There is something joyfully unique about the chaos that is Southall Market, the beating heart of London’s South Asian community, and the go-to place to shop for spices and sari fabric and enjoy outstanding street food.
The market has remained blissfully immune to the kind of gentrification which have turned other London street markets into bouji crafts-and-organic-food jamborees – despite the fact that this neighbourhood, affectionately known as Little India, is in the throes of a vast multi billion pound regeneration.
Leading the charge is Berkeley Homes which started work building 3,750 homes on the 88-acre former Southall Gasworks in 2016. The Green Quarter’s first residents moved in in 2019, but this massive project will take around 25 years to complete.
When the Elizabeth Line is fully up and running – with no need to swap trains at Paddington or Liverpool Street – it will slash journey times from Southall to Bond Street (less than 20 minutes) and Canary Wharf (around half an hour).
It was these super-fast timings which convinced 23-year-old Will Angel, 23, product manager for a tech startup, to swap a shared flat in Battersea for a £400,000 one-bedroom flat of his own at The Green Quarter.
Will opted to buy a new property so he could take advantage of the Help to Buy scheme – which only requires a five per cent deposit – and he wanted a location with investment potential and good transport links to his office in West Kensington and the West End.
“There’s so much money being invested in the area right now, and I wanted to be a part of that,” he said.
“One of the biggest reasons I bought at The Green Quarter was the Elizabeth Line; it will shorten my commute significantly. It’ll also make travelling into central London a lot quicker and easier as well which is great – I can’t wait for it to launch.”
Average house prices since work on Crossrail started
Growth: 81 per cent
Prices at The Green Quarter start at £480,000 for a two bedroom flat. A new tranche of one bedroom flats will go on sale later this summer.
Beyond The Green Quarter, Southall is surprisingly leafy for a neighbourhood in the shadow of Heathrow Airport, with Southall Park, home of the fabulous annual London Mela, the peaceful towpath of the Grand Union Canal, and the 90-acre Minet Country Park. And this plentiful open space is one reason for the area’s outperforming price growth – 14 per cent since 2020 – during the pandemic.
Amandeep Roopra, manager of Parkfield estate agents, puts this growth down to strong demand – particularly for houses – and a lack of demand. As a result, buyers need to find £500,000 to £600,000 for a three bedroom Southall semi, or around £300,000 for a flat.
Crossrail journey times
From Southall to Paddington: 19 minutes
From Southall to Liverpool Street: 29 minutes
From Southall to Canary Wharf: 36 minutes
Timings include 10 minutes for interchange at Liverpool Street, eight minutes for interchange at Paddington. Necessary until 2023.
What is particularly impressive is that prices are flying in Southall despite the fact that the vast majority of its buyers are already locals, said Roopra, either first time buyers or upsizers.
Renters too tend to be local, or recent arrivals in London, plus staff working at Heathrow, and they can expect to pay around £1,800 to £1,900pcm for a three bedroom flat or around £1,400 to £1,500pcm for a two bedroom flat.
“I think there was an initial burst of interest in Southall when Crossrail was announced, and then when nothing really happened it died down,” said Roopra. “I think that now people will start to get interested again, and the new flats will draw them in.”
When The Green Quarter is complete it will include upgraded towpaths alongside the Grand Union Canal, an eight acre wetland, and new bridges along the canal linking it to Minet Country Park. There will also be shops and restaurants, and a primary school.
Leading Southall’s building pipeline are £1bn plans to transform a former margarine factory half a mile from Southall Station into a 2,000 home development with offices, shops, and a park. Outline planning permission has already been granted to reboot the Maypole Factory, plus Sunrise Radio’s former studio, to a design by Assael Architecture.
Meanwhile, plans to replace the Arches Business Centre with almost 600 blocks in buildings up to 23 stories were approved by Ealing Council in December. The site, which overlooks the railway tracks, will also have shops and offices.
Housing association Peabody is also getting into the Southall market. It was granted permission to build another 564 homes at The Green, a site five minutes south of the station, last year. Around half will be affordable and aimed at buyers and renters who have been priced out of the area.
Renters are very much included in plans for Southall’s future. Planning permission has been granted for 460 “build to rent” flats at Southall Sidings in a scheme being jointly led by Transport for London and Grainger plc, which specialises in building homes aimed at renters. Work is due to be completed by 2026 and future residents will get a communal lounge, workspace, and gym on site.
On a smaller scale, work has begun on 120 new homes which will replace Southall’s historic cattle market – founded in 1805, livestock and horses were still being sold as recently as in 2007. These homes will also be for rent, and 80 per cent will still be affordable. There will also be a small on-site market.