It’s the railway construction project that has certainly kept us waiting with baited breath. Since Crossrail was announced in 2007, there’s been a decade and a half of anticipation, with work falling behind schedule several times and also costing much more than anticipated. The initial budget was £14.8 billion but the bill now stands at £18.8 billion. Though it was originally due to open in 2018, it was only in May 2022 that the first section started to operate; this is the Abbey Wood to Paddington stretch of the Elizabeth Line (named in recognition of the platinum jubilee). And while there are losers in the Crossrail project – people who’ve suffered forced rehousing, construction workers who’ve died of heart attacks because of undertaking such labour-intensive jobs – there’s also no shortage of winners, not just those whose daily commutes have been made quicker and simpler by the existence of the new line, but also those whose homes are located in key spots along the new line. Let’s take a closer look at the knock-on effect of Crossrail on the housing market:
What Effect Has Crossrail Had on Property Prices?
When the first stretch of the Elizabeth Line opened in May 2022, there was a rush of happy passengers eager to check it out, many of them thrilled to discover how much more quickly they could go from A to B thank to the new routes. But, for others, there were benefits for which they didn’t even have to sit upright let alone leave home. That’s because several areas have experienced astonishing property price growth thanks to their proximity to an Elizabeth Line station. And the increases in house-price value, as researched by Hamptons, are far from minimal; several are in excess of 100 per cent. Take into account that, during the same period, prices in Middlesbrough have grown by only 6.2% and you can get a better impression of how impressive that level of growth is. Even a sought-after, commuter-land haven like Hastings has grown by a comparatively low 89.7 per cent in the same time period. The Elizabeth Line has had a truly transformative effect on the areas it passes through.
Which Areas Have Benefitted From Crossrail?
Some Londoners won’t have even heard of quiet, unremarkable suburb, Abbey Wood. It’s in south east London, near Greenwich and Bexley. Though some years ago it did benefit from a DLR station, it’s Crossrail that’s really put it on the map. In a ten-year period, average Abbey Wood house prices have gone from a little over £175,000 to more than £362,000. Anyone with the foresight to have bought there back when Crossrail was only just starting to be built will have done very well indeed, with a jump of over 100% in the value of their home.
Then there’s Forest Gate in east London, which lies within Newham borough. Forest Gate only became part of London in 1965, having fallen within the bounds of Essex up until that point. Now, however, it’s time to shine is here, with average property prices jumping by over 100 per cent, to over £445,000.
Sitting next to Forest Gate is the area of Manor Park, also in Newham. Like Forest Gate, it used to fall within Essex and, like its neighbour, it’s enjoyed a ten-year growth spurt taking property prices up by 97 per cent, averaging out at over £480,000.
Why Has Crossrail Increased House Prices so Much?
It’s not simply the case that a train station improves an area’s house prices (though there is, of course, some truth in that). Crossrail has done more than that, linking neighbourhoods across the capital that were once considered difficult to get to or insufficiently connected. It has made it easier for people to get into the centre of London quickly. The three areas to benefit the most so far have also done well precisely because, of all the areas with a new Crossrail connection, they were the most affordable a decade ago. Anyone with an eye on the market would have recognised the investment potential back then and made their move. As you’d expect, the Crossrail locations which have seen the lowest property price growth were the ones that were the most expensive to begin with. So, for example, growth in Canary Wharf has been 62 per cent and in Acton 59 per cent. In Ealing, it’s 58 per cent. All three areas were more expensive than other Crossrail locations back when the Crossrail plans were first drawn up.
Which Other Areas are Doing Well Thanks to Crossrail?
Central areas, with prices already at the top end of the scale, have certainly not gone unaffected by the presence of a Crossrail station. London W1 (where there are two Crossrail stations – Tottenham Court Road and Bond Street) have enjoyed a 79 per cent hike. Further out, Woolwich, Goodmayes, Seven Kings, Romford and Twyford have also done well. In fact, research reported by Bentham and Reeves shows that properties near Crossrail stations are, on average, 14 per cent more valuable than properties in the same area that are too far from the stations to experience the Crossrail boost. Indeed, properties near Bond Street average out at 121 per cent higher than the average property price in surrounding Westminster.
Who are the Crossrail Losers?
In all the jubilation over the property value increases, it’s easy to forget those who haven’t done so well out of the situation – not just the people who died from the stress of building the new line, but also future renters and first-time buyers. As yet more patches of London experience stunning growth, it’ll be harder than ever for people contending with elevated rent and a market that makes owning prohibitively difficult. It’s trebles all round for those who bought in Abbey Wood, Forest Gate and Manor Park back between 2007 and 2012, coining it in thanks to making a timely, informed choice about where to buy. But for others it means three more areas crossed off their list of affordable places to rent in the city. Even further out, at the western end of the line, rents have increased due to Crossrail. So for example, according to Rightmove, in Slough it’s an average of 44 per cent more expensive to rent and in Burnham, 43 per cent. And the doubling of property prices in some Crossrail areas means that owning there – once feasible for many – is now ever more unlikely.