The capital's fringes are made up of regeneration zones, established suburbs, and embryonic London villages.
Fantastic (Zone) Four offers a more than doable commute and excellent value compared to more central locations...
Wembley: a well-connected spot
As well as thousands of new homes the Wembley Park regeneration has delivered shops, a designer shopping centre, a cinema, and, of course, that football stadium.
Wembley is actually a hugely diverse area, just north of the North Circular Road, with streets of 1930s houses as well as the new flats around the stadium.
It is served by three stations, Wembley Park, which has Jubilee Line and Metropolitan Line services to the West End and City; Wembley Stadium, which offers overground trains to Marylebone, and North Wembley, which offers Bakerloo Line and London Overground services.
A budget of £450,000 to £500,000 would buy a three to four bedroom 1930s house, or set you up in a spanking new two bedroom flat close to Wembley Park. For £350,000 you could still buy a two bedroom flat, in one of the areas older (and less glitzy) developments. Even with a slim, £250,000 budget first time buyers could pick up a one bedroom purpose built flat.
Cristina Siladi, sales manager at Ellis & Co, said that there has been a long term divide between Wembley Park, and Wembley Central. Wembley Park is “new Wembley”, the focus of most of the investment. Its flats are therefore the most expensive, and some of the local houses sell for north of £1m. Wembley Central is better value – for a reason.
“If you look at Wembley High Road it is really only chicken shops and betting shops,” said Siladi. However she believes that as space runs out around Wembley Park developers are starting to eye Wembley Central, slightly to the south west. “It is improving and in a few years’ time I think it is going to be a lot better,” said Siladi.
Woodside Park: a range of homes for all budgets
Only native north Londoners are likely to be familiar with the delights of Tally Ho Corner, a road junction thought to have earned its nickname because the area was once a staging post for carriages leaving London for the midlands; a tally ho is a kind of horse drawn-coach.
While the area still bears some scars of the recession in the form of a few too many discount stores and charity shops, it is filling up with a decent range of everyday and independent shops, and more than passes the coffee shop test (and the restaurant test). There are also some nice pubs, notably The Elephant, although for nightlife locals need to head further in to London.
Tally-Ho Corner is the de-facto high street for Woodside Park, a leafy and family friendly area with Northern Line services to central London.
Parents love the area because of its great schools – Moss Hall Infant School, Our Lady of Lourdes RC Primary School, Northside Primary School, and The Compton School are all rated “outstanding” by Ofsted. St Michael’s Catholic Grammar School is one of the top performing schools in Britain, and parents literally move to the area in the hope of winning a place.
Woodside Park is an affluent sort of area – there is a riding stables and two golf clubs, not something you can say for many London neighbourhoods – but its mainly Victorian property remains within reach of first time buyers.
For around £500,000 you could opt for a two bedroom cottage, or a two bedroom flat in a converted house or one of the admittedly slightly dreary-looking low rise purpose built blocks scattered around the area.
Buyers with a budget closer to £350,000 could easily buy a one bedroom flat, and could alternatively go for a two bedroom apartment above one of the local shops.
Barking: a hot tip, with huge projects in the pipeline
Hotly tipped as the new It-spot for first time buyers, who nowadays have to traipse almost to the fringes of Essex to find an affordable home.
Barking’s plus points include good rail links – services to Fenchurch Street take from just 14 minutes - plus Hammersmith & City and District Line services.
It also has the massive Barking Riverside regeneration project, with plans for almost 11,000 new homes over the next 15 years.
Early residents of Barking Riverside have complained of being isolated and without much to do, but the regeneration will eventually include a riverside promenade with bars, restaurants, public squares, a marina, plus a riverboat service to central London.
For those hoping for a house there are also streets of 1930s semis in the area, many of which are ripe for a bit of TLC.
Crucially, what Barking has got going for it beyond big bang regeneration is the first evidence of more grass roots change in the form of new galleries and cafes starting to emerge, providing a much-needed boost to the still admittedly dingy high street. While the shopping offer is still a bit Poundland the ethnic restaurants, from Afghani to Albanian, along Longbridge Road are excellent.
The other reason first time buyers are honing in on Barking is that you get plenty of bang for your buck. A three or four bedroom semi- detached house costs around £400,000 to £450,000.
Two bedroom flats at 360 Barking, one of the area’s new developments, start at £372,000. For the same sort of price you could pick up a three bedroom terraced house. A two bedroom terrace would cost around £300,000.
A buyer with £250,000 to spend could buy a two bedroom flat in one of the area’s older developments, while one bedroom flats come in at less than £200,000.
Add to that a well-reviewed local theatre, a good leisure centre and park, a real old fashioned east London street market, and easy access to Wanstead Flats, and its easy to see why young buyers are starting to discover Barking.