With rents notoriously high, and less and less affordable being built, in favour of burgeoning luxury developments, it’s becoming increasingly clear that something in London has to change. The cycles of cheap areas attracting creative tenants and characterful businesses, which in turn attract higher rents and prices, and a wave of gentrification pushing out the very artists and entrepreneurs that made the area desirable has only sped up. On top of this, venues and shops that have been open for decades have been hit by rent increases and hostility from local councils, leading to closures that have leached a bit of individuality from areas of the city, from the loss of French’s Theatre Bookshop near Warren Street to closing live music venues throughout Camden and Soho that threaten to eliminate the very reason people value those parts of London!
If this continues the market will overbalance, with inflated prices chasing off the very qualities that make London a desirable place to live. With rents continuing to go up and wage increases failing to keep pace, people are looking outside London for the luxury of space, reasonable rents and a lower pressure lifestyle, even if they have to submit to longer commute to make their new home work for them. One of the side effects is a proliferation of ‘Why I’m Leaving London’ articles across newspapers, magazines and websites.
Change is coming, however. The HS2 rail network, and the Crossrail project both promise to open up new ‘commutable’ areas, both locally and across the country. HS2 will, it is planned, bring Birmingham and Manchester within commutable reach of London, opening life in these cities to people who are unable to let go of jobs in the capital.
In the city itself Crossrail, or the so-called Elizabeth line, is opening up areas like Aldgate and Custom House for commuters looking to work in the centre of town, while work on the extension to the Northern Line is making Nine Elms the newest part of South London to bring in flocks of developers and investors.
In an ideal world, this will relieve the pressure on the London housing market and lead to more reasonable rents across the board. There are worries, many of them well founded, that demand will simply lead to more and more expensive prices in these new areas as they become more desirable, chasing out long term residents once again.
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