The gracious old naval town of Greenwich will be thrust into the global spotlight on Sunday when more than 40,000 marathon runners set off from the royal park against the magnificent backdrop of Wren architecture, the River Thames and the gleaming skyscrapers of Canary Wharf.
As well as a sporting challenge, the 26-mile route ending at Buckingham Palace is an opportunity for a fascinating property search through a fast-changing swathe of London where house price hikes of recent years will leave many runners gasping for breath.
Homes along every mile of the route have more than tripled in value since 2000. Yet while the average price now stands at almost £700,000, boosted by the gold-plated streets of St James’s, where properties typically cost £1.6m, there are much cheaper areas where regeneration is making a huge difference and the investment outlook for buyers is promising.
Spectacular panoramas courtesy of aerial television cameras will reveal how the capital’s centre of gravity is inexorably shifting east, with countless housing projects beyond Tower Bridge.
Transport upgrades, notably Crossrail (the Elizabeth Line), are increasing the allure of eastern districts too — not just riverside neighbourhoods but historic inner suburbs such as low-profile Charlton and leafy Blackheath.
And former outposts are no longer a cultural desert either. Woolwich is getting a £31 million cultural quarter — two theatres and rehearsal studios, artists’ spaces and outside performance areas at the old Royal Arsenal ammunitions factory — while Poplar, where English National Ballet is opening a sparkling new campus, already has an Art Line Walk.
Developers are seizing the moment by opening show homes, so if you’re a marathon spectator put on your walking boots and as the runners fade into the distance go on a property marathon and search for your new home.
EAST LONDON'S PROPERTY SPOTS TO WATCH
For details of all new homes for sale, see gallery
WOOLWICH: 4 MILES
A new Crossrail station in 2018 is a genuine game-changer for the area, slashing journey times to Canary Wharf and Tottenham Court Road to eight and 19 minutes respectively.
Royal Arsenal Riverside, a former munitions factory with dozens of prized listed buildings, is Woolwich’s best address — a new neighbourhood hub with shops, eateries, bars and a monthly farmers’ market. Covering 88 acres, it brings more than 5,000 homes plus the Crossrail station and a riverbus pier.
GREENWICH: 7 MILES
Runners will skirt past Greenwich Peninsula, a seemingly uninviting tract of waterfont land, recognisable as the home of the O2 arena.
This newly created neighbourhood was conceived when John Major was prime minister and later was embraced by Tony Blair, who endorsed the building of the Millennium Dome, a giant big top, as a symbol of optimism for London, in the spirit of the 1951 Festival of Britain.
Now a £1 billion masterplan for a 15,720-home district with shops and offices, schools and community spaces and facilities has been unveiled, crowned by spectacular tapering towers designed by renowned architect Santiago Calatrava. Several glass-clad apartment blocks are already under construction and homes are available to buy off-plan now. Prices start at £530,000. Call 020 3713 6153.
DEPTFORD: 8 MILES
Deptford and Greenwich were previously divided by a derelict land buffer called Creekside, but regeneration is forging the two places together.
Certainly Deptford is appealing to a wider audience. It has a creative vibe rippling out from Goldsmith’s College, a fast-improving high street, cool cafes and music venues and enviably-quick transport connections — just six minutes on the train to London Bridge and a short DLR hop to Docklands.
ROTHERHITHE: 10 MILES
This is a handy halfway point on the Jubilee line between Canary Wharf and the West End. But the former docks district is beginning to offer more than merely one of the easiest possible commutes to work.
A second-wave of regeneration is creating a new waterfront zone next to Canada Water tube station, where work is underway on the first of several thousand new homes by developers Notting Hll Housing and British Land.
Historic Marychurch Street, a cobbled conservation area from where the Pilgrim Fathers set sail to North America in 1620, is arguably the area’s best address, with several wharves and warehouses converted into loft apartments. A hidden gem is South Dock Marina, London’s largest, with 200 berths and a watersports centre.
Formerly fragmented bits of Bermondsey and Rotherhithe are joining up too, with development spreading from smart Shad Thames along Jamaica Road, which used to be quite grim but now has a strip of cafes and bars, while an overspill of gourmet food outlets from Borough Market has sprouted up in refurbished railway arches.
CANARY WHARF: 19 MILES
At Canary Wharf, a new wave of luxury skyscrapers is pushing up prices. The latest launch is One Park Drive, a corn-cob shaped 58-storey tower designed by Tate Modern architects Herzog & de Meuron. Prices start at £575,000 for a studio and £1,080,000 for a two-bedroom apartment. Call 020 7001 3800.
POPLAR: 20 MILES
Poplar, half the price of nearby Canary Wharf, was dominated by council estates and post-industrial eyesores, a rough working class district where house builders feared to tread. But being close to Canary Wharf has helped transform its fortunes. East City Point has Help to Buy flats starting at £325,000. Call 020 7473 1198. Coming soon is Blackwall Reach. Call CBRE on 020 7519 5900.
LIMEHOUSE: 21 MILES
This district is littered with gorgeous warehouse conversions and smart new-build blocks. Sunday’s marathon runners will have passed the 20-mile mark — many of them having hit and gone past “the wall” — by the time they make their way along Narrow Street, a Georgian gem that has been called home by distinguished actor Sir Ian McKellen and politician Lord Owen.
WAPPING & SHADWELL: 13 and 22 MILES