LSE Research asks how the franchise has affected the town’s identity
How the arrival of Crossrail and a shifting demographic of commuters may be linking Brentwood more closely to London.
Brentwood, alongside other towns in Essex can experience something of an identity crisis when it comes to the question ‘is it part of London?’ Located outside of the M25 and within the Borough of Brentwood, there is no doubt that this suburban town is part of Essex and can be described as simply enjoying proximity to the capital. However, since Transport for London, or TFL Rail took over Brentwood station in 2015, this change in branding has blurred the lines so much so that the London School of Economics has carried out research to determine how strongly Brentwood’s residents feel attached to the capital.
Since 2015, TFL Rail branding is visible across Brentwood as well as Shenfield before both prepare to join Crossrail’s The Elizabeth line when it opens. The Oyster Card boundaries have been extended to accommodate both stations and it’s even forecast that the borough may eventually become incorporated as an outer region of the capital.
However, the drawing up of transportation lines is not enough to create a shift of attitude amongst residents. Research conducted by LSE shows that for now at least, Brentwood’s residents feel strongly that they belong in Essex rather than the capital. A whopping 90% of locals agreed with the statement that Brentwood is part of Essex. However, to confuse matters, 50% of respondents to the LSE survey did agree with the idea that the presence of TFL Rail may have an impact on the identity of local residents and in a separate question, 50% also agreed that the introduction of Crossrail to the area has allowed Brentwood residents to feel a greater sense of belonging towards London than they have previously.
Of course, the change in demographic may play a part in this as since it was announced that Crossrail would be putting Brentwood on the map, increasing numbers of Londoners have chosen to move here as they’ve been attracted by the appeal of this town alongside the promise of rapid journey times into the capital and out to the neighbouring counties west of London. The arrival of former Londoners who are now choosing to commute back into the capital means that these new residents already feel a strong connection to London which could affect the identity of Brentwood in the long run.
When speaking to longterm residents of Brentwood, only 21% had grown up in the capital but many more revealed that their families had previously been located in the traditional Cockney East End and migrated out into Essex which is a pattern that has been followed since at least the Second World War.
For now at least, it seems that local residents feel that Brentwood belongs firmly in Essex, although the arrival of the TFL Rail franchise has made this question worth asking and it will be interesting to see if we feel more strongly connected to the capital in a few years’ time.
If you’re attracted to the excellent commuter journey times promised by the Elizabeth line, then why not come and have a look around Brentwood and you can fall in love with this local Essex town for yourself! Contact our professional estate agent Brentwood team today!