Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Britain's newest community: E20 - A place to live, work and stay?


East Village, E20, the newest neighbourhood in London (and the former home to the 2012 Olympic games), may be billed as 'A place to live, work and stay', but the question on my mind when we went to check it out, was, would we want to raise our family here?

Taking into account our Life As It Is, with a six-year-old and a three-year-old, (one at nursery, one at school), and thinking primarily of them, what could living here offer us?




Situated within East Village, the local school, Chobham Academy - run by the Harris Federation - opened in September 2013, and is according to the brochure, a place ‘where learning comes first, aspirations are high and achievement is celebrated’. 

It is also a place that interestingly, caters for nursery to sixth form age children under one roof, although the 3-18 year-olds have a separate playground outdoors. As a mum of two small children, I can't help thinking thank goodness for that.

The Academy has 100 places for nursery and 90 places for reception, extending up to 150 places for year 7. At primary level, there are roughly 30 children per class. Currently, there are either two or three classes per year, but this will increase as the number of children at the school grows. They didn't mention what the overall full capacity could be.

Sowing the East Village seeds were 16 architects from around the globe, each called upon for their individuality. They worked together from the get go, to structure a cleaner, more sustainable community, and to set standards for eco-friendly living across London.



From energy-efficient technologies to water recycling and an emphasis on nurturing the natural environment, East Village is a greener place to live. Literally, it looks it too, although unfortunately, the day we visited, the London smog closed in and somewhat overshadowed that aspect for me. 

It could not however, overshadow the excitement and energy that is so obviously apparent here. The existing community is a very proud people. And when you consider what's on their doorstep, why wouldn't they be? 

A staggering 27 hectares of land, more than 10 hectares of which are new parks, landscaped gardens, public squares, play areas, courtyards, waterways and nature trails, connected by paths for jogging, cycling and walking, are all available.



Our girls had serious amounts of fun at the water play park, where they could easily have spent the entire day running amok. However, there were other things to check out too.

We happened upon the IROKO group, a workshop busy drumming up community spirit, where we were ushered in and made very welcome; each given a drumstick, a djembe and the encouragement to let loose and have a go. The kids thought it was wild.

There was a vintage fair set up which included traditional fete activities with a modern, London twist. A tombola, coconut shy and hook-a-duck, accompanied face painting, human mega scrabble, bicycle powered ice cream and all manner of good food vans. (A special mention for Anna-Mae's macaroni cheese, if you please.. we all thought the 'Mac NOT Crack' van was oh so good).

Talking of food, there are endless options for eating - and shopping in Europe’s largest shopping centre, Westfield Stratford Citywhich is right on the doorstep. Along with a whole host of first class sporting facilities. We stopped to view the swimming pool - noting the impressive vista of the city as well.


And if all this isn't enough, living here offers train links from Stratford Station to St Pancreas is six minutes, and the high speed rail to France.

Keen for this community to flourish is the rental service behind the housing; Get Living London. They invited us into one of the former athletes' homes for a nose (and a scrummy lunch - thank you Travelling Teas - amazing spread, we loved your sandwiches and scones, although I loved your style and panache more).


The home itself was very modern. I did wonder how safe the massively long stair case would be with an adventurous little one like mine... I can imagine they were a good warm up for the athletes? But other than that we found a comfortable, light and airy modern home, with fabulous views of green and city. 

What would it cost to live here then? 
The Get Living London homes start from £340 per week for a one bed apartment, £395 per week for a two bed apartment, £485 per week for a three bed apartment, and £590 per week for a four bed townhouse. 

LIFE AS IT IS BLOG: THE VERDICT
We were invited to spend the day at East Village, and saw it as a great chance to experience the Olympic Athletes’ Village two years on from the games. What we found, was a fresh and exciting place to be: A regeneration for a new generation. A place that offers opportunity and prospect, and has amazing links to central London and the rest of Europe. For a price.

With all the convenience of inner city living, yet with freedom and facilities to boot, this could well be the community you are looking for. I can imagine a London family looking for more space and greenery, would move here and love it.

We were really quite impressed with E20 - even if the particular townhouse we visited was not completely toddler friendly. But would we want to raise our family here? No thanks, we'll stick with living where we are. However, as a childless couple working in London, and making London wages, we would have jumped through hoops for such a brilliant opportunity.



Emma Oliver and the GraceFaith girls were visitors to the East Village, courtesy of Get Living London, for the purpose of this review. For DISCLOSURE & DISCLAIMER, please view my page on LEGAL STUFF