Stratford to be upgraded to travel Zone 2: plus 10,000 new homes and an 'Olympicopolis' cultural quarter in the pipeline

Stratford's post-Olympic progress is set to reach new heights with a travel upgrade to Zone 2 from January, and high-speed rail link Crossrail opening in 2018. The V&A and London College of fashion are moving in, and there's five new neighbourhoods on the horizon...

Stratford’s post-Olympics progress will scale new heights from January when the east London district gets upgraded from travel Zone 3 to Zone 2.

The aim of the reclassification is to spur economic growth in the area and give momentum to the new cultural quarter, dubbed “Olympicopolis”, where an £850 million mega project will include a new Victoria & Albert Museum, UAL relocating its London College of Fashion and a 600-seat theatre and choreography school for Sadler’s Wells. 

America’s revered Smithsonian Institution of museums and research centres has also set its sights on Stratford for a London outpost.

More than 10,000 jobs will be created in the area, boosting local businesses and house prices. London Mayor Boris Johnson says he wants to “squeeze out every drop of potential” from the 2012 Olympics site.“Moving Stratford into a new transport zone recognises the shifting economic map of London,” he says.

The Olympicopolis vision takes its inspiration from history. Prince Albert, husband and consort of Queen Victoria, used the proceeds of the 1851 Great Exhibition to create a focused 86-acre area of museums and cultural venues in South Kensington, still flourishing today.

Similarly, this new Stratford hub — part-funded by the Treasury and the sell-off of council land — will showcase the arts, history, science, technology and design.

An architectural competition has been won by Allies and Morrison and the goal is to start building within three years. It will complement the growing number of commercial businesses relocating to the 500-acre Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

The former 2012 Games press and broadcast centre is being turned into Here East, a cluster of creative and digital companies, while relocation of Transport for London and the Financial Conduct Authority to Stratford’s International Quarter is bringing 5,500 more jobs.

All three of Stratford’s train stations are being re-zoned. These are: Stratford International — which serves high-speed commuter trains between Kent and St Pancras, and could get Eurostar services if the Mayor has his way; Stratford, and Stratford High Street.

Crossrail, opening in 2018, will boost transport links with two Tube lines and the Docklands Light Railway, plus overground services.


Price TBC: Chobham Manor is one of five new neighbourhoods being built on the site of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park 

Up to 10,000 homes are being built in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, while high-rise apartments continue to sprout up on the fringe. Fifty-acre Fish Island — a former industrial tract separated from the park by canals, and home to 600 artists’ studios — is set to become a new neighbourhood, with hundreds of homes. 

A good way to see the awesome changes taking place is to visit the roof garden at Stratford Plaza, one of the town centre’s new skyscrapers, from where there are sweeping views of the park and sporting arenas, and of Westfield Stratford City, with its 300 shops and 50 bars and restaurants. You can also take in the network of train tracks, along with building sites and still-derelict land.

£560,000: new apartments at Stratford Plaza offer easy access to Carnary Wharf and the City. Image: Kevin Allen

Telford Homes has been building in Stratford since 2005 and has four projects on the go, with flats from £560,000. Call 020 3538 9273. 

Zone 2 status will cement the changes by enticing more businesses to the area and helping them to attract staff, who will pay less to commute. Others will choose to live in the area. Analysis by property company CBRE shows that the average price of a Zone 2 home is £723,000, compared with £488,000 for a Zone 3 property.

Stratford prices are typically £500 to £700 per square foot, up from £450 in 2012, putting the starting price of a one-bedroom flat in a swish new development at about £350,000. The area is at least 30 per cent cheaper than nearby Canary Wharf, also Zone 2. 

From £615,000: Manhattan Loft Gardens is home to 248 apartments with open air sky gardens. Image: Hayes Davidson

Manhattan Loft Gardens seeks to raise the local price level and architectural standard. This shimmering 42-storey skyscraper has 248 flats and open-air sky gardens carved from the building’s form. Harry Handelsman, its developer, calls it a “thing of beauty”. Prices start at £615,000.

While construction takes place, a marketing suite with a show apartment is open at Bankside, which Handelsman put on the map 20 years ago with a scheme of factory lofts. Call 020 7620 3803.

Coming in January is the second phase of 850-home Chobham Manor, one of five neighbourhoods being built in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. This phase will include family houses. Call Taylor Wimpey on 020 3435 9269.

From £500,000: on the bank of the River Lea, Stratford Riverside is a 27-storey tower offering two-bedroom flats

Stratford Riverside, a 27-storey tower on the banks of the River Lea, has two-bedroom flats from £500,000. Call Weston Homes on 01279 873300. 

Glasshouse Gardens has 333 flats in two towers priced from £430,000. Call 020 3002 6787.

Hackney estate agent Currell has opened a Discover East resource centre that is worth visiting, showing the regeneration plans and projects in and around Fish Island. Call 020 3826 4888.

Peabody’s Neptune Wharf will provide 578 homes. L&Q housing association is poised to unveil a scheme of canalside homes in Stour Road, while developer The H Group is making progress on four schemes, with up to 250 homes aimed at young professionals working in Shoreditch and the City who would never choose to live in the new-build villages in the Olympic Park itself.

The area is not for the faint-hearted. Despite being close to the park’s splendid meadows, Fish Island is corralled by a semi-derelict waterfront, while the 15-minute walks to the nearest train stations — Pudding Mill Lane, Bow Road and Hackney Wick — are through a gritty, formidable urban landscape. Westfield’s smart shoppers are an example of the area’s changing demographic.

Before long, there will be a legion of white-collar workers. At least 20,000 more jobs are coming to the area in the next five years or so, which will help to mop up all the new homes being built. And the infrastructure is good enough to cope with the extra demand.

The regeneration agencies involved hope to forge a genuinely mixed community of locals and people new to the area — more affluent types as well as first-time buyers, singles, couples and families living side by side.

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