By now about every Londoner’s heard of the Crossrail whether or not it’ll have a daily impact on their journeys. Recently renamed as Elizabeth Line, and playfully nicknamed as the Lizzie Line, the connection is set to radically transform transportation to and from Woolwich and its up-the-hill neighbour Plumstead.
Promising frequent and efficient services, the Elizabeth Line is expected to connect Woolwich to Canary Wharf in 8 minutes, Liverpool Street in 14 minutes, Tottenham Court Road in 19 minutes, Bond Street in 22 minutes, Paddington in 25 minutes and the Heathrow Airport in 50 minutes. Other key stations along the direct route include Whitechapel and Farringdon, meaning that on top of a quick connection to Central London (Soho, Fitzrovia), East London (Shoreditch, Bethnal Green) will be easily accessible from Woolwich.
Simply put, once the line opens in late 2018, Woolwich will be the best connected area in South East London, additionally providing DLR connections to Bank and Stratford, mainline train services to London Bridge, Waterloo East, Charing Cross and Cannon Street and bus connections across South London as well as the Thames Clipper for a more scenic route along the river from Woolwich Arsenal all the way to the London Eye in the Southbank.
HOUSING & PROPERTY PRICES
The excitement surrounding the arrival of the Elizabeth Line in SE18 is palpable and has thrust the area into a greater limelight. According to a number of property analysts, the positive impact of the Woolwich Crossrail station on house prices will be one of the most considerable across the whole rail development. In a recent article City AM stated that 2016 is the year Woolwich arrives on the property scene, calling it ‘tomorrow’s town’, and Evening Standard went a step further by putting an actual figure on it and forecasting a 46% rise in property values by 2018.
While Woolwich Arsenal riverside has already been feeling the heat for a while and house prices within the development have risen accordingly, the nearby leafy Plumstead is yet to see a property price hike.
In fact, Plumstead often features as one of the last affordable places to buy or rent in London, offering realistic options for first-time buyers as well as those needing more space. However, as the 2018 launch of the Elizabeth Line gets closer, this is bound to change rapidly as more people discover the area.
The tree-lined streets near Plumstead Common with their Victorian and Edwardian housing stock is the most likely spot of real estate to benefit first from the increased interest in the area. The green spaces and amenities are a draw as is the proximity to Woolwich town centre and the upcoming Crossrail station, particularly for the area north of the common.
Going further afield to Winn’s Common may be too far to benefit as much directly from the Crossrail impact but the streets near the common are pretty, the housing stock good and substantially undervalued, suggesting that the ripple effect from the various developments in Woolwich town centre will reach there too.
In spite of its impressive military history, for a long time Woolwich had a less-than-favourable reputation for being rundown and undesirable. Plumstead fared a little better, existing largely in obscurity except for the curious claim to fame for having the largest Nepalese community in London.
Inevitably, the speed at which the Royal Arsenal riverside is changing the local landscape has led to a division between the development and the rest of SE18. A lot of money and infrastructure is being pumped into the Arsenal, and the high end condos and period building conversions are likely to attract affluent city workers who seek to benefit from the quick commute to Canary Wharf and Central London.
Outside the Royal Arsenal development there are a great number of building and community projects underway but the evolution of the area is more organic – and quite likely more interesting. The mix of affordable Victorian and Edwardian housing stock in Plumstead and warehouse studio units in Woolwich Dockyards are already attracting a younger demographic, those working in the creative industries as well as independent business.
The SE18 community is also well-represented in social media, actively engaging with developments regarding local culture, politics and planning.
ENTERTAINMENT & CULTURE
The impact of the regeneration is already evident in the emerging foodie scene in SE18: First, the hipster pub chain Antic turned the old Woolwich Equitable building society in the Woolwich town centre into a popular gastropub with live gigs, stand-up and DJ nights. Within the Royal Arsenal development R|A|R|E farmers’ market was launched followed by the opening of two pubs in the form of the Taproom and The Guardhouse. The Plumstead Pantry, a hugely popular cafe-restaurant, found a permanent home by Plumstead Common and various rumours are circling regarding further openings in the near future.
On the culture front, The Royal Borough of Greenwich has ambitious plans for the area to become an international arts hub and work is underway to launch the Woolwich Cultural Quarter in 2017. Further west past Woolwich Dockyard, Thames-Side Studios already boasts London’s largest single site studio space for artists, designers, print and craft makers with regular exhibitions open to the general public. The first Charlton & Woolwich Free Film Festival will be held from the 9th to the17th of September 2016.
IN A NUTSHELL
The arrival of Crossrail is bound to have a significant impact across London but in SE18 the Crossrail effect will be particularly profound. This is due to the coinciding large-scale development of the area, the affordability of housing and the changing local demographic. The most significant changes are expected to happen within the next 3-5 years.