he Eva Hart pub is a landmark on Chadwell Heath High Road. It was named in honour of a local woman who survived the Titanic disaster which is oddly appropriate because even a quick walk around this deepest east London neighbourhood produces a distinct sinking feeling.
Discount stores, betting shops, greasy spoons. A decade after work on Crossrail — a project predicated on its ability to inspire regeneration across a swathe of the capital — began Chadwell Health is looking rather tired.
It doesn’t even have the open space its name promises. The local heathland was fenced off in 1860s and has been mostly built over although a section still survives in the form of St Chad’s Park, with its ornamental gardens and sports’ pitches.
On the plus side, all the local schools hold outstanding or good Ofsted reports, Hainault Forest and Fairlop Waters are both close by for open space, and Romford is just up the road for a wider range of shops and restaurants.
Average house prices since work on Crossrail started
Growth: 73 per cent
These are just some of the reason that have kept April Mehmet living in Chadwell Heath for the past 15 years. She rents a house in the area, with her family, and works in education.
In her spare time April has set up an award winning charity, Walk it Out, which encourages women to get out and about, walking, cycling, and trying out yoga. A keen boxer herself, and inspired by the murder of Sarah Everard last year, April plans to add boxing to the group’s list of activities to help give women greater confidence.
“I do like Chadwell Heath, it feels like a secure place to live, and there is a lot of green space which I really love,” she said.
“The High Street is basic, it’s just for food shopping really, but you can get to Romford or Stratford.”
Crossrail journey times from Chadwell Heath
To Tottenham Court Road: 38 minutes
To Paddington: 43 minutes
To Heathrow: From 79 minutes
Timings include 10 minutes for interchange at Liverpool Street, eight minutes for interchange at Paddington, in force until 2023
For eating locally you’ll struggle to find much atmosphere, equally you won’t starve to death with options including pizza at Casa Italiana, meze at Melih BBQ, or a coffee and a snack at Bon Appetit.
For April, a vegan, more choice would be a blessing but on the whole she is pleased her neighbourhood hasn’t been reinvented by Crossrail. “We don’t need more traffic and more pollution,” she said. “I like Chadwell Heath as it is.”
Most of Chadwell Heath’s houses were built between the wars to provide overspill homes for Londoners rippling out towards Essex so expect lots of mock Tudor semis. There are also flats, including the recently-converted former tax office.
Prices have increased by almost seven per cent since the start of the pandemic. “When we had the Stamp Duty holiday [2020-2021] it seemed like everybody and their brother wanted to move to Chadwell Heath,” said Paul Wallace, a director at Brian Thomas estate agents.
Nowadays a three bedroom semi would set you back around £450,000, a two bedroom flat around £250,000. Renters could find a three bedroom house for around £1,500 to £1,600pcm, or a two bedroom flat for around £1,200 to £1,300pcm.
“Most people are coming out of the East End of London, or from Stratford,” said Wallace. “They can find more affordability here, whether they are buying or renting, and they are still on the same train line.”
Barking and Dagenham Council remains optimistic that Crossrail will bring investment into Chadwell Heath
The future for Chadwell Heath
Barking and Dagenham Council remains optimistic that Crossrail will bring investment into Chadwell Heath. Last year it commissioned architects to draw up redevelopment plans for the whole area, featuring more than 4,000 new homes, shops and restaurants, modern schools, and open spaces.
But its proposals won’t be translated into reality until a developer with deep pockets buys into the idea and provides the necessary cash.
Beyond that there has only been a tiny trickle of investment in the area. American Golf, the sports retailer, Chadwell Heath’s Golf Kingdom at the start of the year, have spent a reported £750,000 and reopened it with a golf simulator room, sports bar and lounge, and an 18-hole course.
Plans to redevelop the tatty Chadwell Heath Baptist Church, and convert part of it into flats, were approved last year. And The White Horse, a fire damaged and semi-derelict pub currently blighting the high road, could also be rebuilt with new homes around it.