20 Wednesday, 12 August 2009 London Lite20 Wednesday, 12 August 2009 London Lite WITH THREE YEARS TO GO UNTIL THE OLYMPICS AND HOUSESMarket moves... FOLLOWING recent news that the humble bumblebees numbers are dwindling, were delighted to hear The Crown Estate is lending a hand. It is placing beehives on top of the buildings it owns in Regent Street. A bunch of bees have already taken up residence in one hive and it is hoped more will follow, leaving Regent Street abuzz. OUR favourite pop princess might have found the man of her dreams, but shes struggling to find the house to match. Kylie was apparently close to buying a 2.6m retreat near Wantage in Oxfordshire, but pulled out at the last minute. And while its been reported she and boyfriend Andres Velencoso are looking for a place near his family in Tossa De Mar, Spain, theyve yet to buy. THIRTYSOMETHING, renting and still cant afford to buy? Youre not alone. The latest figures from the Council Of Mortgage Lenders suggest that unless youre one of the lucky ones who can beg or borrow from mum and dad, youre likely to be 37 before you own your own home. Hardly surprising that a staggering 80 per cent of us are turning to our parents to help us get a foot on the property ladder. DEVOTEES of Location, Location, Location who want the inside scoop on what went on behind the cameras and what Kirstie and Phil, pictured, really thought of that irritating couple who changed their minds every five minutes should start following Kirstie on Twitter. During last weeks show she gave a commentary at twitter.com/ kirstiemallsopp, in which gems included: When Phil says reconvene he means I need a drink, and: You can tell hes had a couple, his ears have gone pink. W ITH only three years to go until London h o s t s t h e 2 01 2 Olympic Games in Stratford, the area is changing at a rate of knots. What was once an overlooked outpost of east London with poor transport links and few amenities is being redeveloped into an Olympic city with leisure, shopping, transport and housing facilities that will make it unrecognisable -- and a much more desirable place to live. Four years ago, when London won the bid for the Games, forecasters predicted an Olympic bounce, a property micro- boom that would drive prices skyward. But the scramble for Stratford didnt last and now the pace is steadier. Moreover, as the market plummeted across the country, Stratford suffered as much as anywhere. However, this doesnt mean the area doesnt offer incredible value for first-time buyers and those with a long-term view. Its cheap with fantastic travel links now, says estate agent Ian Hamilton, head of the local branch of Halifax. Average prices in Stratford stand at just below 200,000, hav- ing fallen 22 per cent in the last year. In London the aver- a g e proper ty, according to the Halifax, costs 270,000. This is bad news for owners plunged into negative equity, but excellent news for first- time buyers and investors on a limited budget looking for a bargain. Dominic Grace of Savills, who specialises in new developments, believes E15 is now one of the capitals best investment opportunities. Stratford is having a major redevelopment being delivered at top speed, he says. It is the total package, and it is being delivered in a guaranteed three years -- unlike some other regeneration areas, which drag on and on. It will have genuinely world- class facilities, making it a completely different place to live. Travel to Stratford, a 10-minute hop from Liverpool Street, and you can see exactly how the billions of pounds are being spent. Cranes dominate the sky- line and work has already begun on Stratford City, a 73-hectare mixed devel- opment of homes, shops and offices. Its centrepiece is the 1.45bn Westfield Stratford City, a massive shopping centre which will open in 2011. After the Games finish, a new park and up to 12,000 new homes will be cre- ated on the Olympic site in 2013. The Government has still not decided on the future of the main stadium, but every- thing from a premiership football club to a sports university are mooted. Stratford is served by the Central, Jubilee and North London Tube lines. It is also on the Docklands Light Railway, which is being extended to Stratford International station. A train from there to Paris or Brussels takes about two hours. According to Mr Grace the key to buying a good investment in the area is to make sure it is extremely close to the new facilities, particularly the sta- tions and the shopping centre. He rec- ommends looking in a radius of no more than 10 minutes walk away. Ian Hamilton feels prices in Stratford have bottomed out, but that well-heeled young professionals are moving in. He has plenty of young city commuters who want a crash pad near the station and who will pay about 150,000 for a one-bedroom or 225,000 for a two-bed- room flat. For people willing to live slightly further out a two-bedroom Victorian house costs 200,000, a three- bedroom one 250,000. George Singh, manager of the Stratford branch of Felicity J Lord, says: This is an area where people buy for the future. Nobody is looking for the short term, but it will be a dif- ferent place by 2012. BY RUTH BLOOMFIELD Thetransportlinkswillgetevenbetter GRAHAM BRIGHT, 38, manager of the Theatre Royal Stratford East, and his wife Rita, 27, live in Stratford with their baby daughter Riame, 18 months. Graham says: I love living in Stratford, I love the whole of east London actually -- its got culture, and vibrancy and it is real. We live in a two-bedroom flat which was converted out of an old Victorian college building. We bought in 2007 for 250,000 and it has been a bit of a rocky ride price-wise, but an estate agent now tells us it is worth 270,000. When we were looking for a flat we hoped that all the Olympic work would do something for the prices and that seems to be the case now. I think that as a whole Newham has more facilities for young children than anywhere else in London -- there are all sorts of activities. Stratford has a bad reputation for yobs and crime and things, which is a shame. I go out walking all the time, I take the dog to the local parks, and the fear factor just isnt there. I have lived all over London and I think its the same as everywhere else. Transport links here are already fantastic, and theyre about to improve further. I cant really fault it as a place to live. Property&interiors Second windfor Stratford property Old-school style: the Brights building riderockyaofbitabeenhas buildingBrightsthestyle:Old-school Vibrant: Graham and Rita Bright, with daughter Riame, love living in Stratford index.html2.html3.html4.html5.html6.html7.html8.html9.html10.html11.html12.html13.html14.html15.html16.html17.html18.html19.html20.html21.html22.html23.html24.html25.html26.html27.html28.html29.html30.html31.html32.html33.html34.html35.html