Amid all the economic gloom and housing market uncertainty, one thing is guaranteed: the 2012 Olympics in Stratford will go ahead.
Despite the credit crunch threatening to dilute the legacy benefits of improved infrastructure, better amenities and thousands of new homes, this part of east London should be a much better place to live in three years’ time because of the £9.3 billion being spent on the games.
Arguably, now is a good time to put down roots, if not in the built-up centre of Stratford, then in leafier bordering areas where regeneration ripples are spreading.
One such place is the Lea Valley, where the River Lea and a rejuvenated canal system snake past Victoria Park and Hackney Marshes before reaching the nature reserves and giant reservoirs at Tottenham Hale. Effectively, it is a “regional” country park sprinkled with reminders of the city’s industrial heritage.
Factories, mills and warehouses are being redeveloped and the waterfront is being opened up for recreational use.
Already, the upgraded towpath of the Lea Navigation has become a busy cycle and pedestrian route into Docklands. A few industrial eyesores remain, yet this is a remarkably green swathe of the capital, with parks and unexpected conservation areas. The attractive and hilly Springfield Park neighbourhood in Upper Clapton includes a marina and a rowing club on the River Lea.
Paradise Park (Vision Homes: 0845 838 2088), a scheme of 132 apartments on a 2.5-acre site alongside the River Lea and picturesque Millfields recreation ground, sounds like a modern marketeer’s over-active imagination but takes its name from a Victorian dock built at the height of the Empire to serve a glass works, Indian rubber factory and carbolic acid plant. These manufacturing businesses have long since gone but the rescued listed buildings have been converted into work studios while one will become a museum.
New apartment blocks overlook a “mock” dock and have decked terraces projecting out over the water. The modern architecture fits in inoffensively to the leafy setting. Many apartments have decent-size balconies with views through the trees to the river, and the smart interiors would not be out of place in trendy Islington.
Next to the development are two waterside pubs, one a Sunday jazz venue. Prices start at £185,000 for a one-bedroom flat and rise to £410,000 for a split-level penthouse-type. Underground parking spaces cost £15,000. For more information, call Vision Homes on 0845 838 2088.
Tasteful new signposts (part of the Olympics dividend) on the towpath next to Paradise Park reveal this is part of the Capital Ring walk.
'Tottenham Hale is one of the best-connected transport hubs in London'
Stratford is two miles away. But being in Tube-starved Hackney borough, the nearest rail link is Clapton, which provides 10-minute overground services into Liverpool Street.
Tottenham Hale, three miles to the north, is one of the best-connected transport hubs in London. It is on the Victoria line, has a Black Cab rank and is the major transport interchange between Liverpool Street and Stansted, plus it offers fast commuter services to Cambridge.
Last week, Boris Johnson announced £3 million of extra investment to kickstart the £400 million Hale Village development (Lea Valley Estates: 020 8885 8530), a 12-acre waterside scheme that was in danger of stalling because of the credit crunch.
In the early 1900s this was the famous Harris Lebus furniture factory, then the world’s biggest and most technologically advanced.
Decline set in during the Sixties and after various failed planning applications the site was acquired by Lee Valley Estates, which won consent for an eco-friendly, mixed-used scheme.
The masterplan envisages 1,210 new homes, accommodation for 700 students, a 100-bedroom hotel, primary school, health centre, shops, bars, restaurants, studio spaces and offices. About a third of the new homes will be provided by Newlon Housing Trust, mainly for key workers and shared- ownership buyers. For more information, call Lea Valley Estates on 020 8885 8530.
Vantage Square (Family Mosaic: 020 7089 1315) at Hackney Wick is on the cusp of the Olympic Development zone in a location as urban as you can get (close to railway tracks, the busy Blackwall Tunnel approach roads, car breakers’ yards and business estates) but benefits from spectacular views of the Olympic Village, Docklands and the City.
“It is what it is,” says estate agent Anne Currell. “Less arrived and a little edgy but very good value for money. Buyers can see the potential.”
Prices at the 120-home development by Family Mosaic start at £149,950 for one-bedroom flats. For information, call 020 7089 1315.
Stratford Eye (London & Quadrant: 020 8555 5014) is a 19-storey tower with views across the Olympic park. Developer London & Quadrant is offering shared-ownership options, starting at £63,000 for a 35 per cent share of a one-bedroom flat (full market price, £180,000). For more information, call London & Quadrant on 020 8555 5014.
On Lett Road The Edge (Knight Frank: 020 7473 6820) will be a local landmark when complete later this year. The scheme of 64 flats has an eye-catching cantilevered section jutting out like a giant television monitor above the lower floors and shelters a communal roof terrace.
Apartments include penthouses with double-height interiors. No prices have been set as yet. For more information, call Knight Frank on 020 7473 6820.