London’s next property hotspot: Lea Valley’s new urban community will include thousands of new homes, school and arts hub

The ancient Lea Valley, once dubbed London’s “privy, workshop and backyard”, is being transformed into a 13-mile stretch of modern urban waterfront with more than 100,000 new homes and four new town centres, all helping, long term, to lead the city out of the coronavirus crisis.

Running from Ponders End in Enfield down to the Thames at Bow Creek, and along the edge of the 10,000-acre Lee Valley Regional Park, the area accounts for just three per cent of the Greater London footprint, yet its pipeline of residential schemes is set to meet a fifth of the capital’s housing needs over the next 20 years.

A new report by property group JLL reveals that a 105,300 homes will be built along the Lea Valley by 2040, with 23,500 homes due to complete within the next five years.

The former industrial basin is one of the most sparsely populated areas of London but housing density will change from 1,600 homes per square kilometre to 2,500.

“The regeneration of the Lea Valley presents a huge opportunity to make full use of its waterways and green space and provide significant housing,” says Nick Whitten, head of residential research at JLL.

Building on an industrial legacy

The River Lea rises on Lea Common in Bedfordshire and runs 50 miles to the Thames.

Often described as London’s forgotten river, it was teeming with trade as early as the 11th century when its flowing waters were used to power flour mills and to transport timber.

In 1878, the Gas, Light and Coke Company laid out a small factory town at Bow Common with terrace streets, factories and a school. Only the warehouses remain.

The east bank was home to the Thames Ironworks which built HMS Warrior, the first iron-clad battleship.

“The area became one of intense noisy, smelly activity where factories produced toxic chemical products to supply the world with paint, varnish, printing ink, oil, gum, resins, soap and glue,” a report by Historic England reads.

Today, this special stretch of London is where industry meets wilderness and overgrown towpaths run under busy roads. There are pockets of silence before paths branch off in to bustling urban areas such as Stratford and Walthamstow.

It is home to Edmonton EcoPark which burns rubbish from seven London boroughs to generate electricity for the National Grid, while its 13 reservoirs supply London with much of its drinking water.

London’s new waterside towns

The JLL report highlights four new town centres that are coming to the Lea Valley: Bow Creek & Aberfeldy Village, TwelveTrees at West Ham, Sugar House Island and Meridian Water.

“Over the next 20 years, Lea Valley prices are forecast to rise by more than 90 per cent,” says Whitten, who, in addition to the four new urban centres, adds Tottenham Hale, Ponders End and Lea Bridge as local districts set for major growth.

Meridian Water: Enfield council is leading a £6 billion, 20-year regeneration scheme over 86 acres with the developer Vistry Partnership.

The first phase of homes is being built around the new train station and the second will bring 250 affordable homes and a makers’ workspace.

A new boulevard will connect Meridian Water to the Lee Valley Regional Park

The north London council wants to create a “24-hour” scene with theatre, pubs, restaurants and live music venues while a new boulevard will connect to the Lee Valley Regional Park over the waterways.

Sugar House Island: planning permission was received only last week for a new two-form entry primary school which will accompany 1,200 homes on the Three Mills River.

There will be new riverside walks and bridges as Sugar House Island, a short walk to the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, is bounded by water on two sides.

The one-, two- and three-bedroom flats and three- and four-bedroom mews homes will be set around garden courtyards.

Global publisher Phaidon will be the first business to relocate to the 624,000sq ft of office space. The first phase of rental homes will launch this year.

TwelveTrees at West Ham: Berkeley Homes is due to start construction work transforming dead car parks between West Ham station and Bromley-by-Bow.

The TwelveTrees scheme will comprise 3,800 rental and sales homes, retail and office space and 26 acres of green space with new bridges that run from the site over the railway to West Ham train station.

Early estimates put the starting price of its studios below the £400,000 mark.

Bow Creek & Aberfeldy Village: Developer Ecoworld, with architects Levitt Bernstein, have redeveloped the post-war Aberfeldy housing estate on a pocket of self-contained land between the A12, A13 and the River Lea.

Disused warehouses have been made good and new routes will link the site to the outside world.


London City Island in Bow Creek, a new neighbourhood on the site of an old margarine factory

One- and two-bedroom homes are on sale, from £415,000. Call 020 3993 9158.

Mount Anvil and Peabody are creating 300 homes at the Three Waters scheme as part of Bow Creek regeneration.

Prices start from £376,500 for a studio flat. Call 020 7776 5755.

London City Island in Bow Creek, a new neighbourhood on the site of an old margarine factory, offers flats, cafés and restaurants, an arts club and gardens with an outdoor swimming pool and new HQ for English National Ballet and London Film School.

Prices start from £535,000. Call 020 3944 1610.

Good Luck Hope is the neighbouring scheme. Prices at the collection of warehouse-style one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments and townhouses start from £390,000. Call 020 3993 9158.

Where to buy now: Blackhorse Road

Walthamstow has long appealed to first-time buyers who head there after renting in Hackney where they cannot afford to buy, says Saima Razaq of Foxtons.

But this trend has pushed up prices. Better value can be found along Blackhorse Road, where a two-bedroom Victorian terrace can be had for about £550,000.

Razaq recently sold a four-bedroom period house there, with exposed brickwork, bifold doors, extension and a garden, for £706,000.


From £316,000: apartments in 21-storey Lock 17, overlooking the River Lea at Tottenham Hale

“This area was lacking lifestyle but that is starting to come along now,” she says, citing the popular Blackhorse Workshop, a café with creative space that runs metalwork and woodwork courses.

Cycling lanes are being created along the stretch, too, which will flow into the 26 miles of existing bike paths throughout the valley.

Lock 17 at Tottenham Hale overlooks the River Lea and a park called The Paddock. Two new pedestrian bridges will link to the Lee Valley Regional Park.

Homes in the 141-unit 21-storey tower start from £316,500 through JLL. Call 020 3553 6811.

For those who want to buy in the well- established Olympic town of Stratford, L&Q has launched 22 one- to three-bedroom shared-ownership homes in the Stratford Works scheme, part of the wider Chobham Farm 1,000-home masterplan.

Prices start from £93,750 for a 25 per cent share of a one-bedroom apartment. Visit for more information.

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