Over the last few decades the UK's transport infrastructure has become increasingly overburdened, with fast increasing usage but few really major improvements being made. However, all this is about to change in London, at least where several substantial new schemes are now under construction, and many others are likely to proceed over the next few years. In this report we will round up the main schemes and look at their effect on the property market, plus try to identify any new opportunities for investors.
Firstly, Crossrail - which is the biggest transport project in Europe let alone the UK. Crossrail will link Berkshire and Heathrow Airport in the west through central London to Essex and Kent in the east, solving the current 'connectivity gap' where most rail services terminate on the edge of central London. It will have six stations in central London and 33 in the suburbs and fringes of London. At present Crossrail is expected to open between Paddington and Abbey Wood in December 2018, between Paddington and Shenfield in May 2019, and become fully operational with services out to Heathrow and Reading in December 2019.
From a property standpoint it's important to note that Crossrail will not serve any locations that do not already have a rail connection. Rather it will improve capacity and journey times across London, perhaps making some destinations more attractive for commuting or business relocation. Crossrail Ltd. estimate the line will bring 1.5m more people within 45 minutes commuting time (to most commuters their ideal maximum) of London's main business districts.
Over the last few years there have been numerous projections of how Crossrail might affect London property prices. Knight Frank have been following the issue since 2008 and their latest figures (2015) suggest that property prices within 10-15 minutes walking time
from Crossrail stations have outperformed the underlying rates of growth in the local market by a modest 5% on average. They point out, however, it is impossible to generalise as prices near some stations have outperformed the local area significantly while in others they have lagged the local area. They suggest that impact on property prices has been most consistent near the central London stations rather than the east and west sections. They forecast that residential prices in and around most Crossrail stations will outperform local markets between now and 2018, and that the areas which have lagged behind up until now may offer significant opportunities for further price uplifts.