Where to buy in London: the fast-changing areas for home buyers to have on their radar in 2020
Buyers looking to start the 2020s in a new London home face big decisions, the first being how close to the centre of the capital they need to be. But if the answer is “very”, the options don’t necessarily have to be limited.
Factors such as a history of good price growth — but with room to grow in the future — and regeneration potential are as important as the quality of local housing stock, the range of transport links and local amenities.
As the new decade gets under way Homes & Property shares its tips for London locations which appear to tick all the boxes.
Brentford, west London
One of the capital’s many industrial backwaters getting a much-needed makeover, Brentford is the west London hotspot you can afford.
Thousands of new homes are under construction overlooking the area’s three waterways – the Thames, the River Brent and Grand Union Canal – bringing with them new shops, restaurants and cultural and sporting facilities.
These new homes are augmenting the area’s existing stock of period houses, and although out in Zone 4 Brentford’s transport links are fast – trains to Waterloo station take just over half an hour.
Most local schools hold at least a “good” Ofsted report and Lionel Primary School and Gunnersbury Catholic School (seniors) are both considered “outstanding” by the schools’ watchdog.
The Brentford Project is set to bring 900 new homes, an arts centre and cinema
Why Brentford is tipped as one to watch in 2020
The smart money gets in early in the regeneration process for maximum uplift. Ballymore launched the first homes at its 12-acre site by the River Brent in September, with “exciting announcements” expected this year on the shops due to move into a rejuvenated high street.
The Brentford Project will eventually include almost 900 homes, plus facilities including a leisure centre, and an arts centre and cinema. Prices start at £442,500 for a one-bedroom flat; two-bedroom flats are priced from £652,000. Visit thebrentfordproject.com.
Ballymore is not alone in scenting potential in this town. Brentford Football Club’s home is getting a new stadium plus new homes, and another 700 or so homes are coming at Brentford Lock West (brentfordlockwest.co.uk) beside the Grand Union Canal.
The pros: proximity to the lovely Syon and Gunnersbury Parks.
The cons: regeneration comes at a price. Boat owners at the moorings at Waterman’s Park have been moved on to make way for a new marina. The High Street is basic and marred by empty shops. Motorway noise from the M4 blights some streets on the north side of Brentford.
Average house prices in Brentford — and what there is to buy
Average prices in TW8 have topped the £500,000 barrier, at £511,000 according to Rightmove. Five years ago the average price was just £376,000.
There’s not a huge number of houses in this area, which pushes up prices. A two- to three-bedroom period terrace house will cost around £550,000 to £650,000.
Flats are in plentiful supply and the new homes landing in the area have also pushed average prices upwards. Buyers have a good choice of newish two-bedroom flats – and the odd period conversion – for around £450,000 to £500,000.
More dated purpose-built two-bedroom flats have price tags closer to £300,000.
Poplar, east London
Makeover: the transformation of ChrispStreet Market is part of the multibillion-pound Poplar regeneration
Its location just north of Canary Wharf means this former Victorian slum has long been ripe for regeneration.
Now, finally, Call the Midwife country is being reinvented for the 21st century. In the pipeline are some 3,000 flats – in new buildings and revived brutalist landmarks – plus shops, offices and new parks.
There are also a few streets of period houses for families in search of a traditional home, while one of the area’s four primary schools gets an “outstanding” report.
For older children, Langdon Park Community School is rated “good”. Poplar is served by several Docklands Light Railway stations, all Zone 2.
Why Poplar is tipped as one to watch in 2020
A hugely symbolic year is in prospect for this ugly duckling of the East End as residents move back into the newly restored Balfron Tower.
The brutalist Sixties landmark designed as social housing by Ernő Goldfinger (of Notting Hill’s Trellick Tower fame), has been rebooted as upscale apartments. One-bedroom flats start at £365,000. Visit balfrontower.co.uk.
