Aldgate is the entry-level gateway to the City
Aldgate is the entry-level gateway to the City

Published The Times May 18 2012.

Here is the alternative for those priced out of London’s more übercool suburbs - though it still has the builders in

There were seven gates in London’s old city walls and Aldgate was the one to the east. Long since gone, the gate’s name lingers in two Tube stations, a few roads and the ward of Aldgate in the City.

Aldgate, a London neighbourhood which includes Aldgate East Tube station, is divided into two. On the City side, there are the architectural statement buildings, such as 30 St Mary Axe, otherwise known as The Gherkin. Meanwhile, the Tower Hamlets side has always been more shabby, although historical. The Hoop and Grapes pub, a timber-framed building built in the late 16th century, survived the Great Fire of London.

But all that looks set to change as developers have started to invest heavily in mixed-use blocks. Dotted in among them are some quirky period buildings, such as the Chandlery and Steam Mills, where two-bedroom flats recently sold for £395,000 and £425,000 respectively. Aldgate is poised to regenerate rapidly in the next decade and slough off the recession sooner than some other London Cinderella locales. The area is the site of key developments by some of the largest names in housebuilding.

Where is it?

East of the City, north of the iconic Tower Bridge and Tower of London, west of Whitechapel and south of the neighbourhoods of Spitalfields and Shoreditch. It’s also close to Brick Lane, the epicentre of East London cool, with highlights such as the Old Truman Brewery, a complex of markets, cafés and art galleries.

How do you get there?

Surrounded by travel connections, the area is well served. There’s Tower Hill, Aldgate and Aldgate East for the Underground, Fenchurch Street and nearby Liverpool Street stations for eastern mainline connections and eventually Crossrail. The Tower Gateway DLR takes you to Canary Wharf and London City Airport. Aldgate bus station services seven bus routes and two night buses.

What’s new?

Above Aldgate East Tube station there is the sad site of a half-finished concrete shell of a building. Wayne Rooney was reported to be among the Formation Group’s financial losers when the development hit the buffers in the wake of the Icelandic bank crash in November 2008. Redrow bought the project earlier this year and has relaunched the 21-storey, 137-property development as One Commercial Street. More big names, Barratt Homes and the L&Q housing association, are behind Altitude, a 27-storey apartment building on Alie Street; prices here will start at £428,000. Berkeley Homes is releasing 59 apartments at 75 Leman Street, where two-bedroom flats are priced at £775,000. These luxury homes are part of the phased development of the 7-acre Goodman’s Fields. North of Aldgate East Tube station, the Brutalist concrete Denning Point tower on Commercial Street is due for refurbishment in a joint venture between Telford Homes and Eastend Homes. With some social housing planned, there will be 128 private apartments for sale.

Who lives there?

Popular with City professionals and investors, buyers are the urban singles who have been priced out of Spitalfields and Shoreditch. International buyers unfamiliar with London’s micro-neighbourhoods are still wary of its down-at-heel look.

What is the high street like?

There are three very different kinds of shopping to be had nearby: St Katharine Docks (Waitrose included); the City’s new glossy shopping centres, One New Change and Royal Exchange; and Spitalfields Market. The Old Truman Brewery, Brick Lane and Petticoat Lane markets draw crowds, while Whitechapel High Street offers more familiar shops along with remnants of the rag trade.

Eating and drinking They queue around the block to eat at Tayyabs Punjabi restaurant in Whitechapel and a short walk away are all the famous curry houses of Brick Lane. Spitalfields market has a broad mix of eateries, including the lovingly created English Restaurant (formerly the Market Coffee House), which has a French chef, or the Michelin-starred French restaurant La Chapelle, one of the Galvin Restaurants collection, which has an English chef.

How is the nightlife?

Brick Lane, Spitalfields and Shoreditch are popular night-time haunts and even the City has a few late-night spots.

What about the cultural life?

Try the Barbican Centre for highbrow, Wilton’s Music Hall for lowbrow. Spitalfields’s music festival is held in Hawksmoor’s Christ Church in June.

Is there any green space?

None at all, unless you count the grassy moat surrounding the Tower of London. Victoria Park is the nearest greenery. River walks along the Thames Path are your best bet for open space.

What are the schools like?

Sir John Cass’s Foundation Primary School is a Church of England school rated “outstanding” by Ofsted. Fee payers can apply to the mixed St Paul’s Cathedral School until 13 or for secondary education try the City of London School for Boys or City of London School for Girls, which are within walking distance.

What is there to do?

Modern art lovers have the Whitechapel Gallery as well as White Cube in Hoxton Square and the Tate Modern a stroll away.

Upsides Cheaper than the übercool Spitalfields and Shoreditch.

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