Property experts believe transport-led regeneration produces the biggest boost to an area’s new homes scene — which is perhaps why the river-hugging districts east of Greenwich are fast becoming hotspots.
Crossrail will soon open up this territory to tens of thousands of buyers seeking an affordable home within quick commuting distance of central London. No other areas beyond travel Zone 1 will be as well connected as Woolwich and Abbey Wood. Both are getting new stations, and few parts of London are currently as cheap, with average prices below £350,000.
Thamesmead, the cheapest, is poised for huge change with an entire new town centre planned by housing charity Peabody.
“The new rail link will morph SE postcodes previously seen as dreary outposts into a serious commuter zone,” says Andrew Palmer, director of property adviser Cushman & Wakefield. “Developers are targeting sites close to the new stations, and raising the bar in terms of design quality.”
Abbey Place is a notable project in the pipeline, a 29-storey tower with 208 apartments, a new public square, shops and a hotel right next to Abbey Wood Crossrail station. To register, call Hub Residential on 020 7534 9065.
To cement improvements resulting from Crossrail and recently announced river crossings for this swathe of the capital, Greenwich council is shifting its regeneration focus towards the borough’s outer corners.
Woolwich has been touted as “up-and-coming” for at least a decade but Crossrail is a 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, but you pay quite a big premium to live there. Flats start at £432,500, or £322,000 for those working in Greenwich borough who qualify for the Discount Market Share scheme. Three-bedroom duplex penthouses cost from £1,295,000 to £1,905,000. Call 020 8331 7130.
The new Crossrail station is being built within this walled estate, which also has shops, eateries, bars and a monthly farmers’ market, while coming soon is a £31 million cultural centre with two theatres and rehearsal studios, artists’ spaces and outside performance areas. Nearby Callis Yard has 120 apartments with river-facing roof gardens. Prices from £350,000. Call 020 7519 5917.
At Trinity Walk, rising on the site of a bulldozed council estate, apartments start at £330,000 and three-bedroom townhouses from £685,000. Call 020 3247 4762.
Away from the town centre and industrial estates, Woolwich has a common, leafy tree-lined avenues and conservation areas. Royal Artillery Barracks is a prominent landmark on the northern edge of the common, while the splendid Royal Military Academy, once a training school for officers, nestles in the slopes of Shooters Hill. Today it is an estate of 328 homes called The Academy.
Thamesmead was built in the Sixties on marshland previously used as rifle ranges. It was a Brave New World of brutalist-style blocks with interconnecting walkways that were “streets in the sky”. New lakes and canals and London’s biggest nature reserve helped drain an area susceptible to flooding.
However, the district fell into disrepute, handicapped by a lack of shops, banks and the absence of integrated public transport that was very much needed in this cut-off location. A fresh vision by Peabody seeks to address past mistakes. The housing association’s £4 billion masterplan will bring 11,500 homes of every tenure, lots of shops, cafés, a new library and schools, plus community gardens and attractive waterside public areas. There will be a new spine road, or high street, with improved pedestrian and cycle routes to the Abbey Wood Crossrail station.
It will not be just a housing estate. There are plans for a medical training facility with affordable accommodation for health care workers, the inspiration being Imperial College London’s new research campus at White City.
In one way, at least, it’s back to the future. In a reinterpretation of traditional 19th-century Peabody estates, clusters of brick blocks will be grouped around raised shared courtyards, creating smaller communities within the larger whole. And where once there were towers, there will now be a sequence of streets and lakeside squares, one with a focal-point water clock tower and an arcade of shops.
Homes will range from one-bedroom flats to four-bedroom houses and 45 per cent of the new properties will be “affordable”, either for rent or shared ownership. Visit peabody.org.uk/thamesmead to register and find out more.
The splendid old maritime town of Greenwich, a Unesco World Heritage Site, is the capital’s most-visited area after central London. But few people venture beyond it.
Local planners want to revitalise the waterfront east of the town centre, all the way to Erith, where the legacy of heavy industry is still visible.
Greenwich Peninsula, an emerging 15,500-home neighbourhood wrapping around The O2 arena, is the first of the new “urban quarters” and just beyond this is Charlton, an under-the-radar Victorian inner suburb with great-value houses, many ripe for renovation or a modern makeover.
By the Thames Barrier, Charlton Riverside has been designated an “Opportunity Area” by London Mayor Sadiq Khan. The site covers 275 acres that are currently devoted to retail parks and transport depots. However, it is now earmarked for up to 7,500 homes, green space, schools, a riverbus pier and improved pedestrian links to Charlton Village.
Developer Rockwell is the first out of the blocks, submitting plans for a 975-home scheme, including a 28-storey tower. Call 020 3705 5110 for more details.
“We like it when developers come forward with their vision and tell us how it fits into the Greenwich borough story,” says Danny Thorpe, the council’s deputy leader.