Where to buy a property in London in 2016: the key transport upgrades homebuyers need to know about

Key regeneration projects and transport improvements are creating new property hotspots and buying opportunities in areas that were once avoided. If you want a good investment as well as a home, it pays to know about the game-changing transport upgrades planned throughout the capital - from the Northern Line extension and Crossrail, to 13 new Thames crossings that will help create a "City in the East".

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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. 


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.

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.

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.

Building a community: areas near Old Oak Common, north of Wormwood Scrubs, will benefit from regeneration

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 graphic13 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.


Getting in the loop: Barking Riverside will benefit from an Overground extension


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.


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