Old Street (aka Silicon Roundabout) has long been the home of the British tech scene, but things look set to change over the next few years.
Are Whitechapel And Stratford Set To Knock Old Street Off Its Tech Perch?
Old Street (aka Silicon Roundabout) has long been the home of the British tech scene, but things look set to change over the next few years. Interesting news for those who work in the tech sector – there may soon be many new job opps on the East side of London.
For years now, the London tech startup scene has been dominated by one place only – Old Street. The area was even dubbed the British equivalent of Silicon Valley, albeit with a roundabout in its moniker instead – known either as “East London Tech City” or “Old Street Roundabout“. Lately, however, there has been talk of change in the air of East London, as Stratford and Whitechapel look set to give EC1V a run for its money.
When the British tech industry started to call Old Street home, this part of East London was both run down and rough. Rents were low thanks to the recession wiping out many of the architectural firms that had offices there and tech startups were then encouraged into the area. However, quite how this happened remains somewhat of a mystery, as the vast majority of the buildings within the area didn’t even have access to fibre optic cabling at the time.
To say that things are a little different as we head towards the end of 2015 would possibly be considered as one of the greatest understatements of the century. Finding a property to fit your company into (regardless of size) is nigh on impossible and as a result the rents in the Old Street area have skyrocketed. This explosion in rental charges has made Old Street completely unaffordable for the types of businesses that once propelled the area into the stratosphere.
Where to Now for the Young Guns of the British Tech Industry?
Well, two places are currently being touted as the next big things in the sector – Stratford and Whitechapel.
Stratford has, like Old Street, seen something of a renaissance over the last decade thanks largely to the 2012 Olympic Games. The area now has almost unrivalled transport links and the rent here is not too prohibitive either. London property investment companies have built some remarkable properties in the area and the current going rate is estimated to be under £40 per square foot.
Living accommodation is also well catered for in Stratford as developments have been springing up in the area since around 2009. Demand is gathering pace, however, so expect prices to rise in the near future. Just the last year alone has seen an increase in demand of 60 per cent for residential accommodation. Stratford is also very well connected on both underground and overground train lines.
For many property investors, it is a mystery why Whitechapel has exploded sooner. However, thanks to the increasing interest from the tech sector, this looks set to change in the not too distant future. Office space is still remarkably cheap here considering its close proximity to the city. Good quality offices can still be picked up for as little as £35 per square foot if you know where to look.
More important than cost, however, is the amount of likeminded firms situated around the Whitechapel area. Plenty of FinTech startups have already settled here and there are any number of other accelerators and venture capitalists nearby.
As for living in Whitechapel, with the arrival of Crossrail set to land in 2018, many property investors have already begun to buy residential properties in the area. That being said, there are still some bargains to be had in this part of town and with the way that the rest of Tower Hamlets is performing, Whitechapel looks like a safe bet for those who wish to call it home.