Opinion by Jason Arden
As early as 2016, The Guardian reported that the property market in Walthamstow was worth £680M, some £62M ahead of Pimlico in terms of total market value. The Guardian also reported that in 2015, ‘the number of property millionaires in Waltham Forest… grew 56% as the number of homes worth £1M or more hit 1,330’.
Fast forward to 2021. The Sunday Times listed Walthamstow as one of London’s six best places to live. Assessed criteria included ‘local air quality, transport links, green spaces, high streets and community spirit’, alongside the quality of local restaurants and schools.
In 2022, TimeOut reported ‘1300 new jobs’, ‘5000 square metres new retail space’, ‘£200M of private investment’. All coming to Walthamstow. And to cap it all off, in May this year The Telegraph listed the top 15, ‘Britain’s coolest neighbourhoods’. The number one spot? Walthamstow.
So why now?
Why is it that Walthamstow is now the up-and-comer, the coolest place? Walthamstow has always been special to me. The people are friendly. It has top green spaces. It’s popular with young people. It has that special East London-ness. It’s difficult to describe but any East Londoner will tell you about it. There’s an edge as well. There are lots of trendy places around but they don’t have that East London edge. To my mind, East London hasn’t changed. What’s changed is what’s cool. The key things for property investment is staying ahead, staying on top. And within property, as within many things, cool is King.
Backing Walthamstow, for us, is about more than trying to stay ahead. It’s about who we are. We’re Eastbank and we’re East London. It’s a combination of our established personality and at the same time, a desire to keep in step and move with the times.
How do we do this?
Sustainable development. Local community. Personal relationships. Our attitude to sustainability is one of the things that is sure to define this generation of property development. Walthamstow, sustainability. To us they run as a pair.
In May 2021, MyLondon reported an increase in the average house price in Walthamstow from £230,888 (2011) to £499,534 (2021). That’s an increase of 103%, outstripping the rest of the country by a factor of 2.4 (average UK house price Q1 2011 to Q1 2021 increased by 43%, data here). The MyLondon report featured reference to the Walthamstow Wetlands Nature Reserve, a ‘pedestrianised zone on the village high street’, and ‘the longest outdoor market in Europe’. Economic value. Environmental value. Now more than ever they go hand in hand.
Sustainability has hit the mainstream and Walthamstow is made to measure. The conservation area, the green spaces (see here), and pedestrianisation. As developers, we must work to preserve these things. We have a responsibility to preserve Walthamstow. To preserve the thing that makes Walthamstow so cool and such an attractive place for property development and investment. To preserve that East London edge. At Eastbank we think we are best placed to lead these developments. Protect our natural environment, develop our urban environment, establish the relationship between the two foremost.
As property developers, we are looking to build a society. The key values within a society are reflected in its architecture. The things people value are right there in its buildings. Throughout history, the tallest, most impressive, most expensive buildings have reflected what that society valued most and exemplified their key technology, their areas of progress. What is it that we value most? Take a look at our buildings and that should provide some clue.
As values within a society change, the buildings must also change. This begins with the developer. Processes of urban renewal, economic rejuvenation, reevaluation. A development must be practical, that’s foremost. This depends on use. But a building must also be practical in other ways. Practical in terms of cost. Practical in terms of value.
A development has more than one type of investor. An economic investor. A social investor. The best developments are those that all people can invest in. By supporting the project, helping the project at different stages of development, and making use of it after completion. And the best developments are those that consider all costs – environmental, social, economic, the cost to the local community – to ensure that the development gives to the local area in an amount much larger than the amount it takes away. These are the types of development we hope to champion at Eastbank and these are the types of development I hope to see around Walthamstow.
To talk property, development and all things East London, send me an email.