Best London boroughs to live in post lockdown: wider streets, green space and Tube-free travel now top home buyers’ lists
Buyers have a new set of criteria in their search for a home after lockdown.
Two months of staring at their four walls and walking around the same neighbourhood have prompted Londoners to base their decision making on the safety of a district’s streets, easy access to green space and amenities, local community activities and a choice of ways to travel — including cycle lanes — in order to avoid crammed Tube trains.
Wider pavements will appeal to people living in fear of contagion and future lockdowns. Above all after Covid-19, buyers will associate space with safety.
“Buyers, who have spent a long time in their homes, will also question the quality of the architecture and how the design works,” says John Lewis, director at housing association Peabody.
“The fundamental principles of good design in both residential developments and wider neighbourhoods will become implicit in their buying decisions.”
New pavement café culture
London Mayor Sadiq Khan has announced a new streetscape programme to include the rapid creation of pop-up cycle lanes and footpaths leading to town centres.
Euston Road is one of the first major thoroughfares to get a temporary cycle lane.
“Covid-19 will have a profound effect on our streets,” says Professor Tony Travers of the London School of Economics.
He calls for local authorities to allow restaurants and bars to create a pavement café culture this summer, serving more customers out in the street while socially distancing.
Working hard to create safer streets in Lambeth
Lambeth council has taken action to create safe passage for its residents when lockdown ends.
Work began in April around Herne Hill and Loughborough Junction in Lambeth to widen pavements and calm traffic before restrictions are lifted.
Longer-term projects will follow to create safe streets leading to and from the town centres to keep residents safe and encourage them to shop locally.
“Coronavirus has dramatically changed the way people are using the streets,” says councillor Claire Holland. “Many people are walking and cycling to make essential journeys or exercise, to ensure public transport is used only by people who need it.”
There is a New York-style loft apartment on sale in the Embassy Works apartment block overlooking Vauxhall Park.
The one-bedroom flat is on the market for £650,000 through Savills. Call 020 3402 1900.
Marsh & Parsons is selling a one-bedroom house at Imperial Mewsin the heart of Brixton for £665,000, just a minute’s walk from Brixton Underground station on the Victoria line, and also close to Brixton station for trains into London Victoria.
Boroughs just right for social distancing
Only a third of pavements across Greater London are wide enough for social distancing, according to a study by University College London.
However, there’s a handful of boroughs where half the streets have six metres or more of non-road space in the form of pavements and grass verges.
The City, Barking & Dagenham, Westminster, Brent and Harrowmake up the top five boroughs by width of pavement.
Barking & Dagenham: vast regeneration
Average asking price: £317,185 (Rightmove)
The closure of three power stations has left 443 acres of Thames-side brownfield land which is being converted into a new town.
Barking Riverside has been designed around existing creeks, brooks, wetlands and ponds along a two-kilometre stretch of the Thames and will deliver 10,800 new homes with shops, healthcare facilities, restaurants, community centres and seven new schools.
A London Overground station is set to open next year.
There are a few homes left in the current phase by housing association L&Q, with prices from £237,500. Call 020 8617 1747 for details.
Also part of Barking Riverside is Fielder’s Quarter, due to complete next year. Residents here will have access to a gym, concierge service, a cycle hub and electric car charging points. The closest station is Upney Tube station.
Meanwhile in Rainham, half of Beam Park, a 3,000-home development, is made up of green space.
The River Beam runs through the scheme, which has a seven-acre park at its centre. A new railway station is under construction.
One- and two-bedroom apartments are priced from £285,000 with Help to Buy available. Visit email@example.com to contact developer Countryside.
Average asking price: £583,206
Brent, the 2020 London Borough of Culture, stretches 17 miles from the suburb of Queensbury to Kilburn on the edge of central London. The biggest development is the regeneration of Wembley Park.
When it completes, the final result will be a 7,500-home rental village.
Well-established neighbourhoods include Queens Park, Kensal Green and Kilburn, while other new schemes include Grand Unionin Alperton.
Grand Union is the redevelopment of a derelict industrial estate into a 3,000-home canalside village. Prices start from £412,000. Call 020 8733 2460.
There are one- and two-bedroom apartments at Queensbury Square in Honeypot Lane next to Queensbury Underground station, from where Jubilee line services take 25 minutes to Bond Street.
Queensbury Park and its wetlands are around the corner, as well 250-acre Fryent Country Park. Prices start from £303,000. Visit the website for more.
Harrow: village living
Average asking price: £557,782
The pretty village of Harrow on the Hill is home to the historic boarding school while the rest of Harrow, with its rows of Thirties semis, spreads out below.
A £2.2 million 10-year town upgrade is under way, to bring 5,500 new homes, 3,000 jobs, two new schools and public squares by 2025.
New residential schemes give first-time buyers access to the area. Eastman Village is the 2,000-home redevelopment of the former Kodak factory over 55 acres.
Prices start from £325,000 with a £7,000 stamp duty discount. Call 0330 127 7586.
Four two-bedroom flats are left at Redrow’s Lyon Square in Harrow. It’s designed around a central garden and residents all get access to an on-site gym and cycle storage.
Prices start from £480,000. Call 020 3733 0199.
City of London: widest pavements
Average asking price: £1,125,343
The Square Mile has the widest pavements in relation to road space of any London borough, boasting the highest percentage of streets, at 51 per cent, with non-road space.
The banking district comprises mainly offices but there are new boutique apartment blocks springing up within walking distance of these workplaces as the residential population grows.
HKR Hoxton in Hackney Road has 66 studios, one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments. There’s a gym in the building, a landscaped garden and a roof terrace.
Hackney City Farm, Haggerston Park and Columbia Road Flower Market are on the doorstep and it’s a 20-minute walk to Liverpool Street station.
Prices from £499,999. Call Savills on 020 7531 2516.
The Denizen is a tower of 99 apartments in Barbican, with an on-site cinema, reading and games rooms and concierge services.
Prices from £742,000. Call 020 3627 5770.
Westminster: boutique developments
Average asking price: £1,493,092
Plans were already under way pre-coronavirus to pedestrianise areas of Westminster, particularly around Strand, Tottenham Court Road and Marble Arch, to create more space for shoppers, calm congestion and reduce air pollution.
Such projects will be “accelerated” to make more room for people to socially distance so the West End can reopen safely, according to Jace Tyrrell, chief executive of New West End Company.
There will be staggered reopening of different department stores and shop floors, while emergency talks are in progress to plan the safe management of queues outside stations including Oxford Circus, Tyrrell tells Homes & Property.
The boutique scheme Lyons Place is in a quieter part of Westminster. The low-rise block of 24 apartments and five townhouses is set back from Regent’s Canal in Little Venice.
Prices for a one-bedroom apartment start from £850,000. Call Rokstone on 020 7580 2030 for details.