With the new Acton Gardens development aiming to create a vision of New York in west London, Acton is the latest part of the capital to shake off its unfashionable image and find itself on the rise…
Words: Will Gore
Pretty soon there won’t be any corners of west London that are deemed undiscovered, and Acton is the latest part of the capital to shake off its unfashionable image and find itself on the rise. As is the story across much of London, it’s families and young professionals flocking to the area in their droves.
One of the places hoovering up these newcomers, as well as providing new options for current residents, is Acton Gardens, the redevelopment of Britain’s largest housing estate, that will comprise more than 2,500 new homes by the time all of its 21 phases are completed in 2026. A selection of family townhouses and swanky apartments in the 52-acre site are currently up for grabs.
When trying to sell their grand plans to potential buyers and the public at large, developers often trumpet the importance of building a community and the blurb that has gone along with the building of Acton Gardens is no different.
Mike Woolliscroft, director for Countryside, who are partnered with fellow developers L&Q and the London Borough of Ealing to create Acton Gardens, tells me the local community in Acton and potential purchasers of the new homes have played a key role in plans to foster that coveted community spirit in the shiny new development.
Since the beginning we’ve been working with local people. They said they wanted us to create better facilities and amenities, and to create better connections to key services
‘Since the beginning we’ve been working with local people – they’ve had a large say in how the area will be developed,’ he says. ‘They said they wanted us to create better facilities and amenities, and to create better connections to key services including the high street and the stations. In response we are doing exactly that. We’re building a hub in the centre with a public square, shops and medical facilities.’
Woolliscroft says that families and young professionals are flocking to Acton because ‘they can get more for their money compared to neighbouring postcodes’. They will also be drawn, he hopes, by the green spaces that are a key part of the development, with inspiration for this aspect of the grand design coming from across the Atlantic and the city that never sleeps.
‘Lots of residential buildings in New York overlook traditional, tree-lined streets and a communal park square; we have taken inspiration from this within our layout of the development, creating vibrant urban quarters with landscaped areas and parks,’ Woolliscroft explains.
‘Green open space plays a vital role at Acton Gardens, with the homes being designed around a series of new parks, squares and communal gardens, featuring extensive landscaping, play areas and allotments. The outdoor spaces are designed to create social places for people to relax and enjoy, where pedestrians have priority and community interaction is encouraged.’
Away from Acton Gardens, there is already plenty of other green spaces for the town’s residents to run free in. As well as wide-open space, Acton Park also has a playground, ponds, a bowling green, and tennis courts to take advantage of. Pubs and restaurants are plentiful, too, with ones to try including wine bar Vindinista.
And, of course, Acton wouldn’t be an up and coming area without a microbrewery – the Dragon Fly Brewery fulfills that requirement in style. There’s also Acton Market, open for business from Wednesday to Saturday.
Schools are another reason why families are moving to Acton, as it has its fair share of good ones. Derwentwater Primary School and Berrymede Junior School are popular primary choices, while secondary schools include Twyford Church of England High School and Acton High School.
While life in Acton is clearly buzzing, one of the major perks that draws people to the area is its ridiculously good transport links. Tube services are available from East Acton, North Acton, West Acton and Acton Central stations, while Overground services call at Acton Central and South Acton. By 2019, Acton main line station will be hooked up to the long-awaited Crossrail network too.
This is the place where the first ever Waitrose store opened (it was called Waite, Rose and Taylor). So it seems, as it becomes more gentrified, Acton is coming full circle.