The pros: much more affordable than Canary Wharf. Lots of change on the cards. The old-school Chrisp Street Market is in line for a £280 million redevelopment with apartments and a new market, despite existing traders claiming they could be pushed out of the area. As well as stalls, there will be space for one-off events such as live music, ice rinks, vintage fairs and open-air screenings.
Regeneration of the sprawling Aberfeldy Estate, renamed Aberfeldy Village, is well under way, with more than 1,000 homes plus shops, a gym and a linear park, completing by around 2025. The High Street has a reasonable selection of useful shops, and there is green space in the form of Bartlett Park and Poplar Recreation Ground.
The cons: for all the billions of pounds being spent, Poplar is still rough and ready. The architectural Marmite that was the Robin Hood Gardens estate has been lost to redevelopment despite huge opposition to its demolition from leading architects. Critics say locals are hopelessly priced out of all the shiny new apartments springing up.
Average house prices in Poplar — and what there is to buy
Poplar shares a postcode with Canary Wharf and the Isle of Dogs, and the average price in E14 is £512,000 up a respectable 15 per cent in the past five years.
In Poplar a budget of £500,000 will buy a one-bedroom flat at Orchard Wharf by Galliard Homes, with the added benefit of a communal roof terrace with amazing views.
You could equally buy a more dated two-bedroom purpose-built flat, or a two- to three-bedroom period terrace house – although the challenge here will be finding one.
Woolwich, south-east London
Berkeley Homes’ multibillion-pound regeneration of the Woolwich Arsenal features 5,000 new homes (Daniel Lynch)
Five miles down the Thames from Canary Wharf, Woolwich is shaping up as a real alternative, with Berkeley Homes’ multibillion-pound regeneration of the Woolwich Arsenal, featuring 5,000 new homes plus bars and restaurants revamping the waterfront, and Crossrail due to upgrade transport links in 2021.
Down the line, British Land is planning a five-acre mixed development on inland Woolwich’s grotty high street, while Greenwich council has pledged £40 million to repurpose a series of historic buildings on the waterfront into arts and cultural venues.
A former ammunitions factory will become a performance venue with seating for more than 4,000 people.
Transport is provided by DLR (Zone 4), and schools include the Ofsted “outstanding” St Peter’s Catholic Primary School and Cardwell Primary School.
Why Woolwich is tipped as one to watch in 2020
Of all London’s regeneration zones, CBRE tips Woolwich to enjoy the biggest “regeneration house price growth premium” – 7.6 per cent per year.
The pros: the river. Plenty of green space, in the shape of Oxleas Wood and Plumstead Common.
The cons: Woolwich’s waterfront flats are expensive, and the streets of period homes further inland have a rather bedraggled air. Local council estates are downright scruffy.
Average house prices in Woolwich — and what there is to buy
An average home in SE18 costs £481,000, according to Rightmove, up from £272,000 five years ago – a massive 77 per cent.
These average figures hide a massive range of homes. Berkeley Homes is currently selling a splendid two-bedroom duplex at Royal Arsenal Riverside for £1.3 million. But you can buy a two-bedroom flat at the site from £600,000.
In the town centre you could pick up a four-bedroom period house for between around £550,000 and £600,000.
Prices for apartments drop the further from the river you move. A two-bedroom flat would cost between around £350,000 and £400,000, or less for ex-local authority property.
Bayswater, west London
Whiteleys shopping centre is being redesigned with new shops and restaurants, along with luxury new homes
Historically, Bayswater has been the shabbiest but also the least expensive of the neighbourhoods encircling Hyde Park.
Its shops may lack excitement but its Zone 1 location is brilliant, its unconverted townhouses are elegant and, most importantly, regeneration is gathering pace.
You can walk to the West End or hop on the Central line at Queensway station or the District and Circle from Bayswater. From 2021 a short walk to Paddington will be rewarded by Crossrail services direct to the City or Canary Wharf.
