But that’s exactly what happened this month when Mayor of London Sadiq Khan approved “one of the largest and most ambitious regeneration schemes in Europe” on the north bank of the Thames.
Barking Riverside, as it’ll be known, will see 10,000 new homes built on the largest brownfield site in London. Part-owned by the GLA and housing association L&Q, it was home to three power stations and an awful lot of landfill in the 1990s.
Now, it’s being billed as “Barcelona-on-Thames”, set to benefit from a new train station and a £263m extension to the London Overground.
Khan also sees Barking Riverside as an opportunity to deliver on his election pledge of truly affordable housing. Initially, 35 per cent of the scheme will come under this banner, but his office hopes to get this up to 50 per cent following “additional investment and viability reviews.”
Barking’s brighter future has led to many estate agents predicting impressive growth forecasts in the long term. Online agent eMoov.co.uk singled the borough out as “the best bet for getting on the ladder... if you aspire to live in the capital by 2030” with the lowest average house price in London.
Its House Price of the Future report continues, “Come 2030, the definition of affordable is somewhat different to today, as the average property in Barking will cost you over £450,000, compared with £246,000 today.”
Anne Currell, CEO of London agent Currell, also expects property prices to outperform “in undervalued east London boroughs such as Newham and Barking & Dagenham... especially in the east.”
It’s a far cry from its humble beginnings as an Essex outpost for Eastenders; everything changed when it became a part of London in 1965.
“Once part of the Capital, it quickly became one of its fastest growing suburbs,” says David Fell, research analyst at Hamptons International. “Streets of semis built either side of the Second World War sprung up and are popular with families buying their first home today. Barking attracts large numbers of first time buyers, over half of homes sold in the last year were to someone buying for the first time.”
Who thought there’d be a National Trust manor house on the outskirts of East London? In fact, many weddings take place at Eastbury Manor House, a Grade I Listed Tudor house. The ruins of a 7th century monastery, Barking Abbey, also stand in the borough. More modern pleasures can be found at Broadway Theatre, relaxed and rustic Christina’s Steakhouse and Capital Karts, the UK’s largest indoor go-karting track.
House prices Source: Zoopla
Transport Source: TfL
Time to Canary Wharf – 21 mins
Time to Liverpool Street – 22 mins
Nearest train station: Barking
Best Roads Source: Hamptons International
Most Expensive – Beccles Drive – £414,088
Best Value – Stern Close – £180,867