Many Londoners looking to buy a home this year will have to see the capital through fresh eyes if they want to find an affordable property that will prove to be a long-term solid investment.
We live in a city where rapid population growth is altering the dynamics of the housing market. But London is brimming with regeneration projects, transport upgrades and cultural and employment shifts that are revitalising areas — creating new property hotspots and buying opportunities.
With rising house prices, buyers are having to consider longer commutes and areas they previously would not have looked at.
This four-part series highlights areas on the up, focusing first on the transport changes that are making a big difference.
Where to buy in 2016: key transport upgrades
Where to buy in 2016: key transport upgrades
1/14 Embassy Gardens
If you want to get ahead in property, our advice is to search out areas that are benefiting from infrastructure improvements and large investment. Often, places that are not in the immediate spotlight, but next to regeneration zones, benefit through the ripple effect. Oval and Stockwell, close to the new district being built at Nine Elms in Battersea, are good examples.
2/14 Nine Elms
Design for our times: London is seeing many proposed plans for new river crossings, including this one at Nine Elms in Battersea that would link Wandsworth to Westminster. Transport for London deems it a valuable addition to the area.
3/14 Canary Wharf
Better connected: the new Crossrail route will link many London areas to jobs at Canary Wharf.
4/14 Old Oak Common
Building a community: a transport "superhub" is planned at Old Oak Common, north of Wormwood Scrubs. Regeneration will have a huge impact on surrouding areas, such as Acton, Harlesden and Willesden.
Game changer: Woolwich’s new Crossrail station will vastly improve connections from what is one of London’s cheapest areas to live - for now.
Nowhere along Crossrail’s route will the new train service’s impact be more marked than around its southern spur, from Whitechapel to Abbey Wood in south-east London. A new station is being built at each stop and at peak times, 12 trains an hour will take passengers to Docklands, the City and the West End.
7/14 Southmere Village
Residents at the new Southmere Village in Thamesmead will be served by Abbey Wood Crossrail station. The village features new homes plus a library, shops and community square. Contact Peabody on 0300 123 1237
8/14 Royal Docks
From £695,000: 3,385 homes are being built at Royal Wharf, a new riverside district next door to Canary Wharf and nearly fifty per cent will of this neighbourhood will be open green space. Call 0808 118 1987.
9/14 Upper Lea Valley
On the right track: new plans for Crossrail 2 could make Lea Valley Park more accessible for commuters. The line could unlock 200,000 new homes for the area - connecting homes with job opportunities
Right now, Zone 3 is seeing the biggest demand for property, due to the combination of lower prices and reasonable commute times to the centre. Crossrail will help make Zone 3 areas more accessible, while regeneration is already injecting fizz into previously dull districts. Beckton features many newly created parks as well as the London Regatta Centre in Dockside Road.
11/14 Royal Docks
Already home to London’s only designated Enterprise Zone and with excellent transport links, the regeneration of E16 will create a centre for global trade, with thousands of jobs and new homes (scroll right...)
12/14 Royal Docks
Flats at Hoola in E16 will benefit from a crossing between Royal Docks and Charlton Riverside and value will immediately be further increased by its proximity to Crossrail. Call 0207 272 1121
13/14 Bond Street
Bond Street Crossrail station will be the heart of a wider commercial zone. From 2018, 220,000 passengers are expected to use Bond Street London Underground and Crossrail station every day.
14/14 Barking Riverside
Transport for London has unveiled proposals for 13 new river crossings, from Fulham in the west to Dartford in the east. A new tunnel will be part of an Overground extension to Barking Riverside.
Follow the planners
If you want to get ahead in property, our advice is to search out areas that are benefiting from infrastructure improvements and large investment. Often, places that are not in the immediate spotlight, but next to regeneration zones, benefit through the ripple effect. Oval and Stockwell, close to the new district being built at Nine Elms in Battersea, are good examples. The area around North End Road in Fulham, bordering the huge Earls Court redevelopment, is another.
Mayor Boris Johnson has warned that Londoners face a “diminished quality of life” unless preparations for a more crowded city start now. To this end, he has launched initiatives that will unlock land for many more new homes, connected by better transport.
Some projects are longer term, but they quickly become part of a property story, and should be embedded in buyers’ decision making. If you buy smartly, when you eventually sell, you will reap the financial rewards.
