork: painters busy along Leyton High road give shops a colourful makeover in a government-funded scheme to prepare for the Olympics

Instead, the local council has concentrated on some low-key but imaginative improvements to the High Road where, almost within sight of the beautiful wooden curves of Hopkins Architects’ Olympic velodrome, the street has been transformed by removing clutter and upgrading the shops with brightly coloured paintwork.

The work has been funded by the Government’s Working Neighbourhoods Fund, and most of the shops have reported an increase in trade. The council also hopes new retailers will be attracted to the area. Mary Portas, the so-called “Queen of Shops”, who has been given the task of saving our high streets, would be delighted.

Leyton has a proud sporting tradition. It is home to League One Leyton Orient — known locally as “the Os” — in Brisbane Road, where new flats have financed the stands, and to non-league Leyton Football Club, known as the Lilywhites, whose ground is in Lea Bridge Road. And one of Leyton’s prettiest buildings is the listed clubhouse at the Leyton Youth Centre, which once housed Essex County Cricket Club.
Attractive homes near the Bakers Arms crossroads
Central location: attractive homes near the Bakers Arms crossroads
Property: Leyton was developed between 1870 and the outbreak of the First World War, and as a result there are roads and roads of mainly three-bedroom terrace houses and purpose-built two-bedroom maisonettes. By London standards Leyton, even though it is only a 15-minute Tube journey to the City, remains affordable, with the price of a three-bedroom terrace house averaging around £275,000.

Sadly though, it is hard to find a house with its original sash windows or front door, and many homes have been defaced with stone cladding and poor-quality replacement windows. The most expensive house currently for sale is a four storey, four-bedroom house in Dawlish Road which estate agent Felicity J Lord (020 8536 0785) is selling for £550,000.

Who buys here?

Dan Ly, of the Leyton branch of estate agents Ellis & Co says buyers are mainly local, although affordable house prices are beginning to attract people from nearby Hackney — where prices are now much higher by comparison. People tend to stay close to their extended families, which gives the place continuity.

Renting: Dan Ly says most renters are professional couples who expect to pay about £800 a month for a one-bedroom flat with some outside space. Buy-to-let investors are also active as yields are high.

Postcode: E10 is the Leyton postcode, but on its northern boundary it strays into SE17, the Walthamstow postcode. On its eastern boundary there are streets falling within the E11 Leytonstone postcode, and to the south it merges with Stratford postcode E15.

Best roads: the large Victorian terrace houses in the roads around Barclay Primary School, in Canterbury Road, are particularly sought after.
Bakers Almshouses in Lea Bridge Road
Character properties: Bakers Almshouses in Lea Bridge Road
What’s new: there is planning permission for 116 new homes and artists’ studios on the site of the Glyn Hopkin car dealership in Ruckholt Road. Agents Gilmartin Ley says the site has generated strong interest and that once a few planning glitches have been resolved it is likely to be sold to a developer. Full details can be found on the Gilmartin Ley website.

Up and coming: there are fine Arts & Crafts-inspired maisonettes built by the famed local builder Warner south of the Lea Bridge Road, in the roads between Perth Road and Seymour Road. Two-bedroom maisonettes sell for around £180,000.

Getting an education

Leyton has a multicultural population; many residents are of Pakistani origin and there has been a newer influx of families from Eastern Europe. As a result, many children arrive in Leyton’s primary schools speaking English as a second language, and this has an effect on results.

Leyton has no primary schools judged “outstanding” by Ofsted, the Government’s education watchdog. However, the following primary schools are judged “good”: Dawlish in Jesse Road, St Joseph’s RC in Marsh Lane and Vicarage Road, Riverley in Park Road, Thomas Gamuel in Colchester Road and Barclay in Canterbury Road.

Of the four state comprehensive schools, only the Connaught School for Girls (ages 11 to 18) gets above average results at GCSE, and is judged “good” by Ofsted.

George Mitchell (co-ed) has recently absorbed a local primary school so now takes pupils from ages three to 18 and the local council has recently been awarded Priority Schools Building Programme funds to rebuild it. George Mitchell is judged “good” by Ofsted, as is the Lammas School (co-ed, ages 11 to 18). The Norlington School for Boys is judged “satisfactory”.
Artist Kartine Storebo paints a mural
Creative space: artist Kartine Storebo paints a mural at the WaterWorks Nature Reserve

Shops and restaurants

Close to Leyton Underground station, the Leyton Mills shopping centre has an Asda, Next and TK Maxx. There are local shops in two locations along the high road: in the south close to the Tube station, and in the north, around the Bakers Arms crossroads at the junction with Hoe Street and Lea Bridge Road, where there is a Tesco.

The shops are predominantly independent but, with the exception of the restored shops at the southern end of the High Road and a number of ethnic stores with good selections of fruit and vegetables (at this time of the year, this is a good place to pick up a box of delicious Alfonso mangoes), the appearance is tatty and down-at-heel. Standing out are Afters ice cream parlour in the High Road — a branch of a small chain — and Hornbeam in Hoe Street, a vegetarian café which runs a book group and poetry and open-mic nights. The Westfield shopping centre is one Tube stop away in Stratford.
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Open spaces

Leyton has a good supply of small local parks and playing fields, such as Coronation Gardens and Sidmouth Park, and the Leyton Youth Centre. The area is close to Epping Forest and the Hackney Marshes and, once open, locals will have direct access to the Olympic Park via a new pedestrian bridge from Ruckholt Road. The WaterWorks Nature Reserve and the nearby Middlesex Filter Beds have a giant hide for bird watching and there is a visitors’ centre in Lammas Road off Lea Bridge Road.

Leisure and the arts

The Leyton Leisure Lagoon on the High Road, close to the Bakers Arms crossroads, is the nearest council-owned swimming pool. There are cinemas in nearby Stratford — the Stratford Picturehouse and the Vue multiplex at Westfield. Stratford East is the nearest theatre.

Travel: Leyton is on the Tube’s Central line, with journey times to Bank of 15 minutes, Oxford Circus 23 minutes, and Canary Wharf with a change at Stratford, 17 minutes. Leyton Midland Road is an Overground station on the Gospel Oak to Barking line; the 55 bus goes to Oxford Circus, the 48 to London Bridge and the 56 to Clerkenwell. The two stations are in Zone 3 and an annual travelcard to Zone 1 costs £1,368.
Volunteers at St Mary the Virgin Church in Grange Park Road
Helping out: volunteers at St Mary the Virgin Church in Grange Park Road
Council: Waltham Forest (Labour controlled; Band D council tax for the 2012/2013 year is £1,458.93.

Average prices

Buying in Leyton
One-bedroom flat £160,000
Two-bedroom flat £180,000
Two-bedroom house £250,000
Three-bedroom house £274,000
Four-bedroom house £324,000
Source: Hometrack

Renting in Leyton
One-bedroom flat £700 to £1,000 a month
Two-bedroom flat £950 to £1,550 a month
Two-bedroom house £1,000 to £1,400 a month
Three-bedroom house £1,150 to £1,450 a month
Four-bedroom house £1,400 to £1,750 a month
Five-bedroom-plus house £1,600 to £2,500 a month

Photographs: Graham Hussey

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