The ripple effect, that well-known phenomenon where buyers move from the centre of London to the suburbs and take rising prices with them, is moving out to the commuter belt.
A new study on top-performing locations in Berkshire reveals buyers are gravitating towards Crossrail, the Elizabeth line, which will slash journey times to central London.
Families are invading the suburbs, pushing up property prices just outside the main Elizabeth line towns rather than within them. The Savills study shows Berkshire’s new hotspots are all within easy striking distance of stops on the line, which will be fully up and running in 2019.
1. BURNHAM — A SLOUGH SATELLITE
The star performer is Burnham, which will have its own Crossrail station. This small, semi-rural village, not yet entirely consumed by urban sprawl from neighbouring Slough, has seen prices rocket 49 per cent since 2012 to an average £334,831. Trains to Paddington currently take 41 minutes.
Burnham’s a good place to hunt down period homes. A four-bedroom Twenties detached home is £750,000 to £800,000, with a four-bedroom Victorian semi for about £500,000, and a two-bedroom flat’s about £300,000.
The village’s Dropmore Infant School is rated “outstanding” by Ofsted and there’s a small, basic high street and a couple of pubs. But locals head to nearby Maidenhead or pretty Marlow High Street for an evening meal.
2. FURZE PLATT, NEAR MAIDENHEAD
With a countryside feel and on the rise, Furze Platt is just north of Maidenhead. Average property prices have grown 45 per cent to £427,182, and the commute to Paddington takes 47 minutes.
Local estate agent Michael O’Flaherty puts Furze Platt’s appeal down to its having its own station, but commuters can make the hop to Maidenhead in minutes for London trains and, in a couple of years, Crossrail.
The property stock is mostly houses, and the local infant, junior, and senior schools, all rated “good” by Ofsted, are parent magnets. “You are also close to the Buckinghamshire border so if your child does well enough in the 11-plus, you can send them to Sir William Borlase’s Grammar School in Marlow, which is a big draw to north Maidenhead,” says O’Flaherty.
In Furze Platt you could buy a big, five-bedroom Victorian or Edwardian semi for about £750,000, a three-bedroom semi for about £500,000 or a purpose-built two-bedroom flat for about £300,000.
The area’s downfall is its lack of facilities. It is near Maidenhead town centre, but it’s a sprawling area with no real high street. Maidenhead is essentially a commuter town with excellent road and rail links, but not a vast amount to do in the town itself. However, there are lovely pubs and restaurants in surrounding villages — including The Fat Duck at foodie Bray — while summer walks by the river are lovely, and you could row on Dorney Lake.
3. TILEHURST AND 4. THEALE — READING’S NEAR NEIGHBOURS
Tilehurst and Theale, near the Elizabeth line western terminus at Reading, have both enjoyed 48 per cent price growth in the last five years. The average price of a home in Tilehurst is now £336,865, while the figure for Theale is £310,041. Tilehurst trains reach Paddington in 41 minutes, and you can add a minute from Theale.
Great for country lovers, Tilehurst and Theale are both west of Reading, at the tip of the North Wessex Downs. These good-looking, characterful spots a couple of miles apart have decent high streets and several pubs apiece. As well as good train links from Reading, they are handy for the M4 and Heathrow airport.
Theale CE Primary School gets top marks from Ofsted, but Theale Green School, for seniors, “requires improvement”. Tilehurst primaries include Westwood Farm Infant School and Birch Croft Primary, both “outstanding”, while Little Heath School and Denefield School, for seniors, get “good” Ofsted reports.
5. READING WEST
Making up the top five is Reading West, Berkshire’s most pocket-friendly commuter option with average prices of £280,175, up 37.5 per cent in five years.
Reading West is already a great commuter location, with 37-minute Paddington trains.