Crossrail is a good example of long-term potential. Prices along the west-east Reading to Shenfield route continue to get a boost ahead of the line opening in 2018. In Ealing, property values jumped 25.5 per cent during the 12 months to last July, more than twice the London average, according to Land Registry data. Southall, where a new Crossrail station is being built, is tipped to outperform this year.
Also on the horizon is Crossrail 2, which will run north to south, from Broxbourne in the Hertfordshire commuter belt to Epsom in Surrey.
The Mayor’s office is placing greater emphasis on Crossrail 2, arguing the line could unlock 200,000 new homes, particularly in the Upper Lea Valley in east London. The aim is to connect homes with job opportunities, a throwback to the great railway era a century ago, when housing development flourished along commuter lines between London and the home counties.
Crossrail will also integrate with HS2, the high-speed line between London and Birmingham, the first phase of which is set to be operating by 2026.
Old Oak Common: a new transport "superhub"
A transport “superhub” is planned at Old Oak Common in west London, where there is a proposal for a giant district. The land, mainly railway depots and freight yards, lies just north of Wormwood Scrubs, and regeneration is likely to have a huge impact on surrounding areas, such as Acton, Harlesden and Willesden.
The Northern Line Extension
One live project well into its stride is the Northern line extension from Kennington to Battersea, opening in 2020, while there are advanced plans for an extension of the Bakerloo line from Elephant & Castle through south-east London to Beckenham in Kent.
Interactive graphic: 13 new Thames crossings
Transport for London has unveiled proposals for 13 new river crossings, from Fulham in the west to Dartford in the east. The majority of these will be built in east London, where current cross-river connections are poor and population growth is highest. The tunnels and bridges are part of a master plan for a new “City in the East”, stretching from London Bridge to Ebbsfleet, being pushed by the Mayor.
They include a pedestrian and cycle link between Canary Wharf and Rotherhithe, a crossing between Royal Docks and Charlton Riverside, and a new road bridge between Beckton and Thamesmead. A new tunnel will be part of an Overground extension to Barking Riverside. Berkeley Homes has been selected for a new big housing development — a disused parcel depot at Stephenson Street, Newham, that will bring 3,500 homes and a further boost for the Canning Town area.
GET IN THE ZONE
The ones to watch: Zones 3 and 6
Developers’ main focus is switching from Zones 1 and 2 to Zones 3 to 6, where they can build homes at prices more people can afford. By opting for an area a little further along a Tube line, you can get much more for your money and buy into a district where prices have yet to reach their full potential. For example, compare Balham on the Northern line, with an average property price of £659,777, with up-and-coming Colliers Wood three stops on, with an average price of £393,139.
In north London, Temple Fortune is a much cheaper alternative to Hampstead or Highgate. Still a family area, it is being discovered by young singles and couples, according to Glentree estate agents.
Zone 3: the top choice
Right now, Zone 3 is seeing the biggest demand for property, due to the combination of lower prices and reasonable commute times to the centre.
Crossrail will help make Zone 3 areas more accessible, while regeneration is already injecting fizz into previously dull districts, with high street facelifts (Walthamstow), town centre makeovers (Lewisham), newly created parks (Beckton), an opened-up waterfront (Greenwich) and a mega shopping and business centre (Stratford).
A £4 billion redevelopment of railway land at Brent Cross and Cricklewood is bringing 7,500 homes, three new schools, four parks, and a new Thameslink station giving locals a 12-minute commute to central London.
Buy for £300,000 in Zone 4
Zone 4 sits between the inner city and the suburbs, a ring marked by Greenford in the west, Mill Hill in the north, Upney in the east and Morden in the south. Ten of the cheapest areas around Zone 4 stations have average prices less than £301,000, Wembley is a Zone 4 area with Zone 2 transport connections, with Baker Street 13 minutes away, according to Paul Hogarth of Quintain, the developer building a 5,000-home neighbourhood wrapping around the famous football stadium. Alto Apartments, the latest phase, has flats starting from £375,000. Call 020 3151 8601.
Zone 5: only 32 minutes from central London
In Zone 5, Becontree in east London tops the list of best-value locations, having an average price of £242,000 and an average commute time of 32 minutes to central London.
Zone 6 property prices are nearly as high as those in Zone 3. This apparent anomaly is due to the fact that the zone falls on the boundary between London and the “country” and has numerous coveted locations, with a more rural feel and beautiful scenery.