Whitechapel or Aldgate? Whatever you call this area on the cusp of the City, it’s always been a dividing line between the bankers and proper East Enders. But that line is getting thinner and thinner every day.
Skyscrapers now pierce the eastern sky from every angle, and the amount of development undergone in recent years means half of all residential sales last year were new builds that hadn’t existed five years before.
All the big developers have flocked here in recent years; Barratt London is building 463 new homes at Aldgate Place; Telford Homes has a 12-storey block of flats called Cityscape on Commercial Street; and, biggest of all, Berkeley Group is building 1,000 new homes, including a new gastropub, Curzon cinema, boxing gym and cafes at Goodman’s Fields on Leman Street.
So why are they all suddenly attracted to E1? David Fell, research analyst for Hamptons International estate agents, has a theory. “The last few years it has started to forge a new identity as a tech hub, with older office space increasingly filled by start-ups, which five years ago would have chosen Old Street over Aldgate,” he explains.
Dishes at popular Thai restaurant Som Saa
“The arrival of Grade A office space tempted a number of blue chip companies out of the City and has caught the attention of the country’s largest housebuilders. A mini-Manhattan has rapidly risen around Aldgate East, built to tempt bankers from their favourite west London haunts.” And it may have worked. House prices have risen by 39 per cent in the last five years, according to Hamptons’ data, with the average house price sitting around £730,000. The most expensive sale wasn’t a shiny penthouse, but Victorian terrace on Princelet Street, which went for £4.42m in 2017.
The shiny new towers persevere, however, and “have a huge effect in terms of increasing the average price per square foot here,” says James Turner at nearby Dexters Clerkenwell. His colleague on the lettings side, Tommy Shepherd says it’s now a popular location for City or Canary Wharf professionals, too. “A lot of tenants here are corporates who have been relocated with their employer from overseas, working here on short or long-term assignments.”
Expect rents in the new buildings to be around £650-£750 a week and older stock to sit around £500-£600 a week.
Investors aren’t only banking on business being good, they’re betting on new infrastructure, namely Crossrail, to bring in the future dough. Rebecca Little, who’s tasked with selling homes at London Square Spitalfields, says with two Tubes and Crossrail, “the location is hard to beat for convenience” and will appeal “to a wide range of buyers” once completed.
This is all speculation, however. Hamptons data also suggests that house price growth has stalled – only 0.1 per cent last year – and the number of seven-figure sales has fallen from 38 to 12 from 2016 to 2017. But with new tech firms continuing to be pushed out of Shoreditch by high rents, the sky’s the limit for the shiny towers of E1.
The Tower of London needs no introduction. If you lived in Aldgate, though, you’d be so close to the probably haunted UNESCO World Heritage site, you could stick your head out of a window and whistle for a raven. If the Kingdom falls, it’s all on you. If you’re a wall enthusiast like Donald Trump, you’re likely to pass the original Roman wall that marked the boundaries of ancient Londinium on your walk to work. Some of the area’s more modern delights include The Whitechapel Gallery, which has been displaying contemporary art and retrospectives for public consumption since 1901. Picasso’s Guernica was displayed here as part of a tour in 1938 and it was also the venue that introduced Mexican painter Frida Kahlo to a London audience. Up near Spitalfields, Som Saa is a critically-acclaimed, crowd-funded Thai restaurant situated in an old fabric warehouse. For an afternoon at the flicks, boutique cinema franchise Curzon has opened up in the polished confines of Goodman’s Fields on Leman Street alongside a new gastropub, Leman Street Tavern.
House prices Source: Zoopla
Transport Source: TfL
Time to Canary Wharf: 25 mins
Time to Liverpool Street: 1 min
Nearest train station: Aldgate
Best roadsSource: Hamptons International
Most Expensive – Princelet Street – £2,857,500
Best Value – Goulston Street – £388,750