Fast new commuter routes are changing London's property map
Londoners are finding quick new commuter routes in good-value areas boosted by the city's tallest tower, reveals David Spittles
* Buyers are studying new transport routes and Tube lines to find up-and-coming areas
* Deptford is attracting a fresh generation of commuters with a new station being built
* Developers are finding space for homes along Regent's Canal which links King's Cross with Docklands in the east and Paddington in the west
Tube line extensions and the creation of an orbital train network around the capital are changing London’s demographics, allowing people to travel much shorter distances to and from work. Whereas in the past, a direct commute from the suburbs to the West End or City was typical, today’s homebuyers and renters are more likely to live and work within London.
Regeneration continues to change the property map and thrust up-and-coming areas into the spotlight, according to Jim Ward of Savills, whose research reveals “pockets of hidden value” waiting to be discovered. “New transport is the game changer — people are studying the new routes and Tube lines and picking places to live that were previously off their radar. To some extent, transport improvements have crept up on us, but people are now waking up to the benefits.”
What do you think about the new commuter hotspots in London?
Turbo-charging growth: London Bridge, King's Cross, Victoria and Paddington
Not only are several of London’s main stations — London Bridge, King’s Cross, Victoria, Paddington — getting a major revamp bringing more shops and offices that are re-energising them as commercial centres, new business “hubs” are emerging elsewhere.
Edward Lister, the Mayor’s strategic planning adviser, says he wants to “turbo-charge” growth in these areas as their population surges. “Developments must be well-designed and meet the most up-to-date environmental standards. Integrated public transport makes it easier for people to get to and from work, and reduces car congestion and pollution at the same time,” he said.
London-wide estate agent Kinleigh Folkard & Hayward reports rising rents for commercial premises in travel Zones 2 and 3 as businesses relocate from the expensive core central area.
“In one sense, secondary commercial areas don’t exist any more,” says the firm’s Ben Kaye. “When businesses relocate, the money follows. Developers build cool apartments, galleries and restaurants open and the vibe on the street attracts more homebuyers.”
According to Savills, buyers can obtain far cheaper properties if they are prepared to travel two or three stops more on the Tube. For example, the average property price in N5 (around Highbury & Islington station on the Victoria line) is £583,487 whereas homes close to Seven Sisters station (only seven minutes further on) are £234,669 on average, a 60 per cent price decrease. Between Notting Hill Gate and Shepherd’s Bush (four minutes more on the Central line), there is a price decrease of 75 per cent.
The rise of London Bridge, symbolised by the Shard of Glass, as a big employment centre rather than a City spillover location, is causing property ripples in south-east postcodes such as SE8, SE10 and SE14 as buyers search for affordable, quick-commute addresses.
The Shard's shadow spreads to Deptford
The Shard’s impact extends far beyond its relatively small footprint on the forecourt of London Bridge station. As many as 12,000 people will work in the building and already homebuyers are setting their sights on places such as Deptford, which has six-minute train links to London Bridge.
Deptford station is London’s oldest, built in 1836 before the line was laid to London Bridge. City workers of the early Victorian period became the world’s first train commuters, with bankers and brokers living in Georgian houses, and clerks and cleaners setting off from more modest Victorian homes, many of which survive.
Today the area is attracting a fresh generation of commuters. A new Deptford station is being built, part of a larger commercial scheme that will bring 121 apartments and workspaces for creatives, while a new market square will help regenerate the lively high street. For more information, visit cathedralgroup.com.
Buyers are targeting other areas in the cheaper south-east London hinterland. Soho media workers Dan and Meryck Green were renting in Camden but chose to live in Hither Green, believing the “Shard effect” will make property there a good investment. “Properties are a snip compared to other parts of London and it genuinely feels an area on the up,” said Dan. “We think the Shard will give the place a boost by opening up a new commuter corridor.”
Denmark Hill on the Dulwich-Camberwell border is being “discovered”, having stayed something of a secret because for so long it was starved of the Tube. But last December, the local station became part of the East London line network, opening up direct journeys to Shoreditch and Liverpool Street.
A former convent, now renamed as St John’s Orchard, has been rescued from dereliction and transformed into a terrace of large (4,000sq ft) family houses, each with four bedrooms, a music room and library plus a sunken basement terrace.
The convent’s old orchard has been reinstated to provide 50 metre-long, south-facing gardens. Prices from £1.92 million. Call estate agent Harvey and Wheeler on 020 8693 4321.
Regent's Canal: hundreds of new homes
The drift east of media and design companies has helped to revitalise Clerkenwell and Shoreditch, while Google’s mega move to an office complex of a million square feet at King’s Cross reinforces London’s position as tech capital of Europe.
One communication highway opening up is the Regent’s Canal, which links King’s Cross with Docklands in the east and Paddington in the west. Run-down sections of waterfront are being brought back to life, with developers finding space for homes, loft offices and restaurants within small business and live-work enclaves, as at Kingsland Basin and City Road Basin. Coming soon at the latter is The Lexicon, 307 new homes, many in a 36-storey tower. To register, call developer Mount Anvil on 020 7776 1800.
Fast commutes: Victoria to Bromley
Savills says new “axis points” are forming as the main station areas expand and commuters working there look for a shorter direct route in. King’s Cross-Hendon is one such example. Victoria-Bromley is another.
Victoria is getting its biggest physical makeover since the Sixties, with a £2 billion project replacing outdated office blocks and introducing new residential and retail space. Creative-sector companies are moving in alongside government departments, giving the area an image and employment boost.
Bromley, which has 17-minute train links to Victoria, is attracting “spin-off” developments on the back of Victoria regeneration. A major town centre scheme called Bromley South Central is under way moments from the train station. Set around a new public square, it will have 200 apartments, a nine-screen multiplex cinema, a 130-bed hotel plus cafés and restaurants offering alfresco dining. To register, call Cathedral Group on 020 7939 0800.
Image gallery: the top 20 second home hotspots for Londoners