Transport for London (TfL) has released details of its £76.3 billion business plan for the next nine years. When buying a new home, the proximity of property to transport links is the single most important thing to look for, and not just for establishing the maximum future resale value but, equally importantly, for creating the easiest commute to work. Understanding this, TfL says it wants to capture Londoners' attention as it works out how lives could be transformed by its planned improvements.
This might not seem like the right time to do this, with all the barometers indicating a tough economic recession. But the end of 2009 is likely to mark the bottom of the property slump. Buyers who plan their future moves on reports from bodies such as TfL will profit most when the recovery takes hold and values start to edge up again.
The bounce back will come more quickly to some areas than others and those who will always benefit first are those with major transport-led regeneration because it is a catalyst for other neighbourhood improvements such as office development, shops, restaurants and bars.
TfL's programme includes soon-to-be-delivered extensions to the Tube and DLR, as well as more far-off improvements such as Crossrail, the new east-west link. New stations are being built and many others refurbished. Plans for a cross-river tram between Euston and Brixton have been abandoned.
It is well worth studying these transport upgrades. Buy-to-let investors are already targeting areas where there will be a big impact over the medium to long term. Some locations that are poised to benefit are seen as undervalued.
Previous Tube improvements such as the Victoria line and Jubilee line extension boosted underlying property values along the new routes by more than 10 per cent.
A window of opportunity
There is a strong case for house-hunting along the existing East London line during its temporary closure while the extension to Dalston and Croydon is built. Closure combined with the property crash has had a negative effect and there is a window of opportunity to search out a bargain. The line will re-open in June 2010.
Research by website FindaProperty.com based on data from 3,500 estate agents shows that average property values along the East London line are lower than along any other Tube line.
The southern stretch of the East London line extension will connect Brockley, Honor Oak, Sydenham and Forest Hill to the Tube network. A spur will shoot off to Crystal Palace, while the main route will take in Norwood Junction before ending at West Croydon. Hackney borough will get the Tube for the first time. Apartment schemes are under way in these areas, meaning that there are off-plan buying opportunities available now.
Most of the extension through Hackney will run on viaducts constructed in Victorian times. Four new stations are being built at Shoreditch, Hoxton, Haggerston and Dalston Junction. Eventually the line will be extended to Highbury & Islington and link in with a new overground orbital train network around the capital, stretching from West Croydon to Stratford.
Dalston will be the key interchange for this integrated service. Dalston Square is a £160 million project that will effectively create a new town centre - 550 homes, shops, a library and public space, all integrated with the new train station. Prices start at £249,950. Shared ownership deals are also available. Call Barratt on 020 7241 1833.
The capital and Crossrail
Crossrail is the capital's most important transport improvement for 50 years. It will provide six new central London stations and for the first time offer smooth, change-free journeys from areas outside London to the key centres of the West End, City and Docklands.
The line will run from Maidenhead and Heathrow in the west to Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the east. Transport secretary Geoff Hoon has vowed that the £16 million link will open in 2017.
Canary Wharf is to get a new station that will slash the journey time to Heathrow to 40 minutes, a boon for jet-setting bankers and lawyers who live and work locally.
Another new station at Tottenham Court Road will help transform the scruffy pocket around Centre Point, which is already getting a face-lift with a new mixed-use scheme called Central St Giles. When complete in 2010, the latter will be a new address right on the border between Covent Garden and Soho. Developers Londonewcastle and Modern City Living are building 56 apartments overlooking a piazza and alongside 376,000sq ft of offices. Homes will be released for sale early next year. Call estate agent EA Shaw on 020 7240 2255.
'Buyers who plan their moves on transport reports for the future will profit most when the recovery takes hold'
Farringdon station, in Clerkenwell, is poised for huge growth, with a predicted sevenfold increase in commuters. The station already has 30-minute connections to Gatwick and Luton airports and is pivotal to Network Rail's upgrading of Thameslink services north and south of the river. Estate agent Hurford Salvi Carr is selling several boutique schemes in the Farringdon area. Call 020 7250 1012.
Abbey Wood, currently a dreary, isolated south London outpost and one of the capital's cheapest areas, will get a much needed lift.
Crossrail will cut the journey time to Canary Wharf to just nine minutes. A new DLR link between Woolwich and Docklands will open in early 2009.
In addition, a new masterplan has been agreed for Royal Arsenal, the former munitions factory being turned into a riverside estate.
This will incorporate the new Crossrail station and increase the number of homes to 3,700. A "green boulevard" to the town centre will connect with a 1.5 million sq ft mixed-use development including 960 new homes.
The Armouries is a new-build phase of 436 homes at the Royal Arsenal complex. Prices start at £250,000. Call 020 8331 7130.
Property ripples will be felt outside central London where several Crossrail stations will be upgraded. West Drayton is a relatively cheap suburban location. St George Homes has released new flats at Parkwest, priced from £194,950. Call 01895 449009.