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Millions in London are feeling the “Crossrail Effect”

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Transport for London (TfL) has announced that the highly anticipated Elizabeth line, known as Crossrail, will open on 24 May, marking a historic moment for the capital. Massive in size and ambitious in scope, the Crossrail project is so much more than a smart upgrade for the Greater London tube network. Stretching over 100km from Reading and Heathrow in the west, to Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the east, it represents a major infrastructural commitment to the growth and prosperity of Southeast England. By creating a super-fast rail link that passes right through the City and the West End, Crossrail automatically puts an extra 1.5 million people within 45 minutes of Central London. International travel also gets a huge boost – imagine being able to catch a flight to Singapore or Dubai, only half an hour after leaving your Docklands office or apartment. This is the exciting new reality that the Elizabeth Line represents with a regular fast service (every five minutes) from Canary Wharf to Heathrow Terminal 5.

Outer London gets a look-in

Property-wise, there is keen interest in many previously overshadowed areas of the Capital that now find themselves lining the route of this ultra-convenient transport link. Fringe suburbs like Southall and Hayes can now be considered as serious lifestyle options with commuting times similar to many prime outer London neighbourhoods. The power to expand London’s influence while simultaneously contracting travel times makes the Elizabeth Line a complete and comprehensive game changer.

Property prices have long been a reliable indicator of a project’s viability in the Capital and a look at some of the figures shows just how much anticipation has built up over the last five years.

The big winners

The following table shows gives a snapshot of the rising profitability in areas that are part of the Elizabeth Line network

Elizabeth Line station Average house price, Feb 2016 Average house price, Feb 2021 Five-year increase (%) Average house price, Dec 2021
Ilford £270,463 £353,194 30.6% £473,393
Chadwell Heath £267,915 £363,001 35.5% £378,017
Woolwich £332,106 £383,278 15.4% £390,076
Abbey Wood £292,211 £349,674 19.70% £370,690
Hayes & Harlington £302,023 £411,750 36.3% £401,780
Southall £285,511 £422,679 48.0% £422,836

All areas benefited from the announcement of the rail initiative and prices rose accordingly. Only Hayes has slightly dipped in the last year with others making modest gains. Ilford is the other exception with prices continuing to increase sharply.

Think about it for a moment. The Elizabeth Line was initially scheduled to open in late 2018/early 2019, yet, despite delays (nobody saw Covid coming), prices have continued on an upward trajectory. That’s because over 300,000 new jobs and 90,599 new homes are tied up in this venture. There is now a skilled and motivated workforce that requires the good schools, family-friendly green spaces and good amenities that the outer fringes of the Capital are well-known for. They now get access to these benefits while still being within an hour from their well-renumerated London jobs. End result? A series of property micro-booms in streets that are located within 1km from any of the 41 stations on the Elizabeth Line.

The areas that have most benefited are those positioned just outside the orbit of the main underground networks, but which are now transformed by Crossrail into major transport hubs. Developers have been quick to capitalise on this evolution and a number of smart new builds have sprung up. All this is good news for both the far-sighted investor and the discerning tenant.

Invest in the West

In the West, we see neighbourhoods like Hayes and Southall really taking off over the last five-years. Comparatively cheap housing stock has allowed plenty of investment and proximity to Heathrow Airport is also seen as a plus. A photogenic stretch of the Grand Union Canal runs through Southall which also has a fascinatingly diverse culinary scene and a high street full of vibrant colours.

Nearer to London, Ealing has always been a favourite of media professionals and other creatives. Investment here requires more outlay, but new developments are close to historic parks and the exceptional schools clustered around Hammersmith. Paddington serves as the gateway to the West End and the area around the main rail terminus has been given a total facelift. Walking to work along the canal from here or up to Little Venice is a life-affirming pleasure that many will be keen to experience.

Area Elizabeth Line station New Development(s) Journey time to Bond Street (mins)
Hayes Hayes & Harlington Hayes Village Current time 80
Crossrail time 22
Southall Southall The Green Quarter Current time 75
Crossrail time 20
Ealing Ealing Broadway Filmworks
Dickens Yard
Current time 23
Crossrail time 12
Paddington Paddington West End Gate Current time 7
Crossrail time 2

Undiscovered gems and honourable mentions:

  • West Drayton.
    A West London suburb that borders Hayes and contains many well-regarded primary schools.
  • Slough.
    Formerly famous for being Windsor’s ugly twin, now one of the fastest growing job creation hubs in the UK. Journey times to London have been radically shortened and Horlicks Quarter is a fabulous new development.
  • Reading.
    Basically, halfway to Southampton and nowhere near a London suburb, but, once again, Crossrail changes the game. Now predicted to be one of the fastest growing locations in the UK. Tenants here will be able to get into Central London in under half an hour. Unprecedented.

Beyond the City

Thanks to the huge success of the 2012 Olympics, areas around East and Southeast London have been getting “Crossrail ready” for some time. Grand vistas of the Docklands skyline and the River Thames, a visible industrial heritage and plenty of open parkland are all part of the attraction. Neighbourhoods near to the Elizabeth Line are booming:

Area Elizabeth Line station New Development(s) Journey time to Bond Street (mins)
Whitechapel Whitechapel Silk District Current time 23
Crossrail time 10
Woolwich Woolwich Royal Arsenal Riverside Current time 41
Crossrail time 21
Stratford Stratford International Stratford Plaza Current time 22
Crossrail time 15

Undiscovered gems and honourable mentions:

  • Brentwood
    Located on the Essex stretch of the M25, so is already a commuter belt town of some note. There are acres of woodland and open green spaces surrounding this family-friendly suburb which is also home to a top-achieving independent school.
  • Maryland
    Living near to Stratford, residents can take advantage of being close by to one of Europe’s largest retail malls (Westfield Stratford Shopping City), while also being able to avoid the heavy traffic and footfall that such amenities sometimes bring to the neighbourhood.

So, after an almost £20 billion outlay, is the Elizabeth Line worth the investment? History tells us that no great municipal leap forward is possible without a major transportation rethink. This was true of Docklands and its light railway and also of the 2012 Olympics which relied heavily on the Jubilee Line extension. In fact, many London suburbs owe their very existence to the aptly named Metropolitan Line, which opened up vast areas of countryside for the Capital’s expanding populace. Any initiative that can slash journey times in half is going to be beneficial to a cash rich/time poor demographic and investors are among the first to realise this fundamental fact.


About the Author

Established in 1958, Benham and Reeves is one of London’s oldest, independently owned property lettings and sales agents.  With specialism in residential sales, corporate lettings and property management in prime areas of London, the company operates from 21 prominently located branches and 14 international offices.