With the arrival of the new Crossrail service imminent in Shenfield, now could be the time to invest in this popular commuter town.
Formerly a village, Shenfield has grown into a bustling commuter hotspot due to its proximity to the City of London and excellent transport links.
Historically well connected, it sits on the old Roman road between London and Colchester (now the A1023) and is soon to host a train station on the end of the Crossrail line.
The current average property price in Shenfield already sits at a hefty £744,000. And the introduction of the new high-frequency trains to London is likely to underpin this further. Properties within walking distance of Shenfield station are likely to be particularly sought-after. You can check the latest prices here.
Living in Shenfield: what to expect
Shenfield may have grown beyond its village boundaries but it's kept its village atmosphere and countryside surroundings.
The main Hutton Road is lined with shops, cafes, banks, beauty salons and takeaway restaurants. Chain stores include Tesco Express, Co-operative Food and Costa. But most outlets are independent, such as the award-winning butcher and delicatessen, Hepburns.
The imminent arrival of Crossrail has spurred investment in the suburb. The area outside the train station is set to be redeveloped into an attractive new piazza, with the existing taxi rank and drop-off point relocated away from the main pedestrian entrance.
Schools are another big draw. Shenfield St Mary’s Church of England Primary School and St Martin’s School were both rated ‘outstanding’ at their last Ofsted inspections. There are also two private schools, Herington House and Brentwood School.
Where to start your property search
In the centre: The property market in Shenfield is dominated by detached and semi-detached houses, which makes it ideal for families.
Flats, however, are hard to come by, with only a couple of small developments of modern blocks and occasional apartments above retail premises. Take a look around Hutton Road for examples.
Period properties are also few and far between. Some 19th-century homes can be found in the old village surrounding St Mary’s Church on Shenfield Road, or there are a few scattered examples on Hutton Road.
However, most of Shenfield’s homes were constructed from the 1920s onwards.
Take almost any of the neat residential roads in town and they will represent a timeline of architectural styles. You can find large 1920-50s semis and detached properties, some with mock-Tudor detailing, standing side by side with more modern 1960-90s homes. Try Worrin Road, Shorter Avenue or Margaret Avenue to get an idea.
Despite strong homebuyer interest, Shenfield is lacking in new homes. However, plans are afoot for a new housing development on an area of land off Alexander Lane, at the outer northern end of the suburb. If approved, the development could include up to 600 new homes, a park-and-ride facility and two primary schools.
On the outskirts: It’s on the outskirts of Shenfield that you’ll find the more modern homes. Take a look at Woodland Avenue and Rayleigh Road, Hutton Drive, Hanging Hill Lane for comfortable semis and detached properties.
Homes located within the catchment area of St Martin’s School are now particularly sought after, but the most desirable properties are found on the private roads of Hutton Mount, such as Heronway.
Many homes here are mansions with imposing gates, carriage driveways, large gardens and secluded surroundings. But even the smaller properties are priced according to their exclusive addresses.
Getting around Shenfield
By rail: Shenfield train station is located on Hutton Road. Regular services run to London Liverpool Street, with the fastest taking under 25 minutes. When the Crossrail Elizabeth Line is fully up-and-running in 2019, there will be 12 trains an hour running to and from central London at peak times.
Also available from Shenfield station are services to Braintree, Ipswich, Colchester, Southend Victoria and Clacton-on-Sea. Among the stops on routes from Shenfield are Romford and Chelmsford, which are also popular destinations for commuters.
By car: Shenfield sits just a mile or two south of the A12, which heads straight into east London. With good traffic, central London can be reached in around an hour.
The M25 is almost immediately accessible via the A12 at Junction 28 for journeys to other parts of the city and country. To the north east, the A12 passes through Chelmsford, Colchester and Ipswich, and continues on through Suffolk to the coastal town of Lowestoft.
By air: Shenfield residents have their pick of airports. For domestic and European flights, London Stansted and London Southend are both just 30 minutes away by car. London City Airport can be reached in around 40 minutes.
For international flights, Heathrow and Gatwick airports are an hour’s drive away.
Things to do in Shenfield
Cultural: Shenfield itself doesn't have a theatre or cinema. However, residents can catch the latest films at The Brewery shopping and leisure centre in Romford or see a play or musical at the nearby Brentwood Theatre. The Queen’s Theatre in Hornchurch is also within easy reach.
And central London is only a 30-minute train ride away for plenty more arts, culture and heritage attractions.
Outdoors: Shenfield’s position right on the edge of the Essex countryside makes escaping to the country particularly easy.
As well as the fields, woods and country lanes just the other side of the main Chelmsford Road (A1023), there's also Thorndon Country Park in nearby Warley. It offers miles of walking, running or cycling, as well as a Gruffalo Trail where hand-carved wooden characters from the children’s book are hidden in the ‘Deep Dark Wood’ for families to find.
Sports: Shenfield Cricket Club, founded in 1921, is also located off the Chelmsford Road. It welcomes players of all abilities, including young players for its 'Colts' team. Alternatively, the Hutton Cricket Club, founded in 1864, is close by in Hutton.
Hutton Football Club – a highly regarded grass-roots amateur club – also plays here, as well as at a variety of youth training grounds across the area.
The Brentwood Centre, just two miles away, offers a wide choice of sports facilities. These include gym, racket sports, fitness and martial arts classes, a Wellbeing Centre and an Aqua Centre, with an adult pool and a toddler pool.
For golf, head to Hartswood or Thorndon Park golf clubs which are two miles and three miles away from Shenfield respectively.
Shopping: As well as the local shops that line Hutton Road, residents can also shop at the weekly country market which is held every Friday morning at the Shenfield Parish Hall. At Christmas, the town also hosts its own festive market selling original gifts and food.
Brentwood, just a couple of miles up the road from Shenfield, has a much bigger high-street with brands such as New Look, WHSmith and Next. For major shopping centres, Westfield in Stratford and Lakeside in Thurrock are a short drive or train journey away.
Food and drink: Shenfield has a handful of family-run restaurants to try. One of the most popular is the Lot Bar & Restaurant. It serves everything from breakfast to dinner, including an attractive tapas menu. Try a butternut squash and sage risotto with pan-fried sea bass or opt for a Cajun chicken breast with fries and salad.
Friendly gastro-pubs such as The Rose are also on hand to feed and water locals. The recently-refurbished pub offers a menu filled with traditional pub classics as well as a hearty roast Sunday lunch.
Ye Olde Green Dragon on Shenfield Road is a 16th-century coaching inn once used as a halfway house between London and Southend. Horse-drawn coaches may no longer stop here but the pub is charmingly frozen in time.
6 reasons to live in Shenfield
Within easy reach of London, Chelmsford and Romford
Upcoming connection to the new Crossrail service
Plenty of large family homes
Countryside on your doorstep
Thriving high street with plenty of amenities
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Could Shenfield be the ideal commuter base for you? Share your thoughts in the comments below…