Focus on... Stratford: Stratford’s racing to the finish line

EVERYONE knows that the Olympic Games were held in Stratford, east London, nearly two years ago, but few people know it for much else. It’s true that, since the opening of Westfield Stratford City, millions of people go there to shop – but how many are looking to live there?

Despite the pre-Olympics hype, house prices failed to shoot up after the Games and they have largely increased in line with the Greater London average. They grew 2.5 per cent in the last 12 months, according to Hamptons International, and properties typically command £320 per sqft. This is second hand housing stock, of course, as the newer high rises, such as Stratford Central which launched yesterday and Glasshouse Gardens, due to be finished in 2016.

“I think there’s a bit of a branding issue when it comes to Stratford,” says Nick Parr, from Knight Frank’s City and East office. “There’s a definite divide between old Stratford E15 and new Stratford E20. The Olympic Park needs to get away from the Olympic Games and start to be seen as a community where people live.

“It’s such a fantastic piece of infrastructure, it’s seriously impressive, and I think people need to talk about that just as much as the transport. People will move to live overlooking a park, but they won’t move to live next to a shopping centre. If you look at the nearest equivalent, Victoria Park, those houses are going for £1.25m and the most expensive in the Olympic Park are going for £800,000, so there’s still a long way to go.”

It’s on two underground lines, the DLR, the London Overground, a number of National Rail lines, a bullet train that takes you to King’s Cross in seven minutes, and it’s soon to be graced by Crossrail.

More and more workers are set to commute to Stratford in the coming years too with the Olympic Park’s Media City set to create 6,000 jobs and The International Quarter – which has just coaxed the Financial Conduct Authority over – is the biggest new commercial development in London at four million sqft.

It seems all Stratford needs are people to believe in it enough to move in and the sky’s the limit.

6 REASONS TO MOVE TO THE AREA

1 The transport infrastructure is pretty impressive. Stratford is on the Central Line, the Jubilee Line, the Docklands Light Railway, the London Overground and a number of national rail lines.

2 The Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park is one of the biggest parks in London and its on your doorstep. At 560 acres, the park is part of four London boroughs and its Stadium will be West Ham United’s home.

3 Now the Olympic Games have gone, the area can take advantage of the world class sporting facilities; go swimming at the Aquatics Centre, cycle at the Velodrome or visit the basketball arena.

4 It’s a shopaholic’s paradise. Westfield Stratford City is the biggest indoor shopping centre in Europe, and the 70s-style Stratford Centre has a certain charm, with a daily indoor and outdoor market.

5 Discover local gems like authentic Italian restaurant Cafe Mondo, Grade-II listed pub The King Eddie, the East London Film Festival at Stratford Picturehouse, and community theatre Stratford Circus.

6 The Theatre Royal Stratford East hosts touring companies and original plays. It has just hosted a 50th anniversary production of “Oh What A Lovely War” and it won an Olivier Award last year.