Southend, domination by London commuters and the threat to local identity
On April 5th the Evening Standard reported that house prices ‘rise by £3,000 a minute as you approach central London by train’. “Living just 20 seconds further away from one of London’s major transport hubs can shave an average of £1,000 off the cost of a home, according to research by estate agents Savills.” Housing costs in Faversham, my hometown, have risen by 26% over the last five years and by 39% over the last ten years.
This in tonight’s Evening Standard
Southend is not just London extended
Readers of the Evening Standard who live in Southend-on-Sea will have enjoyed Ruth Bloomfield’s jolly article [“Home for tea and a dip in less than an hour”, Homes and Property, April 20]. They will probably feel proud to be part of the “influx of London commuters … breathing new life” into our erstwhile “old-fashioned Essex seaside town”.
However, Southenders, especially those under 40 and working locally, may not enjoy the “impressive price rises” quite so much as they save to buy a home for their families. They may also feel their part of Southend is under invasion as small businesses are being forced to close and are being replaced by growing battalions of estate agents and solicitors’ offices greedily jacking up house prices.
I love living in Southend precisely because, unlike London, it does not have lots of dress shops and wine bars — instead, we have specialist and idiosyncratic shops. I enjoy the company of characters I see every day, most of whom do not enjoy yachting, tennis, horse riding or going to art classes.
This is my home — and I hope it will be for many years to come.
Local identity matters.