Ris­ing in the east: the only way is up for Es­sex

The Daily Telegraph - Property - - Front Page -

it comes to prop­erty prices, the only way is up. Some Es­sex hotspots are out­per­form­ing many ar­eas of Lon­don, with av­er­age price rises of 50 per cent or more dur­ing the past five years. Th­ese in­clude Har­low, Hock­ley, Basil­don and Grays. First-time buy­ers are also in­creas­ingly at­tracted to the county as it boasts one of the high­est lev­els of new-build hous­ing de­vel­op­ments, many of which can – for now – be bought us­ing Help to Buy.

A num­ber of buy­ers from trendy ar­eas of east Lon­don who are look­ing for easy com­mutes and more space are mov­ing out to Es­sex, says Stephen White of Sav­ills. “We are see­ing peo­ple from af­flu­ent city-cen­tre lo­ca­tions such as Wap­ping, Shored­itch and Hack­ney fol­low­ing the A12 cor­ri­dor north to Brent­wood, Shen­field, Chelms­ford and Colch­ester,” he says. “£1million in cen­tral Lon­don will buy just un­der 1,389 sq ft of house, but 2,490 sq ft in Chelms­ford, for ex­am­ple.”

With the ex­cep­tion of Kent, Es­sex is the most af­ford­able of the Home Coun­ties, ac­cord­ing to data from Sav­ills. The av­er­age prop­erty in Es­sex sold for £341,570 dur­ing the past year, com­pared with £418,989 in Buck­ing­hamshire, £423,790 in Berk­shire, £463,516 in Hert­ford­shire and £534,035 in Sur­rey.

“Es­sex is a county on the up, with thou­sands of Lon­don­ers mov­ing out of the cap­i­tal to its many at­trac­tive and ap­peal­ing towns and cities,” says Ian Gorst, re­gional chair­man of house­builder Bell­way Homes’ south-east busi­ness. “Es­sex has both af­ford­ably priced homes and di­verse sur­round­ings, from vi­brant town cen­tres and ex­quis­ite vil­lages to un­spoilt coun­try­side and the sea­side.”

Bell­way Homes has 16 schemes across the county in ar­eas where much-needed re­gen­er­a­tion is tak­ing shape. It has built in ar­eas such as the east Lon­don sub­urbs of Hornchurch and Rain­ham, as well as Rochford, near Southend-on-Sea.

A city since 2012, Chelms­ford has im­proved in re­cent years. Prop­erty prices in­creased by 40 per cent be­tween 2010 and 2017. A 35-minute train ride into Liver­pool Street, this com­muter hub has more Costa Cof­fee branches than any­where else in the UK (13), and al­though not choco­late­box charm­ing, there’s a pretty flint cathe­dral. The con­ser­va­tion area of Old Moul­sham, south of the river Can, has a good choice of in­de­pen­dent shops.

Chelms­ford’s high street and Bond Street have been much im­proved with higher-end shop­ping, in­clud­ing a John Lewis, a re­fur­bished sta­tion and an Ev­ery­man Cin­ema. The new Clock Tower re­tail park, on the Britvic fac­tory site, will have an M&S food hall (but no Waitrose – yet).

Chelms­ford has long been pop­u­lar with as­pi­ra­tional fam­i­lies, thanks to its ex­cel­lent schools; the range in­cludes out­stand­ing state schools, in­de­pen­dent preps, and gram­mars such as King Ed­ward VI and Chelms­ford County High School for Girls.

De­tached houses make up one third of the city’s hous­ing stock, with the av­er­age price across the board around

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