More For Your Money: Striking gold in the East End

By Robert Liebman

The cycling velodrome is being built in Leyton just west of Leytonstone, and some local property owners and estate agents believe that property values have already begun to rise in anticipation of the main gold rush. Beate Hohmann and her partner Rosalie made their move well before the Olympics hoopla. "About four years ago, we were living in a three-storey townhouse in Hackney near London Fields when I was made redundant," says Hohmann, who was a senior research analyst. "Around the same time, property prices in Hackney went mad. We could stick it out in Hackney or move to Leytonstone, which we knew was a villagey area with a community spirit."

Owners of four cats and two dogs, Hohmann and Rosalie have the latter to thank for their wisdom: "Previously we'd lived in Walthamstow and we used to walk our dogs, Freddy and Pip, in Hollow Ponds in Epping Forest near Leytonstone. We attended events in Leytonstone and made friends there.

"We wanted to buy a property outright, and we could not do that in Hackney. But we did buy a smallish Edwardian house here. It was cheap because it needed work, and we spent an enormous amount renovating it."

Although Leytonstone is further out from central London than Hackney, she has no complaints on that, or other, scores. "Hackney is a rough area, and Leytonstone is dog-walking heaven. You can actually see Docklands, and you can get to the City and the West End very quickly by Tube. Leytonstone has the biggest Tesco I've ever seen, and there is also an Asda. And living here enabled me to get rid of my car."

Hohmann now runs her own business - Galax-e of Stars (www.galaxeofstars.com) - providing website design, promotion and marketing to artists and small businesses. Although Hackney property has out-performed Leytonstone, she has no regrets: "Hackney is very metropolitan but we did not know our neighbours. Now we know all of our neighbours. We made more friends in three years here than in our six years in Hackney."

What are the prices like?

One-bed flats start at about £125,000, although retirement flats hover around £100,000. Some flats are in fairly modern purpose-built blocks, but several are in converted Victorian houses and have private gardens or offer a share of the freehold. Three-bed terraces sell for as little as £150,000, but houses in better locations or condition sell for much more.

What about family homes?

Although the railway reached Leytonstone in 1856, housebuilding didn't begin in earnest until some 20 years later. Leytonstone has several popular estates, such as Bushwood, which also lends its name to a long L-shaped road, and the adjacent wood, which borders Wanstead Flats. Six- and seven-bedroom period houses in these prime areas sell for between £500,000 and £600,000. In nearby Wanstead, prices top £1m.

What about new developments?

Still under construction, Bellway's Zodiac on Leytonstone High Road will contain 61 one- and two-bed flats, from £199,995. The same developer is building similar flats in the much larger 144-unit Quadrant within the grounds of Leyton Orient football club. Many overlook the pitch.

What about transport?

Leytonstone is served by the Central Line and, at a separate station on the High Road, by Silverlink's Gospel Oak-Barking Line, which links with Silverlink's North London Line at Gospel Oak, the Victoria Line at Blackhorse Road, and the District and Hammersmith and City lines at Barking.

The M11 and Stansted Airport are convenient, as will be the new Eurostar station due to open in Stratford in a few years.

What about open spaces?

Spoilt for choice. Leytonstone borders the southern edge of Epping Forest, near the Hollow Pond boating lake. Other large parks nearby include Hackney Marshes and Wanstead Flats. A golf course borders the latter. The five-year-old Langthorne Park has a floodlit multi-sports area, facilities for open-air performances, and specially commissioned art pieces.

Shopping and night life?

Tesco is 24 hours. Leytonstone's long High Road has sad bits, but Hohmann praises the area's Indian and Thai restaurants, and pubs with live music. Some music venues have late licences.

What about schools?

George Tomlinson Primary and Nursery School on Vernon Road scored above average in English and science, below in maths. Connaught Secondary School for Girls scored slightly below the national average.

And one for the pub quiz

Several famous entertainers and athletes and at least one photographer were born in Leytonstone (even if only technically, at Whipps Cross Hospital). Can you name any?

David Bailey, David Beckham, Phyllis Primrose-Peachy (better known as Fanny Cradock), Graham Gooch, Iron Maiden's Steve Harris, Sir Derek Jacobi and Sir Alfred Hitchcock.

Estate agents: David Daniels, 020-8555 3521; Douglas Allen Spiro, 020-8509 0092

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