London’s mainline train station districts, already undergoing their biggest change since the great 19th-century railway boom, are in line for a further boost that will cement their position as sought-after hotspots for central city living.
The multibillion-pound transport and housing programme launched by Prime Minister Theresa May will include Crossrail 2 — the north-south link that will complement the east-west route opening in 2018 — along with a Bakerloo Tube line extension through suburban south London, with details expected to be announced in the Autumn Statement later this month.
Exclusive research for Homes & Property by estate agent eMoov shows prices in these areas have risen by up to 10 per cent more than the London average during the last five years. The rise is forecast to continue, as location and fast transport links are now a top priority for busy professionals seeking a short commute.
King’s Cross is not the only place where ambitious regeneration is transforming a previously undesirable or unglamorous area. Swish new homes, good-looking shops and offices are changing the streets and skyline at Paddington, Victoria, Waterloo, Euston, Liverpool Street and London Bridge.
Station districts went into serious decline in the mid-20th century, their tone set by seedy B&Bs, rough sleepers and drifters. But King’s Cross led the way and these fast-improving neighbourhoods are fashionable again.
1. London Bridge
Average price: £836,140
This station is being completely rebuilt as part of the £6.5 billion Thameslink railway project. What was a spillover location for City companies is now a business district in its own right, crowned by the Shard, a “vertical town” with more than 10,000 employees in this striking glass tower.
Remarkably, 30 acres of offices and commercial space have been created above the single acre of land on which the Shard is built.
Sellar Property Group, developer of the Shard, has drawn up plans for further tall buildings alongside London Bridge station. Shard Place, currently under way, is the first wholly residential block, offering 148 apartments in a 26-storey tower.
While the Shard has cemented the area’s new status, the regeneration challenge is to integrate the tower with a mainly small-scale area that includes medieval lanes and passageways. Redevelopment has involved cutting new viaducts through ancient Borough Market while at the same time improving street-level space for stallholders and shoppers.
Big and small apartment schemes are sprouting up in the hinterland behind the station. Snowsfields Yard has 28 boutique flats tucked away between an old mission hall and Victorian shopfronts. Crest, the developer, has packed in lots of space-creating, added-value design features including bay windows and big, usable terraces. Prices from £765,000 to £1.25 million. Call 020 3002 5453.
Taper Building in Long Lane has 56 apartments priced from £595,000. Call KFH on 020 3486 2250.
Average price: £1,189,183
The Victorians built handsome garden squares and imposing stucco terraces on the acres between Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s Paddington terminus and Hyde Park. After the Second World War, many of the grand townhouses were converted into shabby bedsits and backpacker hotels and by the Seventies, Paddington had the fastest population turnover in London, a place of “bewildering cosmopolitanism”, according to author Peter Ackroyd.
Travellers passing through the station today are largely unaware of the redesigned 80-acre canal basin, once a closed-off industrial zone but now a boisterous urban area with outdoor entertainment in summer, opened up by new towpaths and footbridges.
The splendid original station has been given a major facelift and knitted into this enclave, while a showpiece new Crossrail station now nearing completion has triggered a fresh wave of development, making it the biggest regeneration scheme in Westminster borough. It covers an area the size of Soho and comprises 13 individual projects with oceans of office space and more than 4,000 new homes. Vastly improved public spaces include Sheldon Square, built around a grass amphitheatre that hosts the live music events in summer.
Scruffy Praed Street is getting a makeover, with new station entrances, a piazza and shopping parade, plus a stunning glass cube-shaped building of homes and offices designed by Shard architect Renzo Piano.
Property analyst JLL predicts prices in this microzone will increase by 15 per cent by 2020, more than the rest of London. Paddington Exchange is the latest new homes launch here, with 123 apartments in three linked pavilion buildings rising to 14 storeys. Prices from £975,000. Call developer Taylor Wimpey on 020 3376 6289.
Average price: £1,717,529
Part of the prestigious SW1 postcode, Victoria station for decades delivered hordes of civil servants to the ministries in Whitehall, a soulless boulevard that was dead after they all went home at the end of the working day. However, the transformation today is nothing short of dramatic.
A £4 billion project is sweeping away the grey-slab office blocks, replacing them with human-scale homes and a theatre, while interesting shops are arriving in landscaped courtyards, passages and new squares.
The latest focus is a five-and-a-half-acre island site opposite the station. Called Nova, it has five fresh buildings including a block of 170 flats, plus new pedestrian links through to St James’s Park. Prices from £1,925,000. Call 020 7409 8756. And at 55 Victoria Street, a Sixties office block has been remodelled into 54 rental flats with a residents’ sky garden. Call 01246 223142.
Since 2009 prices in Victoria have jumped 88 per cent, more than any other “prime” London area.
Average price: £1,160,250
The Government’s backing for a new super-terminal at Euston to accommodate High Speed 2 paves the way for a complete redevelopment of the station. The tatty neighbourhood around it will be transformed into a lively quarter, barely half a mile from born-again King’s Cross/St Pancras where 50 new streets have been created.
The current unloved station, dating back to 1962, replaced the once-famous Euston Arch, a classical 1837 portico, which campaigners want reinstated as a spectacular monument. The available 15 acres of railway land is big enough for a Canary Wharf-size estate. Nearby Regent’s Park will set the property prices — but there are still pockets of good value near the station.
Check out Somers Town. When first developed in the late 18th century it was envisaged as a middle-class address but suffered when the London and Birmingham Railway cut through the area in the 1830s. Later it was mainly given over to council housing.
Another micro spot to watch is around Drummond Street, best known for curry restaurants, where gentrification has taken hold. Meanwhile, on the patch north of the station towards Mornington Crescent, a former Bhs branch is earmarked for redevelopment.
5. Liverpool Street
Average price: £930,037
The Great Eastern Railway’s first London terminus was at Shoreditch but Liverpool Street station was built in the 1870s to bring the line closer to the City.
Today it sits right on the boundary of those two buzzing places, both of which will be big beneficiaries of Crossrail trains stopping at the station and slashing journey times to Canary Wharf, central London and Heathrow. The Stage, on the Shoreditch side, has 412 homes on land where Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet and Henry V plays were first performed.
Archaeological remains of the original stage will be encased in glass as part of a new heritage centre with a 200-seat sunken amphitheatre. Show flats in refurbished railway arches are part of the 1.2-acre site. Prices from £695,000. Call 020 3770 2154.
Average price: £836,140
Rejuvenation is coming to fruition in the quarter around Waterloo station, London’s busiest commuter hub and the UK’s largest, covering nearly 25 acres. The iconic Shell Centre has been transformed into 877 new homes called Southbank Place, with prices from £1,050,000. Call 020 7001 3600.
The station itself is getting an über-smart £1.3 billion refurbishment, while its disused Eurostar terminal is to be brought back to life for commuter services and possibly a retail mall. Elizabeth House, a Sixties eyesore that runs the length of the station along York Road, is to be replaced with 142 flats and offices, while boutique flats are being created along Lower Marsh, a lively 160-year-old street market.
Despite its growing cachet, Waterloo remains a good-value Zone 1 address, within the price range of many first-time buyers. It has a community feel and a colourful urban residential mix, with pretty Victorian terraces such as Roupell Street, charitable and church housing, cared-for council estates, boutique flats and sweeping waterfront apartments.
Valentine Place is a low-rise scheme of 42 flats and mews houses tucked away moments from the Old Vic and Young Vic theatres. Prices from £699,995. Call 020 3437 1294.