People are sometimes suspicious of the brand new. It has no soul, they say, no depth, no culture.
If you enter East Village in Stratford (once the Olympic Village now turned residential development) you may arrive at just this conclusion. Shiny new apartment blocks surround a Teletubbies mound of green grass. It is quiet, clean and largely deserted. It feels somewhat ominous to enter a place so tranquil when just outside is the hustle and bustle of Stratford proper; it’s like entering the eye of the storm.
Get Living London
But take a walk around the place and it slowly begins to reveals itself.
Most of the shops that populate the ground floors of the apartment blocks have yet to open. But the few that have hint towards a thriving, independent-minded collective of stores that will become the beating heart of the ‘village.’
Get Living London, the East Village landlords, came to a very positive and brave decision early on: to make sure the majority of the retail units will be assigned to start-ups and independents. They decided to turn their backs on the lure of long term leases and security from big name chains and brands. If more developers and landlords thought the same way we might see the ghost towns slide away.
Signorelli is a good example. Part bakery, part café, it feels fresh and original, with a clean Scandinavian interior despite the Italian name.
Alberto Rosmini set up Signorelli with his girlfriend and opened the doors two months ago.
So why choose here to set up shop? ‘Look out of the window’ Rosmini responds.
“It’s a pedestrian area. I’m an Italian and for me the centre of each city is pedestrian space. This is a family friendly and pleasant area. It’s south facing, there’s a pond with ducks opposite.”
He pauses to think then says laughingly “Is this even London?"
Get Living London also decided there shouldn’t be too much overlap between the stores. Two doors down a bicycle shop will soon open, next door a baby clothes store and further down an ice-cream parlour.
It is precisely this that makes the place a village in its truest sense of the term. When you picture a village you might envisage a chocolate-box idyll with centuries of heritage behind it.
And of course, East Village could not look more different to this but underneath the shiny new façade lies the inner workings of a very traditional village where independent shops fulfil specific needs of the community.
Is this even London?Signorelli co-owner, Alberto Rosmini
Get Living London went to the vibrant hotspots of East London such as Daslton in Hackney to lure some of the more idiosyncratic pop ups to East Village; a wise move if they want the area to become not only a residential hub but a destination in its own right.
Take, for example, Tina, We Salute You, a bizarrely named café on a slightly scuzzy but up and coming street in Dalston. The good people behind this Dalston success story have now setup Tina 2 in the East Village.
For the second coming, they have imported their singular aesthetic to the more salubrious surrounds of East Village but while it remains a café by day, in the evening it becomes a bar.
Steve Hawkes, Tina’s co-owner, says, “This is fairly different from Tina’s in Dalston. East Village is not like London, it’s uber London, it’s its own little world.”
The residents appear to be a fairly mixed bunch. While there is an element of those who have been pushed further out of London due to rent hikes, Steve points out there is another, perhaps unexpected type moving in here.
He says, “There have been quite a few people who have moved back to the city. They originally moved out of London to get more space when they had children but have come to miss the city. With its green spaces, East Village is an easy place to move back to if you’re coming from the countryside.”
Guardian Interview with New Residents:
East Village is not like London, it’s uber London, it’s its own little world.Tina 2's co-owner, Steve Hawkes
The 24 Hr Tube Comes to Stratford (soon!)
In recent research conducted by Dataloft on behalf of SellMyHome.co.uk, Stratford was singled out as an area that will significantly go up in value with the arrival of the Night Tube.
Not only will it make it a more viable place to live if you still want to go out late in Central London without worrying how to get back in the early hours but, with vibrant bars like Tina’s opening, it allows East Village to become a late night hotspot for those who live elsewhere.
Ultimately, the success of East Village relies on the quality of its shops, cafes, bars and restaurants. Replace Tina’s with a Wetherspoons and Signorelli with a Greggs and you’ve immediately created another identikit slice of soulless modernity. Populate the area with exciting and original independents and you are suddenly looking at a much more thrilling prospect, even if the architecture remains the same. If the few stores currently open are anything to go by, East Village has a promising future.
Research & Opinion
Just around the corner from the East Village is Ward Road, the home of another development where SellMyHome.co.uk recently sold a property and also found the new buyers a tenant using our sister site online lettings agent RentMyHome.co.uk. Our vendor had been renting the property out to young professionals and that is exactly who is moving in again showing the demand for this area in that 25-35 market that can create such a vibrant atmosphere in an a village.