A more appealing Ealing: can Crossrail enliven the ‘Queen of the Suburbs’?

Film-maker Glenn Kelly bought his first home in Ealing last April after looking around other parts of west London. While working at Ealing Studios — the oldest continuously working film and TV facility in the world — he bought a one-bedroom apartment at Filmworks, a new residential and cultural development on the site of the former Art Deco Empire Cinema.

So far so cinematic, but Kelly’s decision was also based on the arrival of Crossrail (the Elizabeth line) to nearby Ealing Broadway station, reducing travel times across London considerably. “Taking the long-term view, I think it will make it easier to sell,” says Kelly, 37. “But I also like that Ealing is moving away from its ‘Queen of the Suburbs’ image, becoming more vibrant.”

Known for its tree-lined avenues of Edwardian houses — not to mention the droll, quintessentially British postwar “Ealing comedies” it produced — a new dimension to the area’s appeal has been its two new Crossrail stations, which were announced in 2008. The much-delayed route will finally be operational later this year.

With the opening getting closer, there’s more interest in renting in the area, says Kieran Rigley, head of lettings at Savills Ealing: “Now 80 per cent of new registrations ask first up, ‘When will Crossrail be in Ealing?’” 

On the question of whether Crossrail has been fully priced into property values in Ealing, the picture is more nuanced. Although buy-to-let investors started buying properties — especially flats — from 2008, stamp duty increases on second homes and changes to buy-to-let tax relief slowed these sales. “Landlords have been offloading properties and resale flat prices have come down,” says Paul Daniel of agent Hamptons.

In the past two years, the average price of a flat in Ealing — an area which includes the W5 and W13 postcodes and sits west of Acton in the London Borough of Ealing — has fallen by 2 per cent, to £461,000; but houses have increased by 7 per cent to £1.02mn, according to Hamptons using Land Registry figures.

The Dickens Yard development near Ealing Broadway © Shutterstock/William Barton

Sayu Sinha, a chief investment officer, bought in 2019 and is optimistic that his five-bedroom house near West Ealing station will continue to appreciate in value. “I bought my first London property on the [then-new] Jubilee Line in 2000 and saw the price rises. I chose to buy a detached house close to the new Crossrail line because this house type is not being built [in London] any more so I am looking at the long term.”

The father of one, whose wife is an education consultant, also chose the area for its secondary schools. Notting Hill & Ealing High School, a popular independent girls’ school, is a short walk away, but the area has several Ofsted-rated Outstanding and Good state schools as well as other independents.

Traditionally, the sought-after areas of Ealing have been North Ealing — including Montpelier and Pitshanger Lane, a vibrant high street of independent shops near Pitshanger Park — and around South Ealing and Northfields for school catchment areas and two more parks.

But demand has shifted towards West Ealing — traditionally a more affordable area — especially the St Stephen’s Conservation Area, where Sinhu lives, and the Draytons, a collection of roads of Edwardian houses near Drayton Green Park. In December last year, a four-bedroom house on Drayton Road sold for £1.2mn, a record price for the street.

North Ealing’s Brentham Garden Estate — a master-planned community built between 1901 and 1915 — remains popular. With Arts and Crafts-style houses, allotments and a sports and leisure club, the community was in many ways ahead of its time, says Sue Elliott, a writer and historian who has lived there with her husband, an academic, for 35 years. Many of her neighbours are also long-term residents. “It’s very social. We have a strawberry tea every July in one of the larger gardens — usually attended by our two local MPs — a traditional May Day parade, street parties.”

Map of Ealing, London

The sports club with tennis, bowls and snooker is open, for a fee, to residents. “It’s wonderful sitting on the terrace in the summer if you can ignore the roar of the traffic on the nearby A40 [near the infamous Hanger Lane gyratory multi-lane roundabout],” Elliott adds.

Smaller cottages on the estate cost from around £700,000. In 2020, a five-bedroom semi-detached property sold on Brentham Way for £1.425mn.

