Central hotspots for first-time buyers

New crisp-interior homes, within a bike ride of the main business areas, are helping young City workers stay in the capital
At Haggerston Square, L&Q is redeveloping two former Hackney council estates (0844 406 9997)
At Haggerston Square, L&Q is redeveloping two former Hackney council estates (0844 406 9997)
Young people are probably not going to be able to afford the luxury of living in the capital’s main business districts, but on the fringes of the West End, the City and Canary Wharf there is a whole basket of property in good locations at a variety of prices to suit first-time buyers and City workers who want to rent or buy.

Areas falling into this catchment include King’s Cross, Shoreditch, Whitechapel, Wapping, Euston, Dalston, Bethnal Green, Bow, Bermondsey, Rotherhithe, Walworth and Kennington.

Most people are happy to walk to work if it takes no more than 30 minutes - quicker if jogging or on a Boris bike. You can get fit and save on commuting costs at the same time.

Nick Davies, of estate agent Stirling Ackroyd, advises would-be buyers to search in the "outer ring" just beyond the congestion charge zone. He cites the Hackney and Islington sections of the Regent’s Canal as regeneration hotspots in travel Zone 2. At Kingsland Basin, which is emerging as a hub for creatives priced out of Clerkenwell, a £65 million project is bringing 207 new homes, a health centre, café, shops and offices.

Developer London & Quadrant housing association is also restoring two listed, stable buildings for studios and workshops for small businesses. Eco-zones on the edges of the basin will be planted with native species to attract birds and other wildlife.

Haggerston Square has been given a boost by the East London line extension. There, L&Q is redeveloping two former Hackney council estates located either side of the Regent’s Canal, creating 750 new homes. The first are available in May 2011. These will be a mix of shared-ownership, rented and private sale homes. To register, call 0844 406 9997 or visit lqgroup.org.uk.

Saunders Apartments, close to Mile End station, is located in what developer Telford Homes calls the "golden triangle" (formed by the City, Canary Wharf and the Olympic Park). Prices start at £207,500. Call 0800 883 8623.

From £305,000: City IT consultant Todd Wade bought at Grange Gardens in Bermondsey (0800 334 5184)
From £305,000: City IT consultant Todd Wade bought at Grange Gardens in Bermondsey (0800 334 5184)
Bermondsey is one of the "fashionable fringe" locations. Bermondsey Central, a new scheme moments from Tower Bridge, is cheaper than expected because it occupies a quadrant of land edging a railway viaduct. But it is close to all the SE1 action - Shad Thames, Borough Market and Bankside - and a short walk across the river to the Square Mile.

From the upper floors of these crisply designed apartments the location comes into its own, with splendid views of Tower Bridge and the City and the bonus of glorious sunsets. One-, two- and three-bedroom flats are for sale, priced from £250,000. Call King Sturge on 020 7078 7979.

Grange Gardens, also in Bermondsey, is due for completion in May, 2011. There are 63 apartments, priced from £305,000. Call 0800 334 5184. Todd Wade, an IT consultant who works for City financial services companies, bought a flat there. He says: "Bermondsey is seriously up-and-coming and has a great vibe. It has the convenience factor, too."

The first affordable homes at King’s Cross Central, former railway yards behind the station, will be ready in 2012. Contact onehousinggroup.co.uk. The 67-acre site is being turned into a new business district, with 2,000 homes, 20 new streets and 10 major public spaces.

£112,000 for a quarter share: apartments at Crabtree Place in Fitzrovia (020 7209 0300)
£112,000 for a quarter share: apartments at Crabtree Place in Fitzrovia (020 7209 0300)
Shared-ownership homes are available in the beating heart of the capital, too. At Crabtree Place, Fitzrovia, buyers can get on the ladder for £112,000, which is the minimum 25 per cent share of the £450,000 open-market price. These smart homes are being sold by Origin housing association. People living or working in Camden borough have priority. Call 020 7209 9300.

Buying can be much cheaper than renting, says the Octavia housing association, which is selling Grand Union Apartments, part of a swish canalside development at Paddington Basin. Prices start at £98,000 for a 25 per cent share of a one-bedroom flat. Combined rent and mortgage payments plus service charge total £992 a month. Renting the same flat would cost £781 a month more. Call 0845 130 1422.


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