The other way is Es­sex

The Daily Telegraph - Property - - Crossrail -

(Read­ing, Slough and Eal­ing) are flock­ing out here to Es­sex.

There are two es­tate agents di­rectly op­po­site the sta­tion, barely 50 yards from the buf­fers. It may be another two years be­fore Cross­rail fi­nally opens, but al­ready prices have gone up 30 per cent, boosted by the news that it will even­tu­ally take just 48 min­utes to get right into Bond Street.

At Ab­botts es­tate agents you can buy a three-bed­room house for £310,000 and a three-bed bun­ga­low for £400,000. At the lower end of the mar­ket, a ground-floor flat has just gone for £110,000.

At neigh­bour­ing agents Hil­bery Chap­lin, two-bed­room semi-de­tached houses are fetch­ing £235,000£300,000, while swankier homes are on the mar­ket for any­thing from £650,000 to £995,000; some of them, it should be men­tioned, haven’t even been built yet. Yes, it’s prop­erty boom time in this part of Es­sex.

The county as a whole has ev­ery­thing you could need, from re­mote coun­try piles for mil­lion­aires seek­ing ru­ral soli­tude to bach­e­lor pads in Brent­wood – home to the pop­u­lar ITV re­al­ity show The Only Way is Es­sex – for first-time buy­ers want­ing nightlife on their doorstep. But, while some of the lo­ca­tions along the Cross­rail line have al­ready been “dis­cov­ered”, such as Il­ford or Rom­ford, there are plenty of less well­known spots to ex­plore.

At Harold Hill, for ex­am­ple, it will take Cross­rail pas­sen­gers just 68 min­utes to get to Heathrow. No won­der, then, that there’s an enor­mous new hous­ing de­vel­op­ment across the road from the sta­tion. Even the name of the area has been changed. Amid gi­ant glam­orous pho­to­graphs of what the place will even­tu­ally look like, there’s a huge crown on a sign that says “Kings Park – Harold Wood”. When they are com­pleted, a one-bed­room place will set you back £250,000, or £340,000 for a two-bed home.

Next to a pa­rade of shops with ev­ery­thing from a Co-op and a bak­ery to a post of­fice and a pub called the King Harold. There’s even a big ad­ver­tise­ment for Drap­ers’ Academy, the lo­cal school graded “good” by the Of­sted in­spec­tors.

The go­ing rate else­where in Harold Hill is £250,000 for a two-bed house and £300,000-£395,000 for three bed­rooms, ac­cord­ing to es­tate agents De­laney’s and Haart.

One stop nearer to Lon­don, at Gidea Park, the of­fices of Bairstow Eves es­tate agents dis­play tes­ti­mo­ni­als, chron­i­cling peo­ple’s rea­sons for want­ing to move there.

“Miss B and Mr W are look­ing for a one or two-bed maisonette”, reads one of half a dozen green signs. “They both com­mute to Lon­don daily, and a prop­erty within walk­ing dis­tance of the sta­tion would be ideal, up to £275,000.”

Another sign in­tro­duces Mr and Mrs R, “who are cash buy­ers up to £375,000”. That would be enough to buy them a £300,000 maisonette, “just a stone’s throw from Gidea Park sta­tion”, or, al­ter­na­tively, a onebed­room flat for £164,995 plus a first floor maisonette at £179,995, on with the Dwellings es­tate agency.

Even from the train, you see huge ban­ners advertisin­g new flats at Old­church Park, Rom­ford, and yet more apart­ments be­ing built on the Olympic Park, in Stratford.

It’s only when you start get­ting nearer to Lon­don that the sup­ply dries up. Get off at Seven Kings, for ex­am­ple, just six stops from Liver­pool Street, and the es­tate agents are sud­denly few and far be­tween: out­num­bered by car deal­er­ships.

There’s no ques­tion that for Shen­field the im­pend­ing ar­rival of Cross­rail has de­liv­ered a new lease of life to some pre­vi­ously dis­re­garded parts of the cap­i­tal.

Once upon a time, it was only the smoke and fumes of Vic­to­rian Lon­don that trav­elled to­wards East Lon­don, car­ried upon the pre­vail­ing breeze.

Now, how­ever, the eco­nomic wind has changed, the clean air acts are in force, and the time has come for cap­i­tal-dwellers to look to­wards not just the east but to Es­sex.

Brent Hall, Lit­tle War­ley, near Brent­wood: £3.35m through Sav­ills (01245 269 311)

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