The exact moment a location makes the seismic shift from grotty and miserable to fashionable and sought after is hard to pinpoint. In the case of Peckham Rye, it could well have been the summer evening in 2008 when Frank’s Café first opened on the top of the multi-storey car park.
Spotting areas before they have made this kind of shift can bring huge rewards in terms of property prices — but early adopters suffer pain before the gain.
Pre-gentrification locations can be hard to love with their shabby high streets, lack of much to do and general air of neglect. But sometimes needs must. Here are three to consider:
Quite why it hasn’t taken off is hard to explain. Perhaps it’s the proximity to the heaving A5 Edgware Road; the lack of a Tube station; its historic popularity with waves of impoverished immigrants, or the dreary High Road with its pawnbrokers and launderettes.
But over the next five years Cricklewood should start to benefit from the £4.5 billion Brent Cross Cricklewood regeneration, with thousands of new homes, a revamped shopping centre, new high street, shops, offices, parks and schools.
A new Thameslink station opens at Cricklewood in 2021, but services are already good. Cricklewood station is in Zone 3 and you can be at Blackfriars in just over 20 minutes.
Cricklewood has good-quality period homes. Expect to pay £400,000 to £450,000 for a two-bedroom conversion flat. A four-bedroom house will cost from about £900,000, although the Victorian piles around Mapesbury Dell park are already £1 million-plus.
Abbey Wood, just south of Thamesmead, is one of the most affordable parts of London, with family houses for under £500,000. And from next year it will be linked up to the Elizabeth line, with swift City and West End trains.
Local primary schools perform well, and there are two excellent grammar schools in Bexley. Abbey Wood’s mostly not pretty, with concrete towers and boxy little ex-council houses, and there’s not much going on.
But Thamesmead is in the throes of regeneration that should have a knock-on effect, there’s plenty of green space at Birchmere and Southmere Parks, and small developers are starting to invest.
Prices for more desirable Abbey Wood homes have risen 20-25 per cent in 18 months. In Upper Abbey Wood, a three-bedroom Thirties semi costs about £425,000, near local schools and parks.
In Lower Abbey Wood, closer to the station, two-bedroom brick cottages are about £350,000, and three-bedroom terrace houses are £425,000. The few flats tend to be ex-council or in Eighties blocks, from £350,000 to £400,000 for a two-bedroom home.
Shadwell has so far missed out on the great gentrification of Tower Hamlets and is, says Adam Tahir, director of estate agents Fine & Country, “probably the grottiest part of east London”.
It shares a postcode with Wapping, but while Wapping has fine warehouse buildings, Shadwell has many ugly post-war tower blocks. Average price per square foot in Shadwell is £500-£550; in Wapping it is nearer £1,000. And unlike nearby Whitechapel and Limehouse, Shadwell has no cute cafés or gastropubs as yet.
Property options are newish-build or ex-council flats. The former often have great city views, and those overlooking Shadwell Basin or near St George’s Gardens carry a premium.
Don’t rule out ex-council, but go for a low-rise red-brick block, not a grim tower.
Tahir reckons it will take Shadwell three to five years to catch up with neighbours. “The surrounding areas are much more expensive. Crossrail will be a big change, as Whitechapel is only one stop from Shadwell… the demographic of renters and owners will start to change.”