Big change for Walthamstow: the London borough of culture 2019’s leading neighbourhood set for £200m transformation


Sometimes regeneration happens with a big bang, when developers home in on the likes of King’s Cross or Nine Elms and design a whole new neighbourhood from start to finish. But the regeneration of Walthamstow was kick-started by Londoners themselves.

The enthusiastic adoption of E17 by buyers priced out of more fashionable swathes of Hackney has inspired housebuilders to invest in sites between the area’s rows of Victorian and Edwardian terraces, bringing thousands of new homes to the area.

Meanwhile, estates are being remodelled, cool coffee shops and quality restaurants are thriving and the council has invested wisely in improvements to the area’s green space and cultural facilities.

Launching this month, Waltham Forest begins its stint as London Borough of Culture 2019. The biggest change to come is a revamp of The Mall Walthamstow, the dated shopping centre. Owner Capital & Regional plans to modernise and upgrade the centre, with more shops and 450 new homes.

Upgrade: in Zone 3, Walthamstow Central station, for Tube, Overground and bus services, is getting a second entrance (Alamy Stock Photo)

Possibly starting next year, the £200 million five-year project will coincide with Transport for London building a second entrance to adjacent Walthamstow Central station.

The rebirth of The Mall has come in for stiff criticism. Only 20 per cent of the homes will be earmarked for first-time buyers and straitened renters, though the firm will make a payment to Waltham Forest council for lower-cost homes elsewhere in the borough.

Other objections have centred on the height and density of the scheme, the loss of open space in the town centre and gentrification. While negotiations on the fine details of The Mall’s revamp are ongoing, the area is already the focus of investment in new homes.

The Essex Brewery is a collection of 183 flats near St James Street station — in Zone 3 with 17-minute trains to Liverpool Street — and a 10-minute walk from Walthamstow Central.

Named for the Essex Brewery Company, a Victorian microbrewery that was based in St James Street, prices start at £422,500 for a one-bedroom flat and £497,000 for a two-bedroom flat. Visit Crest Nicholson for more details.

For buyers who want to be close to Walthamstow Central, Walthamstow Gateway is being built on railway land right next door.

A new square has already been constructed by the station with shops, cafés and flats, and now another 79 flats are being built above a new station car park.

From £399,950 for a one-bedroom flat and £499,950 for a two-bedroom flat, Help to Buy is available and the homes will be ready to move into by next spring.

Feature 17 brings 430 new homes. This project is a regeneration of the old Marlowe Road estate, once ridden with crime and drugs, and 150 homes will be for council tenants.

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From £570,000: with Help to Buy available, three-bedroom flats at Feature 17, the regeneration of the Marlowe Road estate

Another 18 have been sold on a shared-ownership basis and first residents move in next year. By 2024 the scheme, also featuring shops and a public plaza in Wood Street, will complete.

Marlowe Road’s new incarnation has sold well with only three-bedroom flats now available, priced from £570,000, with Help to Buy available, cutting deposit requirements down to five per cent. Visit Countryside Properties for more details.

Lumiere Apartments is a boutique scheme of 18 luxury flats just around the corner from Lloyd Park and the William Morris Gallery.

Littered with brands designed to appeal to young professional buyers, including Villeroy & Boch and Hansgrohe in the bathrooms, and mod cons including smart lighting and an air ventilation system, prices start from £359,995 for a one-bedroom flat and £499,995 for a two-bedroom flat. Help to Buy is available (foxtons.co.uk).

Lovers of the bijou could consider Union Lofts, a new development of 34 studio flats with trendy skylights and with glass internal walls between sleeping and living spaces.

A 15-minute walk from Wood Street Overground station, prices range from £250,000 to £350,000 for a 320sq ft home.

The owners of all these new flats will benefit from great commuter links. From Walthamstow Central, on the Victoria line in Zone 3, trains take less than half an hour to get to the West End, and there are also links, via Highbury & Islington, to the City and Canary Wharf.

Neil Ewen, director of Central Estate Agents, has worked in Walthamstow for 19 years and has seen it transform from a run-down backwater to a fashionable hotspot.

“All the pubs that you would have just walked past have now been overhauled,” he says. “It is a much more child-friendly, family-friendly area, and some of the nicer buildings, like the William Morris Gallery, have been overhauled.”

Orford Road, Walthamstow Village’s “high street” is now part-pedestrianised and full of cafés and restaurants, from tapas at the Orford Saloon to burgers with bacon jam at Eat 17.

Europe’s largest urban wetland

A regeneration project that has really made a difference to life in E17 is Walthamstow Wetlands. This publicly funded scheme reinvented a string of Victorian reservoirs, just west of the centre of Walthamstow, into Europe’s largest urban wetland reserve.

Costing £10.6 million, the project opened last year and the 500-acre site, with its 13 miles of footpaths and cycle tracks and free entry, is a spectacular addition to the area.

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Made a difference: the regeneration of Walthamstow Wetlands

Ewen’s buyers now tend to be artists, designers, people working in media, and who work around Shoreditch and Hackney and want to live close to work.

This influx of creatives helped drive prices up between 2011 and 2014, but the current impasse over Brexit has taken its toll on sales.

Prices in the E17 postcode have been flatlining over the past two years, according to the latest data from Rightmove, along with much of the rest of the London market.

Yet strong post-recession price growth means that a typical flat in the area still costs just over £350,000 and a terrace house just over £600,000.

“The market is okay,” says Ewen. “If something is priced correctly it will sell, but it is not as good as it used to be.” He believes that everything hinges on Brexit.

“If we go out everyone will wake up the next day and realise it’s not the end of the world and the market will go up, not fast but steadily. If we don’t get a deal, then things will stay uncertain.”

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