diamond geezer

 Wednesday, July 30, 2014

In the heart of Bow, right alongside the DLR station, rise three 25-storey residential tower blocks.

This used to be the Crossways Estate, a council estate with a grim reputation, and indeed a Grime reputation. It's where Dizzee Rascal grew up, the roof taken over by pirate radio stations and with a fair amount of crime and ill-will in the stairwells below. Overcrowded, unloved and a bit too 'real', the site became a prime target for major redevelopment.

The scrappy tarmac football pitches around the towers were soon swept away, and streets of new low-rise houses and flats built in their place. By 2011 this had become the Bow Cross estate, a mix of council-let and affordable housing, with two of the towers utterly refurbished and reclad in a more appealing pastel palette. Prices for a one-bedroom flat started at £160,000, a number now so small as to appear quaintly unattainable by 2014 standards. Such is the nature of the housing vortex that's currently swallowing London, and the Olympic fringes in particular.

Early next year the third tower block will finally be ready for tenants, that is once the kitchens have been replaced, the exterior's been fully covered and the scaffolding's come down. What used to be dour unwanted Mallard Point is being reborn as Bellevue Bow, an aspirational lifestyle destination for incoming professionals, and nowhere that former residents could possibly afford. A one bedroom flat now costs £299,000, or rather did because all the cheap options were snapped up when the project launched a couple of weeks back, and the cheapest remaining two-bed is going for £428,000.

And why live here in Bow?
"With fantastic transport links and excellent local facilities, shops and restaurants in this cosmopolitan and vibrant community, this truly is a great place to settle."
The development's website paints a picture of a neighbourhood parallel to any that I currently recognise.
"Bellevue Bow apartments are located in the heart of the historic East End. This vibrant multicultural community has a rich and fascinating heritage and has become one of London’s most exciting, dynamic areas with many boutique shops and an eclectic range of retail outlets, cafés and restaurants on your doorstep.

Living in Bow, you really are spoilt for choice when it comes to leisure, with many great cafés and bars on your doorstep. Nearby Victoria Park Village houses chic cafés, posh restaurants and cool pubs. Plus, the nearby Olympic Park and Victoria Park host some of the biggest and best events and music festivals in London including Field Day Festival, Holi Festival of Colours and Lovebox. Refurbished in 2012, Victoria Park is one of London’s most important historic parks used by millions of Londoners for nearly 170 years as a place of healthy recreation, sports, play and relaxation.

Canary Wharf, the O2 Arena, Westfield Stratford and Excel London are all a short train journey away and offer a vast array of restaurants, cinemas, entertainment, international events and leisure facilities. Further afield but with quick links to the City and West End, you couldn’t be better placed to take advantage of the best of life cosmopolitan London has to offer.

London is home to 300 theatres, 500 cinema screens and 12,000 restaurants. Three of the top ten museums and galleries in the world are in London and there are 857 art galleries in total. Around 250 festivals take place in London every year including Europe's biggest street festival, the Notting Hill Carnival."
That's not Bow, that's East Londonsville, a new amorphous residential zone whose residents are lured in not by what's on the doorstep but by how easy it is to get to somewhere more interesting. For shops, get on the train. For culture, get on the train. For coffee and chi-chi chic, there's a bus to somewhere more aspirational if you can be bothered to take it, but in reality you'll probably end up nipping down to the Tesco Express for a pizza and some lagers. As a post-Olympic price-wave sweeps out across the East End, we risk no longer living in communities but in residential bubbles whose residents spend all their cultural time elsewhere.

Anyway, if you're moving in, do enjoy the expensive views from your ex council flat, I'm sure they'll be excellent.

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