Buying a home in Stratford: first-time buyers should look to this Crossrail district for value, travel links and thoughtful design


With the distinct look of a Spanish hacienda, new two- and three-bedroom newly launched flats are in fact in deepest east London, a stone’s throw from the Olympic Park.

Aimed at first-time buyers, homes at McGrath Road are not only a welcome respite from endless “glass box” flats, they are also seriously affordable, starting at just over £100,000 for a share of a two-bedroom home, and first-time buyers who live or work anywhere in London are eligible to apply so long as their annual household income is less than £90,000 (site-sales.co.uk).

The homes, designed by award-winning Peter Barber Architects, overlook a communal courtyard garden square and each has its own private balcony or a roof terrace. 

McGrath Road is just slightly east of the Olympic Park, away from the increasing noise and buzz surrounding Stratford but still within easy striking distance.

The nearest station is Maryland which has services to Liverpool Street in only 11 minutes. It will form part of the eastern section of Crossrail, too, which means fast direct services to the West End and Heathrow are on the horizon.

The heart of Stratford is a 20-minute walk away — or a two-minute hop on the train — so the retail delights of Westfield Stratford City and the sports, arts, culture and green space of the Olympic Park are on the doorstep.

Over the next few years music venues, theatres and museums will open in and around the park, making the whole area a more exciting, vibrant place to live. 

£10k deposit: flats at McGrath Road, E15, are for sale on a shared-equity basis, using a Newham council equity loan

McGrath Road homes are being sold on a shared-equity basis, a scheme similar to shared ownership.

Buyers who already live or work in Newham can buy a minimum 25 per cent of a flat, with the rest of the money provided by an equity loan from Newham council. 

Two-bedroom flats have a full value of £405,000, so this will mean raising a deposit of about £10,000, and a mortgage of just over £90,000. Those who live elsewhere in the capital can buy a minimum 50 per cent share, effectively doubling these costs. 

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Thriving: seven years after the London Olympics, Stratford has turned from suburban nonentity to genuine property hotspot (Daniel Lynch)

The real upside of shared equity is that buyers will not have to pay rent on the proportion of the home they don’t own. This will cut their costs down to mortgage repayments plus a service charge of £80 per month.When the property is sold the buyer will share its sale price with the council, taking out the same proportion that they own.

Stratford just keeps on winning

Seven years after the London Olympics, Stratford is thriving. Its fantastic transport links and relative affordability, combined with overwhelming demand for new homes in London, have turned it from suburban nonentity to genuine property hotspot. The regeneration of Stratford is now entering a second phase which even Britain’s messy divorce from Europe hasn’t derailed.

Average property prices in the E15 postcode stood at £236,000 at the start of 2012, according to Rightmove. Today the figure’s £422,000. And while it hasn’t entirely escaped London’s widespread price cutting amid Brexit uncertainty, Stratford values have still increased by an average £40,000.

“If you scratch beneath the surface there is not all that much stock,” says Jack Arkell, an associate at JLL property group. “Developers are very cautious at the moment [about the timing of new homes launches]. That restriction has kept things on an even keel, and demand is still quite strong.”

London Legacy Development Corporation, overseeing the future of Stratford, says 3,517 new homes have been built within the park since 2012, with just over four in 10 lower-cost, aimed at first-time buyers and renters at subsidised rates.

Another 1,447 are under construction. Across the wider Stratford area 6,435 homes have been built, of which just under a third are lower-cost. Another 14,598 have planning permission, of which one in five is “affordable”

Those who will one day call Stratford home can look forward to an increasingly exciting range of new arts and cultural venues, waterfront homes to rent and buy, inspiring new workplaces and some brilliant contemporary architecture.

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In at the start: in the heart of East Village, Neighbourhood restaurant and bar was one of the first businesses to open in the Olympic Park, E20 (Daniel Lynch)

Stratford: the destination

MSG Sphere: the newest kid on Stratford’s block is a giant orb-shaped music venue. The Madison Square Garden Company plans to build The Sphere, 295ft tall and with a 21,500 maximum capacity, a nightclub, shops, restaurants and open spaces on a 4.7-acre site.

East Bank: bringing highbrow culture to the mix by 2023, East Bank, the educational quarter, will include the London College of Fashion, the BBC’s music-recording operations and a new 550-seat Sadler’s Wells theatre. There will also be a new outpost of the Victoria & Albert Museum. 

UCL East: a new outpost of University College London will eventually be almost half the size of the university’s main Bloomsbury centre.

Here East: this £1.2 million haven for business start-ups working alongside more established firms is already up and running beside the River Lee Navigation. As well as inspiring offices and studios, Here East has shops, independent cafés and riverside restaurants including Shane’s On Canalside, making it worth a visit even if you don’t work there.

Gateway Pavilion: International Quarter London is Stratford’s central business district. There are already in the region of 6,300 people working there, with staff from Cancer Research UK and the British Council due to join this year. Last summer planning permission was granted for a striking timber pavilion featuring restaurants, a roof terrace and flexible workspace.

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New Garden Quarter: a garden square-inspired scheme of 471 flats for shared ownership, sale and rent just west of the Olympic Park

The new homes developments to watch

New Garden Quarter: this garden square-inspired scheme of 471 flats for shared ownership, sale and rent just west of the Olympic Park has gone down well, with 80 per cent of its market sale homes taken, says developer Telford Homes (telfordhomes.london). Prices start at £435,000 for a one-bedroom flat. Two-bedroom flats start from £642,500 and three-bedroom homes from £662,500. Two-bedroom rental flats start at £1,760 a month (foliolondon.co.uk), while housing association Notting Hill Genesis (nhgsales.com) has shared-ownership flats from £105,000 for 25 per cent of a one-bedroom flat.

Stratosphere, also by Telford, a 36-storey tower of 342 flats, is sold out at an average £675 per sq ft.

East Wick and Sweetwater: five neighbourhoods are being built in the Olympic Park and a £78 million Government loan will go towards the creation of East Wick, close to Hackney Wick, and Sweetwater, by the Olympic Stadium. Together they will provide 1,500 new homes, with just over a third lower-cost, plus schools, offices and leisure facilities. The first of 302 homes at East Wick will complete next year.

The first market sale homes will launch next spring (eastwickandsweetwater.co.uk). It is hoped that both these neighbourhoods will be completed by 2028 or 2029.

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From £100,000: shared-equity flats at McGrath Road, by the award-winning practice of architect Peter Barber

Sugar House Island: just south of Stratford High Street, the first of 1,200 planned homes, from starter flats to mews houses, go on sale next year (sugarhouseisland.com). A sustainable waterfront neighbourhood is promised, with office space, restaurants, bars, cafés, a new primary school and a hotel. 

Stratford Waterfront: a planning application was lodged late last year for 600 homes to be built within the Olympic Park’s cultural and educational district, otherwise known as East Bank. The design is based on London’s traditional garden squares and half of the homes, by the River Lea, will be affordable housing, aimed at first-time buyers and low- and middle-income renters. London Legacy Development Corporation plans to start work on the homes once East Bank is complete. There is as yet no fixed date for completion.

East Village Extension: East Village is the former Games Athlete’s Village, now converted into rental properties priced from £1,630 a month for a one-bedroom flat. Build to rent specialist Get Living (getliving.com) is now extending the village with another 524 apartments in four blocks up to 31 storeys, which will take its total number of rental homes in the area to 2,500.



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