Crossrail is coming to town

The new Elizabeth Line is expected to massively increase footfall to the West End. Simon Creasey reports on what the capital’s biggest landlords are doing to make the most of the opportunities it presents.

Crossrail route

The jury is still out about what will happen to retail rents and property values in central London following the opening of Crossrail next year. What we do know with some degree of certainty is that footfall is projected to jump significantly around some stations.

According to projections from Arup, Tottenham Court Road station alone will see its number of daily passengers leap from 87,000 to 306,000 by 2026 – without Crossrail, Arup estimates the number of passengers would have risen to around 150,000 in the same period.

Where there is still a bit of a grey area is where some of the footfall around central London stations on the new Elizabeth Line will flow. Take Bond Street, for instance, which is projected to see passenger numbers increase to more than 220,000 per day from its current level of 155,000.

“The new Crossrail entrances and ticket halls [at Bond Street] will re-route footfall patterns around the northern part of Mayfair,” says Sara Law, associate director in Colliers International’s central London agency team. “We see Davies Street funnelling visitors on to South Molton Street and also anticipate a huge increase of people using Weighhouse Street to link through to the emerging retail pitches of Duke Street and North Audley Street. Following the completion of Crossrail and the associated public realm improvements, the area will be completely transformed.”

Rents on the up

Law says retail brands are already looking to capitalise on opportunities around these streets, which will ultimately push rents up from their current levels (see table). She expects to see similar footfall patterns around the Hanover Square area, which is where the other Bond Street entrance and Crossrail ticket hall will be located.

Some of the capital’s biggest landlords are gearing up to capitalise on these passenger movements and the anticipated uplift in rental levels. Brian Bickell, chief executive at Shaftesbury, believes the arrival of Crossrail will be transformative for the whole of London and particularly the West End.

This is why the company has invested £32m in three schemes that look set to benefit from Crossrail: 57 Broadwick Street at the gateway to Carnaby Street; Thomas Neal’s Warehouse in Seven Dials; and Central Cross, a 48,000 sq ft restaurant and retail development that borders Chinatown to the west and Charing Cross Road to the east.

“Its positive impact is already being felt, with demand for our key West End villages of Chinatown London, Carnaby and Seven Dials very strong as brands seek to establish a presence in readiness for the significant growth in footfall across our streets that the opening of the new West End stations is set to bring,” says Bickell.

The route of the Elizabeth Line has also had a major bearing on investment decisions made by British Land. “Its arrival next year at Liverpool Street station, which lies next door to our Broadgate campus, was a key reason we decided to push forward with the 520,000 sq ft mixed-use development at 100 Liverpool Street. In fact, the station entrance will sit right at the doorstep of the building,” says David Lockyer, head of Broadgate at British Land. “There is absolutely no doubt that the Elizabeth Line is going to make a real difference to those who work and visit our central London campuses – the new line will really improve connectivity to and within London.”

While the precise impact of Crossrail remains uncertain, the property industry is waiting with bated breath for its arrival.