Considered by many to be the Silicon Valley of Europe, there is no denying that London is a vibrant, varied city, teeming with events, art exhibitions, concerts and athletics. But within the capital, each of the boroughs is in a constant state of flux. Whilst that means that there is never a dull moment, it is a good idea to look at the overall picture before you decide on a location to live, set up a business or just freelance.
The brand new Elizabeth line will begin running on the London underground in some areas throughout 2017. It is predicted to transport nearly half a million people a day, making commute times to central London faster and easier. Most significantly, the Elizabeth line will enable people who work in the centre to move further afield without needing to spend hours on the tube.
It is not a secret that we are moving from a culture of ownership towards one of access. Workspaces are no exception, and growing numbers of people are moving towards coworking. Many are attracted by the flexibility, lower prices and versatility. Londoners are flocking to a number of cool new spaces throughout the capital. Shoreditch, Camden and Islington in particular have been drawing people to their numerous coworking spaces in recent months. In 2017, the trend is spreading further afield as more start-ups, freelancers and bigger businesses switch to coworking spaces.
Here is a look at the areas set to become hives of innovation, creativity and all-round fun in 2017 as a result.
Southwark – particularly Camberwell Green
Southwark is home to the Shard, the tallest building in Europe. This has kicked off a wave of new developments and innovative buildings. So it’s no surprise that Southwark is fast becoming a popular area, with house sales in some parts up by as much as 114%. Camberwell Green is one area which is becoming popular amongst younger people due to the surprisingly reasonable house prices for such a central spot.
Southwark is home to a number of exciting places to eat, including The Breakfast Club, a funky self-proclaimed ‘caf’, known for brunches and the Michelin starred Story Restaurant. It is also the location of the Tate Modern and Borough market. Southwark is full of interesting bars, including Bermondsey Arts Club – an art deco cocktail bar in a disused toilet.
The area is a rare location where both art and business mixes seamlessly. You’ll find a rich cultural scene around the Southwark Playhouse, independent Shortwave Cinema, White Cube Gallery and Flat Iron Square.
Where start-ups go, larger businesses are sure to follow. Southwark’s coworking spaces (including the Curve and the News Building) are a melting pot where freelancers, start up founders and those in creative industries work alongside corporate employees. The South Bank area is notably popular amongst fintech startups.
As a result, they are an ideal place to build your network – you never know who might ask to borrow a stapler. After all, where you work is as much about the community vibe as it is about the amenities.
If coworking is not enough for you, coliving developments are starting to pop-up around London. Southwark is set to see some major developments in the coming years, offering low stress, low-cost housing for people of all ages.
Barnet – Southern Barnet
Barnet is rising in popularity amongst first-time homeowners. Being slightly further out (a trip to Central London takes around 30 minutes), it is less hectic and more affordable. As improvements to London Underground lines shave more minutes off commute times, the area is forecasted to become more in demand.
The local council are highly supportive of emerging businesses, offering mentoring programmes, infrastructure rejuvenation schemes and support with negotiating tricky paperwork.
You’ll never be short of a place to work on your big idea in Barnet. Not only is there free WiFi throughout the entire town centre, but there are also 15 public libraries. Barnet is one of London’s greener areas. It’s perfect for holding a walking meeting or an outdoors brainstorming session – a technique proven to boost creativity. When a more formal location is required, there are a number of coworking desks and offices available in the area.
All in all, Barnet is set to become an ideal location for the precarious early stages of starting a business, especially for those who want somewhere a little quieter, whilst still staying close to Central London.
Newham – particularly Forest Gate
Newham (most notably Forest Gate) has changed a lot in recent years. A combination of the Olympic Park and Westfield have lead to some serious upgrading of the entire area. The whole of Newham is predicted to take on much of London’s eastwards growth in the coming years.
By 2025, an estimated £22 billion will have been spent on the current rejuvenation project, creating 100,000 new jobs. Most notable is the Royal Docks enterprise zone. This is a huge area of prime waterfront land, designated for business HQs from all over the world. It is likely that some of the spaces currently under construction will be offered for coworking in 2017. Plans are underway to create a series of purpose-built pavilions for product innovation. New ideas will be exhibited to the public, creating a growth hacker style focus on feedback. Some people are predicting that Newham will become as important as central London in the future.
With the opening of the Elizabeth line, Newham is forecasted to transform further, as commute times to central London drop below 18 minutes.
Locals describe Coffee7 as a gathering place for creative minded people, particularly in the upstairs meeting rooms. An arts and crafts market started by residents has injected a stronger sense of community into the Forest Gate postcode.
Brent – Wembley
Brent is one of the most culturally diverse areas in London, with a high percentage of knowledge workers. The recent dramatic regeneration project around Wembley Stadium has caused a turnaround in how it is viewed. This has created thousands of new homes, along with better streets and three new parks. As a result, new businesses are setting up in Brent, resulting in an estimated 1000 fresh jobs. Commute times to central London sit at around 40 minutes by tube.
New initiatives are underway to clean up the streets and improve the general vibe. There’s also a center for artists and creatives which offers mentoring, exhibition space and workshops.
Proposals have been submitted for the building of an Enterprise Hub in Brent. This will include the development of coworking spaces geared towards start-ups and local businesses. It will also offer music studios, meeting rooms, a community garden and even co-living spaces- all designed to be as affordable as possible.
Moving forward in 2017, you can expect this previously overlooked postcode to become a more interesting community.