Article by Ruth Bloomfield
The River Roding rises in the Essex countryside and winds its way through the suburbs before meeting the River Thames at Barking.
This riverfront had been neglected for generations. But it is now being put to good use as a site for modern new homes which are putting this former 19th century fishing village back on the map.
With sought-after river views on offer and international investment pouring in, it is little wonder that property portal Rightmove recently revealed that Barking is one of the ten London postcodes which have seen the biggest jump in buyer demand in the past year.
And research from online trading platform CMC Markets found the east London hotspot has seen one of the most impressive price growth journeys in the whole of the UK over the past decade. Prices have more than doubled across Barking & Dagenham since 2012.
Weston Home’s Abbey Quay development is perfectly placed to take advantage of everything Barking has to offer This new urban village of just over 1,000 modern waterside apartments is being built on a six acre site which will also feature shops, cafes, restaurants, riverside paths and residents’ gardens.
Prices start at £335,000 for a one bedroom flat, and £405,000 for a two bedroom property.
Buyers love Barking for its value for money compared to the rest of London, as well as for its super-fast transport links.
Overground trains from Barking Station, a ten minute walk from Abbey Quay, to Fenchurch Street take just 15 minutes. The station is also on the District and Hammersmith & City lines, for trips to Shoreditch or Whitechapel, and the London Overground, for easy outings to Leytonstone or Walthamstow.
Families are attracted by the area’s high school standards. All of the local primary and secondary schools hold a “good” report from Ofsted, the Government’s schools’ watchdog.
For shopping there is Barking Market, open five days per week, plus the Vicarage Field Shopping Centre, with its mix of high street and independent stores.
In the long term there are plans to redevelop this crucial site with a more modern town centre with shops, restaurants, a gym, cinema, arts and music venue, and public open spaces.
And when The City’s three historic wholesale markets – Billingsgate, Smithfield, and New Spitalfields – relocate to the borough there are also plans to create a destination food hub in Barking town centre, featuring independent outlets serving food cooked from fresh produce straight from the markets.
While these projects are in the future there is already plenty to do in Barking, from wining and dining to shopping and days out.
The area has a reputation for outstanding Asian restaurants. But there is plenty of choice, like The Boathouse Café and Bar, serving paninis and cocktails on a site overlooking the Roding and within Barking’s new creative quarter, where there artists’ studios are set in converted warehouses.
For traditionalists there is Christina’s steakhouse, and for a caffeine fix try Storky coffee and juice bar.
Eastbury Manor House, owned by the National Trust, is a beautiful Elizabethan treasure slightly incongruously sited amongst tower blocks – on a sunny day its gardens are a wonderful spot to relax in. There is also a very good on site café.
Barking Park is the other go-to spot for open space, with its tennis courts, boating lake, and a lido. On chilly days Barking also has a well-equipped leisure centre.
And for an injection of culture The Broadway theatre has a programme of drama, music, dance – and a recommended local bar if all you really want is a nightcap.
Novelist Laure Van Rensburg was looking for a London base, and selected Abbey Quay for its transport links and green space on the doorstep.
Laure, 46, moved to the capital from her native France after finishing university, and began forging her career by writing short stories. Her first book, Nobody But Us, was published in April.
She decided to invest the proceeds from her six-figure publishing deal in bricks and mortar.
“Being able to walk along a well-lit road to the nearby station, and the incredible choice of fast transport links in and out of London, were big deciding factors for me, as well as having a supermarket very close by and a park across the road,” explained Laure, who also has a day job working for Pearson Education and had been commuting from Romford, Essex.
She chose a two bedroom flat and has been impressed by the high standard of design – inside and out.
“The homes looked good, modern and with attractive brickwork,” she said. I have seen many London blocks of flats that just get tired and grubby too quickly,” she said. “I love the light, and spacious open-plan design of the flat and I love the big run of kitchen cupboards and the boiling water tap; it means that there is no need for the clutter of a kettle.
“In the bedroom the large double-size wardrobe gives terrific storage; there is so much included.”