With four clear days ahead you could spend the Easter weekend in an orgy of chocolate, hot cross buns, guilt and regret. Or you could use it to change your life.
Easter traditionally marks the start of the spring house hunting season. Many vendors and developers wait until April to market properties, hoping decent weather, bulbs in bloom and a few days off work will put buyers in the mood to spend.
Whether you are looking for a new flat or a period house, the best price-rise potential will invariably be found in areas where regeneration money is starting to pour in, and where transport links are improving. So get ready to explore the different compass points of London.
NORTH LONDON: Wood Green
Haringey council only last month agreed to a £2 billion land deal which will see Elephant and Castle developer Lendlease create 5,000 new homes and a new town centre for this down-at-heel but well-connected outpost of north London.
Tenants of estates earmarked for demolition under the proposals fear they will be priced out of “new Wood Green”. But tatty, unpretty, and in parts unwelcoming, this area could really benefit from regeneration. Its plus sides include a Zone 3 station, on the Piccadilly line, and streets of good Victorian and Edwardian stock for relatively affordable prices. A three-bedroom house will cost about £650,000, and a two-bedroom flat £400,000-£430,000. The top prices are on the Crouch End borders.
Downsides include very variable schools, an ugly post-war shopping centre and an undeniable undercurrent of gangs and violence. Met Police figures show the crime rate — of 14.56 incidents per 1,000 people — is higher than average for this section of north London, though in fairness rates are always higher around shopping centres where bag snatchers and shoplifters are about.
This area has also struggled to throw off a slightly grimy reputation, but buying agent Jo Eccles, managing director of Sourcing Property, believes its location between two much more expensive areas means prices will rise. “There is still an approximate 20 per cent price difference between West Kilburn’s price per square foot values versus neighbouring Queen’s Park to the north and Maida Vale to the south.
“Four years ago, when we first started buying there for clients, that price gap was closer to 40 per cent. You can buy a two-bedroom flat for about £550,000 but we expect the price gap to close completely over the next three to five years.” Eccles already sees key gentrification hallmarks in West Kilburn, with new coffee shops in Shirland Road and skips outside houses.
SOUTH LONDON: Kingston upon Thames
There’s nothing wrong with this outpost of south-west London but compared with other “on Thames” rivals, such as Richmond and Walton, it has always lacked va-va-voom. Neither pretty nor villagey, Kingston does have good shops, trains to Waterloo in just over half an hour, and some of the country’s best state schools, with “oustanding” Tiffin School the particular prize.
The riverside, and some pockets of the town centre, are charming, and a £400 million plan to revamp the Sixties-built Eden Walk Shopping centre is set to bring new shops, restaurants, a cinema and 400 flats. Work is due to start in 2019.
In the meantime, property ranges from huge modern trophy homes on the Coombe Estate to modest starter flats. A three- bedroom period semi would cost £700,000-£750,000, and a two-bedroom flat from £500,000- £600,000. At swish Queenshurst, being built by Berkeley Homes on the site of an old gasworks, one-bedroom flats start at £470,000 with two-bedroom flats from £610,000 ().
South of the river, Graham Lawes, a director at JLL, believes Catford is ripe for price rises: “With genuine hype about the regeneration and infrastructure change in Lewisham, it is inevitable that the ripple of change will be felt in surrounding postcodes. Catford borders Lewisham to the south and is, by and large, made up of long, tree-lined avenues of late-Victorian homes of all shapes and sizes.
“Significantly cheaper (10 to 15 per cent) than similar properties in Lewisham, my prediction for 2017 and beyond is that we will see a spike in activity in the SE6 postcode.”
EAST LONDON: Fish Island
A small outpost south of Hackney Wick, this isn’t strictly speaking an island. But with the Hertford Canal to the north, the River Lea to the west and the A12 cutting off its western frontier, it feels like one.
The name is more romantic than the place but its location is terrific. With the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park on one side and Victoria Park a quarter of a mile away, it is almost surrounded by green, with Hackney Wick trains to Liverpool Street from 20 minutes, and all the facilities of Stratford within an easy walk.
Throw in Hackney Wick’s bars and restaurants, and you’ve got an area ripe to explode. Right now there’s not a lot in Fish Island other than big box trade stores, but the appearance of The Lighthouse gastropub in Wick Lane is a tip to the direction this area is going in.
Developers Peabody and Hill certainly think so, teaming up to build almost 600 new homes plus a centre for start-up companies at Fish Island Village (). Prices have not been announced as yet, but expressions of interest are being taken and the homes will go on sale in late spring. The first residents should be moving in next year.
Fish Island’s industrial past means there aren’t a lot of homes to buy at the moment — enterprising artists really ought to be scouring its streets for small disused garages and outbuildings, just like the Young British Artists did in Shoreditch two decades ago. However, some small developments have sprung up. CBRE is selling flats at Carpenters Wharf, which you’ll find in Roach Road — among several Fish Island streets named after fish — with prices starting at £581,500 for two-bedroom homes. Help to Buy is available, meaning a five per cent deposit.
WEST LONDON: White City
Just west of pukka Prime Central London, White City’s ugly acres of estates, factories and warehouses, criss-crossed by railway lines and busy roads, have been ignored for years. But regeneration is hurtling in.
Redevelopment includes the BBC’s famous “doughnut” building at Television Centre, which is being converted into luxury flats complete with an outpost of Soho House. Berkeley Homes is developing a site across the road with 1,500 new homes. The already huge Westfield London is spreading to become Europe’s biggest shopping centre with a new John Lewis flagship store opening next year, as well as more than 1,000 new homes. And Imperial College is building a new research campus in the area.
Hammersmith & Fulham council has just granted permission for the railway arches along Wood Lane to be turned into shops, restaurants, cafés and bars, which will provide a nice human-scale touch and a contrast to Westfield. White City seems to have more cranes and bulldozers than people just now, but its plus points are its Zone 2 station, on the Central line, and proximity to Wormwood Scrubs park.
The latest tranche of Television Centre flats start at £750,000 and the priciest penthouse is £7 million. The area’s Victorian mansion flats sell for about £500,000 for a two-bedroom home. Ex-council flats on the Art Deco and rather nice White City Estate are better value at about £400,000 for a two-bedroom home.