Budget 2016: Crossrail 2 could level the playing field when it comes to London's house prices and office rents

Peter Burns
Seaside See-Saw
As commuter times reduce across the city, house prices should level out (Source: Getty)

London is growing at an astronomical rate.

Every week, more than two Tube-loads of people move into the capital and while the city’s transport infrastructure is a well-oiled machine, if we fail to invest in major projects, we run the risk of the network grinding to a halt.

Set to be announced as part of tomorrow's Budget, Crossrail 2 is critical to future-proofing London, and if it launches as planned in 2033, swathes of the city will be opened up to regeneration, new development and growth, better catering for a forecast population of 10 million people.

This proposed north-south rail link offers more than just another commuter route for Londoners, which appears to be needed if recent reports around TfL comments on Victoria Station are to be believed.

The new line will allow workers to commute into central London more quickly and easily from outside the city. It will also boost housebuilding and employment.

In July 2015, the Crossrail 2 Growth Commission was set up to analyse the number of jobs and homes Crossrail 2 could create. Their study showed that a staggering 200,000 homes and 200,000 jobs could be generated from the project.

Crossrail, now rebranded the Elizabeth Line, has already served as a catalyst for significant new commercial development around Tottenham Court Road and Farringdon, attracting new occupiers and producing a significant uplift in rental values over and above those achieved in the wider market.

Prime Fitzrovia rents, representative of Tottenham Court Road, grew 94 per cent between the final quarter of 2009 and the final quarter of 2015, while Farringdon saw rental values rise by as much as 132 per cent over this same period. This is against an average prime Central London rental growth of 56 per cent.

Crossrail 2 is reaching a critical stage. As George Osborne delivers greater certainty around the plans, we’ll likely soon see a value uplift in the areas set to benefit most, growing further when construction, and finally services, actually start.

The new line will allow retailers, residents and businesses to be much more flexible, giving them increased options for where they choose to lay their roots. This will, in turn, introduce greater competition for the capital and allow local boroughs to set their own development plans with more confidence.

As commuter times across the city reduce, we’ll likely also see a levelling out of values, as hard to reach locations are brought closer to the core. In turn, this will relieve pressure on the centre of the city and allow for further development across the capital.

A new train line can’t possibly please everyone. Inevitably, homes and offices will be displaced and anyone badly affected should be adequately compensated.

But, the development of transport links and infrastructure is absolutely essential to the growth of a city, and when the city in question happens to be one of the world’s financial hubs, the need is all the greater.

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