Elizabeth Line mega-districts set to bring thousands of homes from Southall to Woolwich
London’s new Cross rail stations are architectural showstoppers in their own right. They will bring thousands of homes, shops and offices to large new neighborhoods across the capital…
The just-released first images of London’s upcoming new Crossrail stations prove that the eagerly awaited east-west train line will deliver more than reduced journey times for the city’s commuters.
All these new stations on the Elizabeth line, as it will be called when it opens in two years’ time, have been designed by renowned architects to reflect the heritage and character of their local areas, and several qualify as architectural showstoppers in their own right.
Indeed, for the first time with a major UK rail project, there is joined-up building design, with new stations and the buildings above and alongside them designed to ensure stations knit into their surroundings and improve the urban realm.
There will be lively commercial zones, a lot of glamorous new homes and some stations will be at the heart of large new neighbourhoods, particularly in Woolwich and Southall. More than 3,500 new homes at Southall will border the Grand Union Canal, with the first unveiled next year.
A park after you ride
The spectacular new Canary Wharf station has been built within a dock that will remain a navigable channel for boats. A striking timber lattice roof structure shelters a 310-metre-long park, below which are six levels of shops, restaurants and cafés.
Farringdon station is inspired by the Brutalist architecture of the Barbican yet will have lighter design elements reflecting the intricate craftsmanship of the nearby Hatton Garden jewellery quarter.
Art on the line
In the tradition of the marvellous Moscow metro, Crossrail is melding art and infrastructure by creating fabulous murals, sculpture and installations, while a “Culture Line” initiative will link stations with neighbourhood art galleries, exhibition spaces and theatres.
One of the permanent artworks — A Cloud Index by Spencer Finch — is embedded within a spectacular 120-metre-long glass canopy above the concourse at the new Paddington station, which “echoes the design legacy of Brunel’s existing terminus building”.
Forty new public areas outside stations are creating space equivalent in size to 19 Leicester Squares.
Woolwich’s new Arsenal
Once a walled-off munitions factory where a 5,000-home neighbourhood is evolving, the new station entrance opens on to Dial Arch Square, a new green space flanked by prized listed buildings and classy new apartment blocks.
Homes in these waterfront towers cost from £440,000, rising to more than £1,395,000 for duplexes and penthouses, while a phase called Pavilion Square includes two Georgian warehouses converted into flats priced from £460,000. Call 020 8331 7130. More than 2,000 people have already moved to this mini-district which also has various shops and eateries — galleries, museums and a children’s nursery too — in historic buildings such as The Guard House.
The station cements a long-held ambition of local planners to unite the riverside estate with Woolwich town centre, achieved through a new pedestrian boulevard. And there is a Thames Clipper riverbus pier.
Ex-local authority flats in the area start at less than £150,000, according to local estate agent Peter James. Call 020 8858 2555. And away from the town centre and industrial estates, Woolwich has a Common plus leafy tree-lined avenues and conservation areas.
Woolwich is only one of two Crossrail stations south of the river. The other is at nearby Abbey Wood, which in transport terms at least is likely to experience a more “transformational impact” than anywhere else along the route, according to the Crossrail company. This is because journey times to central London will be halved, with a train every five minutes at peak times.
It is the biggest addition to the local train network since the North Kent line was built in 1849. “It may be a bleak outpost now, but Crossrail will propel Abbey Wood into a completely new demand bracket because it will be one of the best connected and most affordable Zone 4 locations,” says Candice Matthews, director of property consultant Cushman & Wakefield. Most housing here dates back to the Fifties and Sixties when the London County Council built new estates on marshland.
Much of the uncompromising concrete architecture fell into disrepute and is now being bulldozed to make way for new homes for a new generation.
Peabody, the housing charity, is building a new neighbourhood that “reinterprets” the traditional 19th-century Peabody estates. Clusters of brick blocks will be grouped around raised shared courtyards, creating smaller communities within the larger whole. And where there were once towers there will now be a sequence of streets and lakeside squares, one with a focal point water clock tower and an arcade of shops. Three miles of waterfront will connect to the new Crossrail station.
The area has been given “housing zone” status by the Mayor of London, meaning development will be fast-tracked. New river crossings are also planned in this part of London.
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