woolwich a great place to buy
Berkeley Homes’ Royal Arsenal Riverside development is the perfect location for a new home, says sales director Lyndon Nunn
Where to put all that cash? Bricks and mortar have lost none of their appeal as a long-term vehicle for investment and London, despite recent market wobbles and the uncertainty of Brexit, remains an attractive option.
A world city with unparalleled lifestyle facilities, it stands above other European capitals due to the depth of its business and cultural heritage. But where in London to invest? Berkeley Homes East and West Thames sales director Lyndon Nunn makes a compelling case for Woolwich.
Sometimes overlooked, this corner of south-east London on the banks of the Thames has undergone significant change in recent years. And there’s more in the pipeline. “This is one of the biggest regeneration schemes in Europe,” said Lyndon. “We’ll have just under 5,000 homes by the time we’re complete. Today we’re only just over half of the way through. We’ve built just over 3,000 homes now so we’ve still got a long way left to go. “What’s important to set out is how things have moved on site as we’ve gone through those years. “We’ve been selling for about 13 years now. We started off price-wise at under £200,000 for a one-bed. “Here’s an example – I’ve been at the company for seven years and when I joined, we were selling a block called Warehouse Court, which is in the middle part of the site. In 2011, we were selling a one-bedroom property there for £200,000 and a two-bed for about £280,000. “We’ve just completed a block directly opposite. It’s in the same location, although the specification is slightly higher and it has the use of the spa whereas the other block doesn’t. “The prices we’ve achieved in that are more than double what people paid in Warehouse Court. I think that’s a good way to encapsulate what’s happened.” With a great deal of development to come, Lyndon said Berkeley’s approach to such large regeneration projects helped mitigate the ups and downs of the property market.
“We have another 13 years left to go,” he said. “It’s impossible to say what will happen to the market in that time but what we’ve proved on some of our larger schemes is we can activate the market and make the place better, making it more resilient to market changes. “So what’s not here today? “Crossrail isn’t and that will have a positive impact when it opens.
“When people start using the Elizabeth line there will be more people who want to move here whether they rent or buy. There’s going to be more demand.
“Another addition that will come is our cultural district, which is a series of four buildings that are owned and will be run by the Royal Borough of Greenwich.
“They will be activated for cultural use with the likes of a 450-seat theatre, studios, dance and acting space, which, when combined, will be the size of the South Bank.
“Residents will have an arts centre on their doorstep.
“There’s already a burgeoning arts scene here with the likes of the Woolwich Contemporary Print Fair that’s held here every year and that seems to be growing and growing.
“A lot of our customers, especially with the higher-end units, are interested in that side of what this has to offer. By the time it fully opens, that completely changes this place to being a destination.
“While it’s great now, that demand, that expectation, will be greater both nationally and internationally. It will have a positive impact on growth and investment, and will bring a completely different and wider clientele to this site.
Locally you also have things like ABP London in Royal Docks, which will bring investment to this area.
“We have a lot of customers who work in that area but live in Woolwich. It is also comparatively affordable. We’re finding we’re pulling people in who would have considered Canary Wharf and are now looking here.
“It’s a great place. It’s almost a microclimate – if you don’t want to go outside the development, you don’t have to as it has everything on the doorstep.”
Even without those future attractions, Royal Arsenal Riverside is very well connected via the Overground, the DLR (including an easy journey to London City Airport) and the MBNA Thames Clippers via a dedicated pier.
That contributes to a stable constituency of rental tenants, with decent returns for owners.
“Rents have started climbing again with the release of the new blocks recently and the opening of the spa,” said Lyndon.
“There are a lot of things there that we are in control of and counteract what the market is doing by making things better. “We have a life cycle of tenants. “What happens over time is we’ll have different segments of tenants living in each block. A lot of them are high-earning people who choose to rent rather than buy, perhaps because they’re transient.
I think people are surprised when they come to the development. There’s no substitute for seeing it in the flesh. Woolwich is changing a lot. Lyndon Nunn, Berkeley Homes East & West Thames sales director
“They’ll work in Canary Wharf, for example, but they’ll choose to rent here.
“When we open a new block, that customer says: ‘Right, I love living here, but I want the new block and I’m willing to pay more money for it’.
“That person moves and when that happens there’s kind of a cascade of other tenants that move up as well.
“Then at the entry level, someone from outside the scheme comes in and rents. When you look at the availability on-site there’s not a lot to rent even though we’ve built 3,000 homes.
“Occupancy is nearly 100% – we are selling to investors but those properties are being rented out and used as a place to live. We really don’t see many homes left empty at all.”
Beyond the development, Lyndon said the town itself was becoming more attractive too.
“I think people are surprised when they come to the development,” he said. “There’s no substitute for seeing it in the flesh. Woolwich is changing a lot. If you think of the amount of investment going on in the town centre, it’s massive. That’s been accelerated by what we’ve already done.
“There’s more companies, more building going on commercially and residentially which can only be good for the area.
“For example, Street Feast set up in the old Woolwich Market, which is fantastic and you’ve got the blue chip companies such as Marks and Spencer, Barclays and Sainsbury’s here.
“At Royal Arsenal Riverside, we have everything from a studio at £328,000 through to a £2 million penthouse. We build multiple phases at the same time to enable ourselves to appeal to a completely diverse customer base.
“The site has a nice buzz to it. People are friendly, it’s so nice when you walk through. You can feel that place element. And the message is there’s still growth here.
“There are a large number of reasons to buy now, irrespective of what the market is doing.”
Currently on sale are Waterfront, with homes starting at £410,000 for a studio and £485,000 for a one-bed, available with Help To Buy, and Pavilion Square with properties starting at £320,000 including Berkeley’s discount market sale initiative of 20% off.
Homes at the Waterfront development start at £410,000