11 April, 2014
With constant talk of new developments, it's an exciting time to live in Wokingham. The impending introduction of the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) should make things move forward quickly too, and it's the area's residents who will benefit.
Not every development is in the hands of Wokingham Borough Council, however. Large-scale projects elsewhere could also have a significant impact on the town, with Crossrail a particularly hot topic at the moment.
What is Crossrail?
Crossrail is the largest infrastructure scheme of its kind in Europe. Once finished, it will comprise 73 miles of new railway line serving London and its surrounding towns and villages. After decades of planning and proposals, work began in 2009 and is expected to finish in 2019.
Eventually, more than 40 stops will be connected by Crossrail, many of which are being built specifically for the project. One end of the line will be in the Brentford suburb of Shenfield, with the other now set to be located in Reading.
The ever-expanding commuter zone
There's little doubt that Crossrail will be a positive step for those travelling in and out of London - it should help to bring more business to the area too - but how will the South East's property markets be affected?
Wokingham is one area that should be watching the developments closely. It was announced recently that one of the 40+ stops on the route will be located just five miles away in Twyford, despite original plans suggesting the line would go no further than Maidenhead.
So as more people begin to see Twyford as a viable commuter zone, the demand for its property will no doubt grow, with prices pushed up as a result. Not only will more people be looking to move there, those people are likely to have more earning potential as average wages in the centre of London are higher.
The domino effect
While Wokingham is relatively close to Twyford, not everyone will consider six miles to be everyday 'walking distance', so it's unlikely that we'll see a new wave of commuters moving to the Berkshire market town. That said, there's every chance that the rising prices in Twyford will push many of its existing residents to leave in search of somewhere cheaper and perhaps quieter; Wokingham being the most obvious alternative.
Of course, Wokingham is already considered by many to be a highly desirable place to live. Studies show that the standard of living enjoyed by the area's residents is, on average, considerably higher than elsewhere in the country. With infrastructure improvements in the town's own pipeline as well, there's every chance that demand will increase and prices will rise there too.
According to the official Crossrail website, the new project will "transform rail transport in London". This is more than likely true - it will have a huge impact - but it's also important to think about the indirect effect it's likely to have on England's South East. Twyford will feel the full force but towns like Wokingham should also be prepared for change.