Over recent years the City’s fringes have been targeted by buyers determined to live within walking distance of the Square Mile. Aldgate is at the heart of this boom, with a series of developments breathing life into an area that was once dominated by suited insurance brokers by day, and quiet as the grave after 7pm.
The largest of these new schemes is Goodman’s Fields, a 1,000-home development at Leman Street. It is being built on a site where centuries ago, working horses would be taken for some well-deserved grazing R&R, and a series of monumental bronze horses has been commissioned to decorate the site in acknowledgement of the animals’ vital role in Victorian life.
Buying a property outright at Goodman’s Fields will require a serious City salary. Happily, however, housing association Peabody has 40 shared-ownership homes on the site earmarked for young Londoners on low to medium wages.
The homes, at The Cavallo Goodman’s Fields, go on sale at the beginning of next month and will be ready to move into by September, but expressions of interest are being taken now. Prices start at £148,750 for a 25 per cent share of a one-bedroom flat which would cost £595,000 on the open market.
Two-bedroom apartments start at £176,250, again for a 25 per cent share for properties with an open market value of more than £700,000.
Sarah Butler, sales & marketing director at Peabody, said the flats will go to buyers who live in Tower Hamlets or have a close connection to the borough. This is a high-end development being built by Berkeley Homes, and facilities already up and running include an Urban Fitness gym and a gastropub, both in Leman Street, plus a supermarket, a café and a hotel.
The scheme will take another four years to complete, so for a while, early residents will have to learn to love views of cranes and workmen.
“The Cavallo is arranged around a central plaza and is surrounded by two acres of beautifully landscaped open space,” says Butler. “These contemporary new homes are design led and in a vibrant neighbourhood, with good transport connections and social and cultural attractions right on the doorstep.
“Whether you enjoy cinema, live music, theatre, fine art, or indeed just about any kind of entertainment you can imagine, you will find it within easy reach of Goodman’s Fields.”
A huge advantage of this Zone 1 location is that you can walk everywhere. Shoreditch and Hoxton are just to the north, Whitechapel is to the east, and the City is to the west. Head south and you are at Tower Hill for a mooch along the Thames.
Whitechapel Art Gallery, Wilton’s Music Hall and Spitalfields Market are within a 10-minute walk, and the Barbican, Shakespeare’s Globe theatre and Tate Modern are all about a 30- to 40-minute hike, as is St Katharine Docks.
There are plenty of coffee shops in Leman Street, and several neighbourhood restaurants, plus the consistently enjoyable Café Spice Namaste in Prescot Street, just around the corner. Should you need to get on the Tube you can pick up the Circle or Metropolitan lines from Aldgate, or the Hammersmith & City and District lines from Aldgate East.
Whitechapel is just one stop away, and from 2018 it will have Crossrail services running to both the West End and Heathrow.
Private-sale homes at Goodman’s Fields start at £900,000 for a one-bedroom flat, £1.25 million for a two-bedroom flat, and from £1,475,000 for a three-bedroom flat. There are also penthouses, priced at £5 million. Visit berkeleygroup.co.uk.
THE KNOWLEDGE: ALDGATE
Past: Aldgate was once the easternmost gateway of the London Wall which encircled the City to protect it from attack and invasion — and keep out the riffraff.
Future: by the end of 2020 there will be a total of 1,057 new homes on the seven-acre Goodman’s Fields site.
Trivial pursuit: the water pump in Aldgate High Street has a grizzly past. In the 19th century several people died after drinking from it and investigations subsequently revealed its water was contaminated with bacteria from decaying bodies in nearby graveyards.
What it costs: the average E1 home sells for just under £550,000, up £50,000 in six months according to Rightmove.
First-time buy: it’s not exactly ideal first-timer territory but estate agent Marsh & Parsons has a one-bedroom flat with a roof terrace in Cavell Street, (above), on the border with Stepney, on the market for 360,000.
Landmarks: the curvaceous, neo-futuristic City skyscraper 30 St Mary Axe — perhaps better known by its nickname, The Gherkin — and the Bevis Marks Synagogue, the oldest in the UK.
Eat: posh Greek food (bio-dynamic olives anyone?) at The Hungry Donkey in Wentworth Street.
Drink: a pint of guest ale at The Dispensary in Leman Street, which has twice been named Camra Pub of the Year.
Buy: since you are in the East End, sample jellied eels, cockles or pickled herring fresh from Petticoat Lane Market, and browse the vast array of trash and treasure on more than 1,000 stalls.
Walk: there’s precious little greenery in this neck of the woods, other than tiny Swedenborg Gardens. The best option for getting a breath of fresh air is to walk the half-mile to St Katharine Docks, where you can admire the yachts.