Many Londoners looking to move home in 2017 will need to scan the capital with fresh eyes if they are to achieve their goal of finding a nice place to live, in a good — or at least “improving” — area with strong potential for capital growth. Rather than a single overarching property market, our fast-changing city has many micro markets, each of which has its own dynamics.
Urban renewal is constant in London: nowhere is “undiscovered”, but areas are continually being rediscovered. Often this is due to co-ordinated regeneration schemes, such as at Earls Court, but sometimes it is down to an unplanned confluence of people and “undervalued” homes that makes a place newly special.
The spur might be business-led — such as the tech sector sprouting in Shoreditch — or a cultural stimulus such as the opening of Tate Modern at Bankside. New “tribes” settle, hastening gentrification and pushing up prices.
While rising prices have put central and parts of inner London out of reach of many buyers, forcing them to consider longer commutes and areas that aren’t their first choice, London is bulging with building projects, transport upgrades and cultural and employment shifts that are creating new hotspots and buying opportunities, whatever your budget.
If you want to prosper in property, it pays to search out areas benefiting from large investment of one type or another. Often places that are not in the immediate spotlight but next to regeneration zones benefit, too, through the ripple effect. Walworth, bordering Elephant & Castle, is a good example.
Though some projects are longer term, they quickly become part of a property story, embedded in buyers’ decision-making. If you buy smartly today, you will reap financial rewards when you eventually sell. And with the prospect of Brexit ushering in a period of market caution, there may be genuine bargains available right now.
TRANSPORT UPGRADES TO WATCH
Better transport links — rail, river and air — provide the biggest and most obvious boost to an area’s reputation. Where railway lines go, home buyers turn up. It happened with the recent Overground upgrades and it is happening with Crossrail and Tube extensions. One live project is the Northern line extension from Kennington to Battersea, opening in 2020.
With dramatic change taking place around it, Kennington itself has been stuck in time. Less than a mile from Parliament, the district’s Victorian terraces and Georgian squares act as a block on big development projects. It has been gentrifying for decades, but hasn’t reached the heights of fashionability. However, the Northern line spur may accelerate its popularity.
Alongside refurbished Kennington Park is a rare new-build scheme, St Agnes Place, with Georgian-style houses priced from £1,375,000. Call 0333 0033 660.
Kennington also butts up against the Thames, right where ancient Lambeth Palace stands, and where an ugly office block has been bulldozed to make way for Palace View — 55 apartments with full-height glazing to maximise the vista. Prices from £880,000. Call Taylor Wimpey on 020 3866 0901.
Another important new link is an Overground extension from Abbey Wood to Barking Riverside, scheduled to open in 2021. Abbey Wood is already the location for a new Crossrail station yet currently is one of the cheapest places to live in London. Developer HUB has submitted plans for the area’s first significant new homes scheme, a 29-storey skyscraper with 208 flats.
At Barking, an ambitious waterfront project is under way, with up to 11,000 homes. Caspian Quarter is the latest phase. Prices from £234,995. Call Bellway on 01245 989989.
Barking town centre, in Zone 4 on the District line, is getting a facelift, too. Right next to the station is 360 Barking, a collection of curvy residential towers with sky gardens. Flats are priced from £280,000. Call 020 3369 0157.
ROYAL DOCKS AND BEYOND
London City airport in Royal Docks is a big plus for the area. Already the airport serves more than 40 UK and European destinations, and New York, making it convenient for Canary Wharf execs, while government-approved expansion is unlocking more opportunities for longer-haul destinations and creating more than 2,000 jobs for locals. What had been a fairly desolate area is now morphing into a noted London district and business zone. Certainly, this is a great area to search if you’re looking for big skies, dramatic riverscapes and good-value property.
Royal Albert Wharf, with 1,500 homes, lies alongside the airport’s spectacular island runway and a boat yard. Apartment blocks overlook a dock and a handsome Edwardian pump house, while a new bridge across the water will link with shops, cafés and offices. Flats from £350,000. Call 020 8357 4579.
COMMUTE BY BOAT IN 2017
With a record number of Londoners getting to work by boat, Mayor Sadiq Khan plans to expand riverbus services beyond Woolwich.
Almost a million people a year commute along the Thames, and 11 new piers are planned to cope with the growing demand. This will open up the service to thousands more commuters from as far afield as Barking and Dartford.
One of the new piers will be built at Enderby Wharf, Greenwich, where a 770-home riverside development is under way. Prices from £430,000. Call 0844 811 4334.
Another pier is earmarked for Royal Wharf, a new 3,385-home neighbourhood at Silvertown. James Wright and his wife, Kathryn, have moved there from Kent, where they had lived for 15 years. James, who works at Canary Wharf, cites the area’s “fast-improving transport links and investment prospects” as the main reasons for relocating. The couple bought a four-bedroom townhouse. One of their sons is soon to start work at Canary Wharf, while another who is studying at The Hague, Netherlands, regularly uses London City airport. Flats start at £335,000, with houses from £1,050,000. Call 0800 1601200.
HOT AREAS TIPPED FOR GROWTH
FISH ISLAND, HACKNEY WICK
This little-known backwater, once part of a thriving industrial suburb where in 1865 the Gas Light and Coke Company established a small factory town, now a conservation area, has been thrown into the spotlight by the transformation of Stratford.
For the last 20 years, the decaying 50-acre site bordering Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park has offered cheap studio space to hundreds of artists, but the underused land and buildings are now part of a masterplan to create a new neighbourhood with more than 5,000 homes, live-work dwellings, workshops and small business premises. Once a furniture and shoe-making factory, Carpenters Wharf is the first of the new canalside apartment schemes. Architects Studio Egret West have picked up on the area’s industrial heritage by designing an exposed-frame and timber-clad warehouse-style building with a central atrium and a residents’ roof garden. The ground floor houses an exhibition space and café. Flats from £415,000. Call 020 7519 5917.
Shamed a few years back by claims that its high road was Britain’s scruffiest, the council and businesses have combined to collect rubbish, wash pavements and increase policing in Streatham. “It’s become the new darling place to move to in south-west London,” according to estate agent John D Wood.
London Square Streatham Hill, a development of 214 flats under way, is a step up for the area and comes with a concierge, gym and underground parking plus an on-site theatre and a Marks & Spencer food store. Prices from £425,000. Call 0333 666 2131.
Home buyers priced out of the centre are injecting fizz into outer travel zones, too. London’s population is rising fastest in these areas, with waves of buyers looking for properties in the £250,000 to £800,000 bracket, which accounts for the bulk of demand in the capital. Check out Meridian Water, Enfield, which will have up to 10,000 new homes and a new train station offering 25-minute commutes to Liverpool Street. The first phase of 725 homes and the station will be ready by 2018. Call Barratt on 0844 8114334.
Boosted by a new Crossrail station, Southall, in Zone 4, is attracting buyers from other parts of London who want an affordable home with quick connections to the West End — Bond Street will be 17 minutes away. A former gas works is being transformed into Southall Waterside — a 3,750-home estate alongside Grand Union Canal.
Its linear central park lined by apartment blocks will be longer than Regent Street, and as well as the Crossrail station there will be a primary school, shops, a cinema and a small business village. To register, visit www.southallwaterside.com.