What is the appeal of Havering for homebuyers? Susan Hill looks at the diverse range of properties in a borough with good connections to central London, and finds a council with an innovative approach to fulfil its housing objectives.
With its diverse range of housing, bustling town centres, beautiful parkland, and fantastic transport connections, it's easy to understand why the London Borough of Havering has seen a substantial increase in house prices.
While the London housing market is at its slowest in five years, Land Registry figures show that house prices in Havering rose by 11.8% year-on-year to February 2017.
And the borough is set for a major housebuilding project in the coming years in the development area of Rainham and Beam Parkway. Designated as a housing zone by the Greater London Authority (GLA) in 2016 – one of 30 in London – this part of Havering has been allocated funding through the London mayor's scheme to ensure the desired number of homes are built.
The value of investment and development in this area represents £1 billion, including an indicative allocation from the GLA of £31 million. The housing zone is set over 513ha and 3,457 homes are planned, 1,099 of which are earmarked as affordable. Havering Council is seeking joint venture partnerships for different sites in the area, particularly along the A1306.
An outer London borough with such a major planned housebuilding programme needs good connections to the capital and beyond. And with Crossrail set to connect Romford, Gidea Park and Harold Wood with improved frequency to central London and Heathrow Airport, the area looks set to become even more of a popular choice.
The borough already has direct train lines into Fenchurch Street and Liverpool Street stations but according to Terry Holmes, a director at Beresford estate agents, which has been in Havering since 1968, the Elizabeth line opens up even more opportunities with its new link to the West End.
He says: "We already have one of the most direct links into the City of London and Canary Wharf, but with the 'Lizzy line' which we are all fondly calling it, you'll be able to commute straight into the West End.
"This opens up huge possibilities for people wanting to move out to Havering but work in the west end or even to the west of London. With the new line you'll be able to get on at Gidea Park and get off at Bond Street in under 40 minutes."
Havering Council cabinet members have approved plans to carry out work on improving the borough's air quality between 2018 and 2023.