Now that first-time buyers don’t have to pay stamp duty on homes valued up to £300,000, an unexpected spotlight has fallen on Hounslow, one of the few places left in London with homes that qualify for stamp duty exemption.
It’s an ideal place to find a starter home — if you can tolerate aircraft noise. It’s a Heathrow flight path and the airport is four miles away.
Thanks to all those planes, Hounslow, on the Piccadilly line, has been a Cinderella neighbourhood for years. Now its fortunes are set to change thanks to a major regeneration programme.
At the moment, if you love Poundland and TK Maxx you’ll easily feel at home in Hounslow. You have to head for Richmond, three miles east, to find decent shopping, café culture and nightlife, though even there you won’t escape planes.
To compensate for Hounslow’s lack of glamour you can find a two-bedroom flat for just under £300,000, a modest house for about £330,000, while between now and 2025 some 3,900 new homes will be built, 40 percent of which will be aimed at first-time buyers and young renters.
HOMES, SHOPS, CINEMA AND SPORT
Alongside these homes will be some careful place-making with new shops, bars and restaurants, a multiscreen cinema and even space to play beach volleyball as those aircraft roar overhead.
One of the largest projects is the £410 million revamp of the former Hounslow Civic Centre site in Lampton Road. Notting Hill Housing is building 919 new homes across 10 buildings designed by architects Sheppard Robson.
Half of the homes will be affordable, ring-fenced for those priced out of London’s property market. Meanwhile, a new civic building including a library and café is being built nearby by developer Linkcity.
Work started on 88 Lampton Road last year and the first 160 homes will be ready this autumn. This first phase of homes will all be affordable, with rental properties being offered to people on Hounslow council’s housing waiting list. Shared-ownership homes will be on the market next year.
Despite creating almost 1,000 homes the only new amenity this development will have is a café. However, Akin Adenubi, of Notting Hill Housing, believes the central location and design will successfully knit the scheme into the local community.
“We back on to 40-acre Lampton Park and there will be roads to the park — this is not some sort of gated community.” Residents will be less than half a mile from Hounslow Central Tube station, on the Piccadilly line in Zone 4, and equally close to the high street and shops.
RENTAL HOMES NEAR THE TUBE
Meyer Homes plan to build 293 rental homes at London Road close to Hounslow East Tube station, with 38 affordable for those who can’t afford market rents. The homes will be ready to move into late next year. There will also be commercial space on the site, although it hasn’t been decided whether this will be offices, shops, restaurants, or a mixture of all three.
Hounslow East station — also Piccadilly line, Zone 4 — is a five-minute walk away. There is little that can be done about the constant roar of aircraft but it reminds you how close Heathrow is when you want to catch a plane.
The shops and eateries of London Road are on the doorstep, including Indian restaurants that are excellent and good value. But there are too many charity shops and pawn brokers.
A NEW ‘QUARTER’
Barratt London is building 311 private flats and 216 affordable homes in four buildings at High Street Quarter, Hounslow. They will be launching in spring.
No prices are given as yet but Barratt has confirmed that all will be eligible for Help to Buy London, which means a price cap of £600,000.
The first residents will be able to move in during autumn next year, and the three-acre site, close to Hounslow Central station, will be completed by 2021.
Launching in spring: High Street Quarter, Hounslow
This site will be far from simply a commuter dormitory. As well as homes there will be a new 10-screen cinema plus shops, cafés, restaurants and a new square with space for sports including beach volleyball and kabaddi, a high-octane game of tag that’s the national sport of Bangladesh.
This is the development that will make or break regenerated Hounslow.
When a multitude of different developers moves in, there must be some serious joined-up thinking on how to rejuvenate the wider area for all the new residents.
Despite repeated prompting, however, Hounslow borough council appeared unable to say how several million pounds from its own coffers and from the Mayor’s Outer London Fund is being spent on improving the town centre — which suffers, in the authority’s own words, from “run-down streets and a lack of well-defined public space”.
TARGETING YOUNG LONDON BUYERS WITH ASPIRATIONS
Nathan Smith, Barratt’s senior project manager, sees an exciting future for the area. A not-for-profit arm of Barratt will continue to manage the site once the workmen have moved out, and Smith is currently discussing with local people what amenities they feel they need, from crèches to Christmas markets.
Some sort of gym facility will be provided, and Smith promises the letting of new shops to cater for the affluent young buyers of new flats.