Lead image: Beaulieu, Chelmsford (courtesy of Countryside Properties)
Essex might come pre-loaded with stereotypes and wise-cracks, but there’s no getting away from the fact that the county, just to the north east of the M25, offers up some very fertile commuting territory for those with jobs in the City.
‘Before Essex was a punchline, it was a dream’, writes Tim Burrows in an enlightening piece titled The Invention of Essex in The Guardian, but fads and fashions do have a habit of going full circle, and for Londoners looking for better value per square foot, Essex might just be that dream once more.
In Chelmsford, Essex, the same money would buy you 135 m² (1,453 sq ft). Homebuyers looking to spend this much on a new property could have almost three times more space on average for the same money.
So where, in Essex, should savvy property hunters looking for an easy commute look?
1 Oaklands Hamlet, Chigwell
The historic town of Chigwell, declared ‘the finest place on earth’ by Charles Dickens and made famous by the hit 90s sitcom Birds of a Feather, is probably as close to London as you’re going to get. Located right on the border with Greater London, and within the Epping Forest district, it combines the best of convenience – it’s on the Central Line – with lush green countryside. Take a look at the Oaklands Hamlet development on the outskirts of Chigwell, just 2.5 miles from Hainault tube station on the Central Line and 3.5 miles from Chadwell Heath mainline station, which will soon be serviced by Crossrail. The beautifully landscaped development, set amid 25 acres of public open space, offers new three-to-five bedroom homes with sleek bathrooms, contemporary kitchens, efficient central heating and low-energy lighting. The development will also offer a free shuttle bus to Hainault station for the first three months from legal completion. Prices from £589,995-£849,995.
Five Oaks Lane, Chigwell Essex, IG7 4QP; countrysideproperties.com/oaklands-hamlet
2 Beaulieu, Chelmsford
Beaulieu is a vibrant new district for Chelmsford – a historic settlement edging towards central Essex – offering inspirational architecture, premium housing and its own community infrastructure. Set around the majestic New Hall School, formerly King Henry VIII’s Tudor palace known as Beaulieu and its estate parkland, the development is a series of neighbourhoods, Beaulieu Oaks, Beaulieu Heath and Beaulieu Keep, each with its own architectural style. Homes range from one bedroom apartments to six bedroom family houses, supported by two new primary schools, a secondary school, community centre, health, sport and retail amenities, as well as parkland. The development is 3.6 miles from Chelmsford City Centre, with direct rail services to London Liverpool Street in around 35 minutes, making it ideal for those who work in the City, and a new railway station on the East Anglian main line expected to be delivered in 2025. Prices from £249,995-£949,995.
North East Chelmsford, Essex CM1 6TD; beaulieu.uk.com
3 Hanbury Place, Broomfield, Chelmsford
Hanbury Place in Broomfield, on the outskirts of the historic city of Chelmsford, is surrounded by green space and protected woodland. The charming collection of traditional new two-to-four bedroom houses are beautifully designed to maximise space and light, with cottage style windows and New England style cladding. With its origins dating back to the Domesday Book, Broomfield is a charming village steeped in history with old farmhouses, modern independent shops and eateries, while Chelmsford itself has a mix of boutique, designer and high street shopping, including a flagship John Lewis store, Everyman Cinema, Civic Theatre and historic market. Located less than three miles from Chelmsford station – with trains that will whizz you into Stratford in 26 minutes and London Liverpool Street in 35 minutes – while bus links connect Hanbury Place with Chelmsford city centre. Prices from £461,995-£649,995.
Hanbury Place Marketing Suite, Hospital Approach, Broomfield, Essex CM1 7WS; countrysideproperties.com/hanbury-place
4 St Luke’s Park, Runwell
St Luke’s Park in Runwell, located about half way between Chelmsford and Southend-on-Sea, is a beautifully landscaped new village with tranquil woodland walks, a carefully refurbished Grade II listed chapel and its very own community facilities. Stretching over 200 acres of land formerly occupied by Runwell Hospital, the development is being built over five phases and has a real focus on sustainable living with A-rated appliances in the kitchen, efficient central heating and low-energy lighting. Homes range from low-maintenance two-bedroom homes ideal for first-time buyers and commuters to luxurious new four and five-bedroom homes with ample gardens. The bright lights of London are only a 40-minute train ride away, and Wickford train station is just over a mile away with regular trains into Stratford (28 minutes) and London Liverpool Street (40 minutes). Prices from £399,995-£674,995.
Runwell Road, Runwell, Essex SS11 7XX; countrysideproperties.com/st-lukes-park & countrysideproperties.com/maple-grange
5 Meadow Rise, Braintree
Just south of Braintree town centre, Meadow Rise is a great one for families. Located a little further from London than the previously mentioned developments (from Braintree station, you can be in Stratford in 52 minutes and London Liverpool Street in an hour), Meadow Rise is surrounded by sweeping countryside views and a number of highly commended schools. The development features a selection of traditionally styled two-to-five bedroom homes with generously proportioned rooms, neutral tones, wood effect Amtico Spacia flooring and luxurious carpets. Braintree is a bustling town surrounded by the beautiful Essex countryside, and the renowned outlet shopping village, Freeport Braintree, is just a short drive from Meadow Rise with shops like Karen Millen and Hugo Boss. With the introduction of the Elizabeth Line from Shenfield, access to Canary Wharf and Heathrow Airport will be considerably easier. Plus, Stansted Airport is just 14 miles away via the A120. Prices from £419,995-£609,995.
London Road, Braintree, Essex CM7 2AS; countrysideproperties.com/meadow-rise
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