Where to live on Crossrail: guide to the Forest Gate area

M

ini markets, junk food and betting shops. If you are looking for a chi-chi village in London, Forest Gate is not for you.

Crossrail was supposed to spark a swathe of regeneration across London, but a decade after work on the line began, Upton Lane, the area’s de facto main street, still looks pretty derelict.

The reason to consider Forest Gate is that what it certainly offers are good value period houses and apartments. It’s what brought Jennifer Earle, 40, and her husband Sam, 38, to the area in 2015 when they swapped a flat in Wandsworth for a £725,000 four-bedroom house in Forest Gate.

Since then, Jennifer, who runs food and chocolate tours, and Sam, who works in software, have had a daughter, Maya, two, and have started renovating their dilapidated home.

Jennifer Earle, Forest Gate resident

/ Jennifer Earle

The property is still under construction, but they’ve rebuilt its shabby extension, installed a new kitchen and bathroom, and converted the garage into a fifth bedroom.

“I think we could probably sell it for a little more than we spent,” says Jennifer.

She agrees that Forest Gate south of the station has changed little since her arrival.

Crossrail journey time from Forest Gate

To Tottenham Court Road: 29 minutes

To Paddington: 34 minutes

To Heathrow: 70 minutes

Times include extra time for interchanges at Liverpool Street (10 minutes) and Paddington (8 minutes) which will be required until May 2023

“It’s pretty dirty,” she said. But to the north you’ll find local gems like Burgess & Hall Wines, Ramble Café and Tracks, a café/bar/record store that hosts live events, from poetry readings to pop-up markets.

For green space, there’s Wanstead Flats, and you can hang out in the Forest Tavern garden on sunny days. If you have a green thumb, Forest Gate Community Garden brings together like-minded volunteers.

Woodgrange Market, with its street food, crafts and vintage clothing, is well worth a visit on a Saturday, and every summer locals come together to hold the Forest Gate Festival.

Wanstead Apartments

/ Daniel Lynch

“There are a lot of great community things happening,” says Jennifer. “There is a jumble trail and an art trail, and the atmosphere is very friendly.”

Jake Everett, office manager at estate agent Wilkinson, says two things have put Forest Gate on the buyers’ map: Crossrail and the Olympics. “The prices just skyrocketed,” he says.

“Then in 2018 and 2019, there was a bit of a slowdown, because of the delays in opening the line, and the pandemic. But since the stamp duty holiday, everything has gone crazy again.

House prices in Forest Gate have risen 3.4% over the past two years. Everett estimates buyers should budget around £750,000 for a three-bedroom terrace or around £400,000-450,000 for a two-bedroom apartment.

The rental market tends to be more local than the buy-to-let market, with two-bedroom apartments typically priced at £1,300 pcm, he says.

The future

There have been no major regeneration projects at Forest Gate, and there is nothing major on the horizon – likely due to a lack of major projects.

However, there have been a series of smaller boutique developments, the latest being a four-storey infill project with apartments and shops on Woodgrange Road – work is due to start on the site later this year.

And the Winchelsea Road railway arches have just been transformed into a flexible workspace for local businesses.

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