Where to buy in east London: Crossrail and £105m investment coming to Ilford, where flats cost £238k


The Elizabeth line may be stuck in the sidings until 2020 but at least it has kick-started the regeneration of Ilford. The prospect of new fast trains is bringing this scruffy East End outpost everything from new skyscrapers to hip street food markets.

The Crossrail project will cut journey times to Tottenham Court Road to 22 minutes, with Canary Wharf in 17 minutes, while existing services to Liverpool Street only take 18 minutes, which should make Ilford a commuter’s dream.

And, despite an almost 60 per cent rise in average property prices in five years, prices in Ilford are still among the lowest in London. The average price of a flat is £238,000, according to Rightmove, with a terrace house at £475,000.

Ilford’s largely low-rise skyline of streets of Thirties semis plus the odd post-war council block will soon be joined by the area’s first bona fide skyscraper.

From £325,000: new apartments launching this spring on the old Britannia Music Club site in Ilford, with towers of up to 23 storeys, by developer Durkan (durkan.co.uk)

Redbridge council is considering whether to approve an application to build a 380-home, 42-storey tower right by the station on the site of the delightfully named former Bodgers department store, which closed last year.

The tower, called One Station Road will feature sky terraces for residents and a ground-floor arcade of shops. About a third of the homes will be priced for first-time buyers. A decision is expected later this year.

TUNE IN AND TURN ON

The town centre site that was home to Britannia Music Club, a mail order firm owned by PolyGram, has been empty 10 years.

Now work has started on a £105 million project to redevelop it with 354 flats in three blocks of up to 23 storeys. The developer, Durkan, says one-, two- and three-bedroom homes will go on sale in spring, priced from £325,000.

About 200 of the flats are being built to rent, while 93 for shared ownership will become available later this year through Southern Housing Group.

Mark Sinclair, manager of Payne & Co estate agents, says buyers come to Ilford because they have been priced out of other parts of London.

“They would probably rather live in Stratford or Forest Gate, a bit further in, but they can’t afford it,” he says. “So they come to Ilford because it is the next place along.”

These buyers are also driven by the area’s quality schools, with Cleveland Road Primary and Little Ilford School among those rated “outstanding” by Ofsted. And for open green space, the wilds of Wanstead Flats are just west of the town centre.

First impressions of Ilford aren’t brilliant; the A123 is lined with shops, but it’s not a place you want to stroll and have a coffee.

There are too many empty storefronts and low-rent chains and charity shops to make it a destination. But Redbridge council began a £15 million town centre upgrade last year, focusing on investment in paving, lighting and tree planting.

More excitingly, it has approved a £7 million project, set to open this summer, to create a “cultural quarter” with a new outdoor food market on the town hall car park to be run by Mercato Metropolitano, the company behind the hugely popular Elephant & Castle foodie pop-up. There will also be artists’ studios, a gallery and small business workspaces.

AIMED AT LOW EARNERS

The major town centre landmark, the Exchange shopping centre, is dated but is now under the new ownership of developer Capital & Regional which paid £78 million for the site in 2017.

It came with planning permission to extend and revamp the mall attached, which could include more than 200 new homes as well as space for cafés, bars and restaurants.

Change never comes without controversy, and last year Tory Sajid Javid, during his brief stint as housing minister, approved the £200 million regeneration of a Sainsbury’s site in the centre of Ilford, even though only four per cent of the 683 homes have been earmarked for low earners.

The Greater London Authority has a 50 per cent target for affordable homes on new developments, and Redbridge council had rejected the proposal before Javid, now Home Secretary, stepped in.

A Sainsbury’s spokeswoman could not comment on when work is due to start but when complete, Chapel Square will add another piece to the emerging Ilford jigsaw with new shops, restaurants and hundreds of homes arranged within a series of landscaped squares and gardens.

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