EnglandLondonWaltham Forest
Waltham Forest

The London Borough of Waltham Forest

Green open spaces, a lively town centre and a booming property market make this still-affordable borough one to watch. So what’s it really like to live in Waltham Forest?

“…the borough leaves behind the rush of the City for the slower pace of a suburban life, punctuated by the buzz of Walthamstow”

Moving to Waltham Forest

Home to a favourite hunting lodge of Tudor Queen Elizabeth I back in the 1500s, Waltham Forest was once the site of a vast stretch of woodlands, as the name suggests.

These days, wandering through the well-paved streets, past colourful shop awnings and tidy green spaces, it is easy to see why the London Borough of Waltham Forest attracts a culturally diverse mix of residents. Skirting the north-east side of London, the borough leaves behind the rush of the City for the slower pace of a suburban life, punctuated by the buzz of Walthamstow. Large Pakistani, Polish and Jamaican communities can be found here, giving the borough an international feel that’s furthered by its rapidly improving dining scene with an array of different cuisines represented.

Traditionally popular with retired couples and young families, the borough has several high achieving primary schools, as well as 500 acres of green space such as Lee Valley Regional Park offering plenty of room for children to play and explore in the great outdoors. Recently, young professionals have begun flocking to the area to take advantage of the affordable house prices and opportunities here, with a high number of small businesses and low unemployment rates. Central Walthamstow is a key hub for younger residents, with direct access to central London on the Victoria line for easy commuting and the best retail offerings in the borough.

Waltham Forest is still among the most deprived boroughs in London, with a child poverty rate of 35%, although the situation has improved significantly since 2010 with the borough falling 20 places on the list of the UK’s most deprived areas. The council are continuing to invest in the borough, particularly in lower income areas, with new housing developments and improvements to existing services.

House Prices in Waltham Forest

As of 2017, the average property price in the borough is around £450,000, significantly lower than the London average despite a jump of 10% in the last year alone. In the same period other, more traditionally popular London boroughs fell in price by up to 15%, showing just how much of  a property hotspot Waltham Forest is becoming, particularly in central Walthamstow.

“Walthamstow is a key hub for younger residents, with direct access to central London on the Victoria line for easy commuting and the best retail offerings in the borough”

Transport

Good transport links are a big draw for commuters living in the borough, with the Victoria line on the London Underground at Walthamstow Central and the Central line at Leyton and Leytonstone taking residents swiftly into Central London. Other areas in the borough are served by the Overground and National Rail links, while for drivers the A12 and North Circular run through the south and centre of the borough respectively.

Lifestyle

The dining scene in the London Borough of Waltham Forest has improved greatly over the last few years, particularly in Walthamstow. Great recent additions include Sodo Pizza Cafe, Yard Sale Pizza and British restaurant Eat 17, while Caribbean dishes from Jerk Hut are a must-try for spice fans. Good gastropubs are also scattered around the area, with The Castle E17, Ye Olde Rose and Crown and The Flower Pot all highly-recommended by locals. In the southern end of the borough, Leyton also offers a reasonable selection of restaurants, including Masak Malaysian Kitchen, Oceano Restaurant, and Middle Eastern cafe Anatolia.

For those seeking an interesting addition to their art collection, Walthamstow is home to cult favourite God’s Own Junkyard, who create custom neon lighting. Other shopping opportunities in Waltham Forest are rather lacking, with most residents making do with The Mall Walthamstow shopping centre for necessities from Boots, TK Maxx and JD Sports, then travelling to the vast Westfield Stratford City for a proper shopping session.

Groceries

For keen home cooks, branches of most major supermarket chains can be found in Waltham Forest including Sainsbury’s, Asda, and a number of Tesco Superstores as well as smaller Express stores. Central Walthamstow is also home to a number of international supermarkets and halal butchers to cater to the international community.

Health & Sport

Fitness facilities in Waltham Forest are relatively limited compared to other boroughs, although there are a number of reasonable council-run services such as Walthamstow Leisure Centre and Sylvestrian Leisure Centre, as well as a branch of Bannatyne’s Health Club and studios dedicated to MMA, Pilates, Yoga and Boxing.

Culture

Despite being the original home of the Arts and Crafts Movement under William Morris, cultural life in Waltham Forest is currently rather limited. The sole theatre in the borough, Waltham Forest Theatre, was demolished in 2011, and as a result the two main cultural attractions of the area are the Vestry House Museum and the William Morris Gallery. For cinephiles, there is the large Empire Cinema in Walthamstow, and the borough is also home to a number of artists and independent galleries.

“Schools in Waltham Forest are continuing to improve, and there are a selection of good establishments for parents with children in education”

Schools and Education

Schools in Waltham Forest are continuing to improve, and there are a selection of good establishments for parents with children in education. With above 95% of pupils achieving expected levels in English and Maths, Yardley Primary School, Jenny Hammond Primary School and Longshaw Primary School are among the best primary schools in the borough. For older children, Connaught School for Girls, Norrington School for Boys and the Holy Family Technology College are some of the leading secondary schools in the borough, whilst Forest School is a sought-after independent option.

Safety

Waltham Forest is a relatively safe borough, although crime rates here are slightly above the London average at around 100 crimes per 1000 people as of 2012. Theft & Handling, Violence and Burglary are the most common crimes committed in Waltham Forest.

Green Space

There are over 500 acres of green space to be found in the London Borough of Waltham Forest, particularly in the north and along the reservoirs to the west. A number of parks, including Hollow Ponds and Wanstead Flats, are part of the great expanse of Epping Forest, while there is also pretty Local Nature Reserve at Ainslie Wood in Chingford.

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