House prices in Slough and Reading set to benefit most from London’s Crossrail project

House prices in the commuter towns of Slough and Reading have so far benefitted the most from the new Crossrail project that will join central London to routes west and east of the city when it opens in 2019, new research shows.

House prices in these two locations have increased by 39% and 33% respectively since April 2014, compared with the regional average of 22%, according to the research from UK home lender the Nationwide.

The railway line, to be known as the Elizabeth Line, will stretch from Reading and Heathrow in the west to Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the east, meaning that 40 stations will connect town in Berkshire and Essex to major hubs in London including the City and Canary Wharf as well as Heathrow airport.

According to the research commuter towns' property markets are likely to benefit most from the introduction of Crossrail as Greater London stations are already well integrated, with good transport links around the capital, and thus house prices in these areas are unlikely to benefit substantially from marginal improvements in transport links.

The strong rate of house price growth in Slough and Reading has been driven by robust demand for properties and a rise in transactions. Following the announcement that the project would go ahead, the number of homes sold in the three months to August 2014 was up 24% year on year in Wokingham, versus an average increase of 16% in the region as a whole in the same period.

The research explains that eastern branches of the line do not extend as far out of Greater London as the western section, only reaching Brentwood and Shenfield outside of the capital and this may help to explain why the positive Crossrail effect apparent in the west is slightly more muted in the eastern section.

House prices in the borough of Brentwood, which also includes Shenfield, have increased by 43% since the May 2010 government pledge of completion, compared with a regional average in the East of England of 36%.

Over the last two years Brentwood house prices have risen broadly in line with the regional average at 24% versus 23%. The report suggests that lower rate of price growth, compared with western areas, may be due to the area already having good transport links to both The City and the Docklands, via Stratford, through Greater Anglia services and also the Shenfield metro now operated by TfL Rail.

‘Slough has been much maligned for many years. However, our research into the effect of the new Elizabeth Line on house prices in the town suggests that this may be unfair and that Slough, in fact, may be a more desirable place to live than people might imagine,’ said Andrew Harvey, senior economic analyst at Nationwide.

He pointed out that the analysis suggests that the Crossrail project has provided a significant uplift to prices on the western section of the line to Berkshire. Slough, in particular, has seen house prices rise by 39% since April 2014, nearly double the average rate of growth seen across the South East as a whole. Average house prices in the town have historically been around 15% to 20% lower than the regional average, but the growth seen since 2014 means that prices are now just around 6% lower than the South East average.

‘The new Elizabeth Line is likely to make Slough an attractive proposition for London workers who prefer not to live in the capital as journey times will be around 15 minutes faster into Central London and 20 minutes faster to the Docklands,’ Harvey explained.

‘It's not just a place to live and commute either, as recent research also indicated that Slough is becoming one of the UK's top creative hubs for business and employment with more and more jobs in advertising, film, radio, TV and publishing popping up in the town. Slough is becoming a more attractive proposition for people to live,’ he added.

‘It will be interesting to see if the house price trends seen in both Slough and the wider South East region continue over the next few years as the full service is introduced,’ he concluded.