“With its neighbour Notting Hill to the west and Marylebone to the east, where values can easily exceed £3,000 per square foot, Bayswater has long been the forgotten area of prime central London,” says buying agent Caspar Harvard-Walls, partner at Black Brick.
The reason for Bayswater’s Cinderella status? “Bayswater is blighted by Queensway, which is dominated by fast-food takeaways and mobile phone shops.”
Why Bayswater is tipped as one to watch in 2020
The clean-up of Bayswater is already clear. The first homes at the landmark Grade II-listed former Whiteleys shopping centre, which closed in 2018, go on sale this year. Prices are still to be confirmed and if you need to ask, you probably can’t afford one.
There will also be shops and restaurants at the redesigned centre, rebooted by starchitect Norman Foster. Meanwhile, a cluster of smaller developments on and around Queensway will have more flats, shops and offices that will generally smarten up the street.
The pros: Bayswater is relatively underpriced for its prime location, and Crossrail and regeneration will produce price growth.
“We know the effect that improving the public realm has on property values,” says Harvard-Walls. “The redevelopment of Marylebone High Street, Mount Street in Mayfair and Sloane Square in Chelsea have led to surges in the price per square foot in those areas. We expect 2020 to be the year the wider market really starts to sit up and take notice of Bayswater.”
The cons: it is good value for prime London, but it’s still not cheap. And there are still too many shabby two-star hotels.
Average house prices in Bayswater — and what there is to buy
An average home in W2 costs £1.25 million, according to Rightmove. Unlike other prime districts, where prices have flopped 20 per cent in the past two years, values are up slightly, from £1.2 million five years ago.
White stucco townhouses, often divided into flats, could again become the area’s loveliest homes, priced at £1,500 to £1,600 per square foot for a modernised property.
Prices for newer purpose-built flats are considerably more affordable at about £1,000 per square foot.
Goodmayes, on the fringes of London and Essex
Game-changer: Weston Homes is planning a major development of almost 1,300 new homes
Right on the fringes of London and Essex, Goodmayes has got a quiet and leafy suburban feel and the kind of quality Edwardian housing which would be totally unaffordable if it was a little closer to central London.
Nobody could claim it is a chichi urban village, but this multicultural neighbourhood has both transport improvements and big investment on the horizon, making it one to watch.
It’s already a good option for people working in the City because of its 23-minute rail links to Liverpool Street, with the annual cost for a season ticket £1,400.
Goodmayes Primary School and Mayespark Primary School are rated “good” by Ofsted. For seniors the closest option is Chadwell Heath Academy, which has an “outstanding” Ofsted report and excellent GCSE results, even though half its pupils don’t have English as their first language.
Why Goodmayes is tipped as one to watch in 2020
Goodmayes will be on the Crossrail line, with direct services to the West End and west London on the cards in 2021.
Weston Homes is planning a major development of almost 1,300 new homes on a site currently occupied by a Tesco superstore, of which a third will be affordable and aimed at first-time buyers. There will also be a new primary school, shops and cafes, and landscaped grounds. A decision on the planning application is expected this year and could be a game changer for the area.
The pros: lots of bang for your property buck. Goodmayes Park has got a lake, basketball and tennis courts.
The cons: there’s nothing really wrong with it, but Goodmayes lacks a heart: traffic-clogged Goodmayes Road, while perfectly serviceable as an everyday high street, doesn’t provide one.
Average house prices in Goodmayes — and what there is to buy
Average prices in RM6 stand at £364,000, up from £263,000 five years ago – an increase of almost 40 per cent.
As yet there aren’t many flats in the area but it is a good hunting ground for houses. A four-bedroom terrace house would cost anywhere between £650,000 to £800,000.
A three-bedroom Thirties semi would cost around £400,000 to 450,000.
Blackhorse Road, north-east London
Blackhorse Road has good Zone 3 transport links, with the Victoria line and London Overground (Alamy Stock Photo)
Waltham Forest is one of London’s best-performing boroughs of the past 10 years, and this unassuming swathe of workers’ cottages, old factories and workshops is starting to emerge as a real alternative to trendy Walthamstow.