Larger properties are to be found on East Ealing’s Tudor Revival-style Hanger Hill Garden Suburb, with family houses and three-storey blocks of flats built between 1928 and 1936; and the neighbouring Haymills Estate, with a mix of Tudor, neo-Georgian and Streamline Moderne-style homes built on concentric roads that will soon be full of cherry blossom.

Pitzhanger Manor, a historic house and gallery  
Pitzhanger Manor, a historic house and gallery   © Shutterstock/William Barton

Detached four to six-bedroom houses with 100ft gardens and forecourts on Haymills cost £1mn-£2mn, according to Derek Grimshaw of local agent Grimshaw & Co. He says the estate is popular with Middle Eastern buyers as well as Japanese families — the Japanese School is just over the nearby border with Acton — though many tend to rent.

“It’s such a pretty area, the state schools are great [ . . . ] It feels like a leafy oasis only 20 minutes on the Tube into central London, so we love it,” says Kate Crossland, a doctor and Green party council candidate who shares a two-bedroom flat in the Hanger Hill Estate with her husband and nine-year-old daughter.

Line chart of Average property price in Ealing (combined W5 &W13 postcodes), by type (£) showing Prices of Ealing's houses and flats are diverging

When the estates were built, it was expected that, as families grew, they might move from the flats into the houses. But the faster rise in house prices compared to flats has prevented Crossland from trading up, she says. In the current market, two-bedroom flats cost £450,000-£525,000; a three-bedroom house costs £875,000.

Parts of Ealing are undergoing development. There are two large new-build mixed-use schemes near Ealing Broadway by the Berkeley Group: Dickens Yard (698 flats on a former car park) and Filmworks (with 209 homes).

There are still some empty retail units at Dickens Yard. It’s been hard for the shopkeepers in Ealing Broadway Shopping Centre to compete with nearby Westfield shopping mall, says Gerry Barwick, chief executive of Make it Ealing, the area’s Business Improvement District. “It’s got a bit dusty over recent years; we are trying to make the shopping aspirational rather than functional.” She says there is also 35,000 sq m of new office space being built, and that 4,500 extra jobs will be available.

Despite the area’s most famous export, Ealing is still entirely bereft of any cinemas. Film-lovers must wait until the autumn for a new three-screen cinema from the Really Local Group, a high street regeneration specialist. The delayed Filmworks’ eight-screen Picturehouse is also due to open later this year. As Kelly says: “With its great film-making heritage it’s well overdue that Ealing has at least one cinema.”

Buying guide

The western section of the Elizabeth Line (or Crossrail) is due to open in late 2022. From Ealing Broadway the journey time to Bond Street will be 11 minutes; to Canary Wharf 25 minutes. A new HS2 “superhub” station is being built at Old Oak Common (close to East Ealing), offering fast trains to the Midlands and northern England.

Ealing Broadway is already served by the London Underground Central and District Lines; Ealing Common is on the District and Piccadilly Lines; North Ealing, Park Royal, South Ealing and Northfields are on the Piccadilly Line; Hanger Lane and West Acton on the Central Line. Trains from Ealing Broadway to Paddington take around 10 minutes.

What you can buy . . . 

Two-bedroom flat, £590,000 A 67 sq m, two-bedroom flat in a period building on Gordon Road, between Ealing Broadway Tube and West Ealing rail stations. The flat has an annual service charge of £2,593 and ground rent of £100 per annum. Available with Hamptons.

© Miroslav Cik

Seven-bedroom house, £2.1mn A seven-bedroom semi-detached property with 290 sq m of living space. The home, which is a short walk from Ealing Broadway Tube station, has a self-contained flat on the lower-ground floor. Available through Savills.

Five-bedroom house, £2.65mn A 345 sq m Edwardian home on Creffield Road, near Ealing Common Tube station. The property, which has a turret in one corner, has three reception rooms, four bathrooms and a large, south-facing garden. Available with Fine and Country.

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