London’s new Crossrail service – or the Elizabeth Line to use its official name – is set to open next summer, making it quicker and easier than ever before to get one from side of the capital to the other (and most places in-between too). Just as importantly, the Elizabeth Line will also crunch commuting times, turning otherwise overlooked London and Greater London neighbourhoods into red-hot property destinations.
If you’re tempted to buy, here’s our pick of where to look:
Tipped by CBRE, the property investment giants, as one of the capital’s prime growth spots for 2020, Woolwich is experiencing a huge swell of interest from first-time buyers. And it isn’t just Crossrail that’s contributing to the buzz: a Battersea-style multibillion-pound regeneration of the Woolwich Arsenal, the old munitions complex, will mean 5000 new homes, as well as plush bars and restaurants, along the waterfront, while a large part of the factory itself will be repurposed as a world-class arts venue. As with many London boroughs, prices range dramatically from one corner to the next – with developer-quality two-bedroom flats going for anywhere from £400,000 to £1.4m. Parents will be pleased to know that two local primary schools – St Peter’s Catholic Primary School and Cardwell Primary School – are both rated Outstanding.
Hayes & Harlington
For much of the post-War era, Hayes has muddled along as one of London’s lower-profile suburbs – a former industrial giant let down by its second rate transport connections. Now the Elizabeth Line, which offers speedier and direct links to the City, the West End and Canary Wharf, will change all that. Well, when it’s up and running anyway. Industry data shows that Hayes has been one of the areas most affected by Crossrail’s much-publicised delays, with house prices here dropping by more than other affected areas. Surely, then, now is the time to buy? After all, many analysts expect that house prices will be due a second turbocharge before long: when the government delivers on its promise to complete Heathrow’s third runway.
While it might be slap bang in the middle of the capital, Whitechapel hasn’t always had it easy. For years, it’s been one of the most deprived parts of central London. Now things finally look to be on the up. School standards have risen and the impact of Queen Mary University and the revamped Royal London Hospital continues to raise living standards and bring in the cash. With Whitechapel now set to become a major London transport hub, the property market is understandably excited. Walk from the station to Aldgate and you’ll spot more swanky developments that you can count on both hands. The revamped Whitechapel Estate is set to host some 335 new flats, meanwhile the Silk District development – a joint venture between Mount Anvil and the housing association L&Q – will bring a further 647 flats (from studios to three-bedrooms) onto the market.
A picturesque English village on the left bank of the River Thames, Taplow offers all the classic perks of rural Buckinghamshire: from boating to cricket, to quiet countryside walks. While there are plenty of new developments underfoot, the typical Taplow dwelling is exactly what you’d expect: from quaint little retirement cottages to Georgian homes with riverside gardens, this is a place that couldn’t feel further from London if it tried. And yet it now finds itself on the verge of enjoying first-rate connections to the capital (with twelve services set to depart every hour). The words having your cake and eating it come to mind. Speaking of eating, Taplow also happens to be within easy reach of the foodie Mecca of Bray, where Heston Blumenthal and Alain Roux have some of their best known – and most popular – establishments.
As the home of Ricky Gervais’s The Office, Slough – equidistant between London and Reading – hasn’t exactly been considered a sought-after spot for commuters. Can Crossrail change that? Like much of the west side of the Elizabeth Line, Slough has been let down by the fact its only real link to London has been via Paddington – an over-crowded station which doesn’t offer the easiest or most direct routes into much of the real centre. Now commuters will be able to travel directly to Liverpool St, in the heart of the financial City, in under 40 minutes, and Canary Wharf in just over 45. A vast improvement. Meanwhile, the journey to Heathrow Airport will now take just six minutes. If that doesn’t change Slough’s fortunes, nothing will.
Perhaps rather strangely given its proximity to Stratford, Maryland – a small residential neighbourhood that stretches east from the Olympic Park and onwards towards Leytonstone – has a tendency to vanish off the map in the minds of many Londoners. The lack of its own proper underground station has meant that many are still utterly unaware of the place – usually associating Maryland with East Coast US instead of east London (in fact, the area was named by a rich merchant who’d made money in the new American colony of Maryland before returning to London). Perhaps its relative obscurity could be why property prices still remain below the London average? Is this the place to bag a bargain?