The council’s masterplan for Blackhorse Road is not only to oversee the creation of 2,500 new homes – developers are rushing to invest – but also to attract a new generation of makers, designers, artists and start-up entrepreneurs to breathe life into the area. To this end, the authority is insisting that new developments include workspaces and studios.
Blackhorse Road already possesses good Zone 3 transport links, with the Victoria line and London Overground. Schools include Hillyfield Primary Academy and St Patrick’s Primary Academy, which both hold “good” Ofsted reports, and Eden Girls’ School Waltham Forest (seniors), rated “outstanding” by the schools watchdog.
Why Blackhorse Road is tipped as one to watch in 2020
Blackhorse Road is changing, swiftly and for the better. Barratt London, London & Quadrant and Transport for London started work last summer on Blackhorse View, with 350 new homes of which half will be affordable and aimed at first-time buyers, plus 17,000sq ft of shops and workspace to a design by RMA Architects.
Design standards are generally looking high across Blackhorse Road: housing associations Catalyst and Swan are using CF Møller, the firm which designed phase two of the Darwin Centre at the Natural History Museum, to build 330 lower-cost homes on the former Webbs Industrial Estate.
The pros: Walthamstow Wetlands, London’s fantastic new nature reserve created around a series of Victorian reservoirs, is just to the west of Blackhorse Road.
The cons: a lack of much to do in terms of shops, bars and restaurants.
Average house prices in Blackhorse Road — and what there is to buy
Blackhorse Road is in E17 where average prices stand at £484,000 according to Rightmove, up from £378,000 five years ago.
The streets around Blackhorse Road Tube station are lined with neat terrace houses, originally built for local factory workers. A three-bedroom house would cost £500,000 to £550,000.
At Taylor Wimpey’s Eclipse development (taylorwimpey.co.uk) buyers could opt for a new flat, priced from £329,000 for a studio and with London Help to Buy available.
Mitcham, south London
MitchamCommon is bigger than Hyde Park, offering 460 acres of green space which stretches from the town centre to the edge of Croydon (AlamyStock Photo)
Pleasant, leafy and – to be brutally honest – rather dull, this outpost of south London is nevertheless a safe option for first-time buyers and families alike.
Its popularity stems from its affordability and good transport links. It is also earmarked for serious investment in new homes and new facilities to replace run-down council estates.
Trains from Zone 3 Mitcham Eastfields and Zone 4 Mitcham Junction will get you to Victoria in around 20 minutes, or Blackfriars in less than half an hour.
Local primary schools get an almost clean sweep of “good” reports from Ofsted, and there is a very large choice. For seniors, Harris Academy Morden is considered “outstanding” by the schools watchdog.
Why Mitcham is tipped as one to watch in 2020
Housing association Clarion is leading the £1.3 billion regeneration of three shabby post-war former council estates in the area, providing 2,800 new homes for council tenants, shared owners, renters and for private sale. There will also be new shops, leisure facilities and open spaces
The pros: the 460-acre Mitcham Common is bigger than Hyde Park.
The cons: the town centre is a boring backwater badly in need of investment. Merton council is actively seeking a developer to breathe new life into it.
Average house prices in Mitcham — and what there is to buy
Buyers are moving to Mitcham from more expensive areas including Streatham and Tooting. The average price in CR4 is £394,000, up from £281,000 five years ago according to Rightmove, a paper profit of well over £110,000.
For families a three- to four-bedroom terrace house, either Thirties or Victorian and in good condition, would cost £500,000 to £650,000. The closer to Peckham the higher the price.
There are also maisonettes priced £300,000 to £350,000 for a two-bedroom property.
At Redrow’s Millfields development (redrow.co.uk) fans of new homes could pick up a three-bedroom townhouse by the River Wandle and set in landscaped gardens, from £580,000. London Help to Buy is available.