Before the DLR’s extension across the river to Greenwich in 1999, a pedestrian tunnel under the Thames was the only quick route between the gracious old naval town and Docklands. Opened in 1902, the tunnel replaced an unreliable ferry service and allowed dockers living south of the river to reach the shipyards.
Though a convenient enough stroll, it was hardly a modern commuter link. Only when the DLR arrived in Greenwich, and later the Jubilee Tube line, did Canary Wharf bankers land, snapping up elegant Georgian houses bordering the royal park or settling in nearby Regency Blackheath.
It is a fine place to live, cheaper, too, than equivalent inner suburbs such as Highgate in the north or Richmond in the west. East London has no direct comparison.
New Capital Quay, with 980 homes, has been built in a former dock basin close to Cutty Sark DLR station and has a central plaza that has created a new vista of the Thames. Waitrose has opened on site. Two-bedroom apartments are priced from £450,000. Call Galliard on 020 7620 1500.
Extending the DLR further south to Deptford and Lewisham was an inspired transport decision, sparking regeneration that continues to this day. From Greenwich town centre, the DLR runs along an elevated section beside Deptford Creek, an industrial waterway lined with factories and warehouses steadily being redeveloped into smart waterfront apartments.
Coming soon is Bellway’s Creekside Village, a residential scheme wrapping around Trinity Laban, the renowned music and dance conservatoire that boasts showpiece premises designed by Herzog & de Meuron, the Tate Modern extension architects. Another project is The Movement — 181 new homes, student apartments, a hotel, an innovative “bicycle café” and workspaces for start-up businesses. Call Cathedral Group on 020 7566 6460.
Deptford Bridge station links into two new apartment complexes — OneSE8 and The Distillery, where Seager’s gin used to be made. Flats start at £270,000. Call Life Residential on 020 8692 2244.
Lewisham has excellent rail links into central London, while the DLR provides a 15-minute hop to Canary Wharf. A council-led transformation of the town centre is under way, with hundreds of new flats, a new leisure centre, a reconfigured road system and a new bus station and shopping mall.
Riverdale House, an Eighties office building notable for its modernist architectural style, is being converted into 137 flats and will have a hotel-style entrance foyer and rooftop communal terraces. Running alongside the River Ravensbourne, the site includes a Victorian mill with water wheel. Prices from £225,000. Call Galliard on 020 7620 1500.
From £225,000: Riverdale House in Lewisham, left. From £397,000: Galliard’s Lincoln Plaza development in Canary Wharf, right
FOLLOW THE MONEY MEN
On the north bank of the river, the DLR, along with the foot tunnel, emerges at Island Gardens, a surprisingly green area which is also quiet and pleasant, despite the steady trail of day trippers and tourists from Greenwich.
This was a favoured address during the first wave of Isle of Dogs waterfront development, before the rise of Canary Wharf, making it a worthwhile place to look for resales. Check out Cumberland Mills for good-value river-view flats with large terraces. Prices from £485,000.
Lauren Ireland, manager of Savills’ Docklands office, says the area is now being discovered by new generation of young couples and families who like the open space and uplifting river walks.
Parkside Quarter is a new development of 64 flats on the edge of 32-acre Mudchute Park, which has a popular city farm. Prices from £425,000. Call Telford Homes on 020 7531 5219.
From here it takes seven minutes on the DLR to Canary Wharf, where the prospect of Crossrail’s arrival, due in 2018, is spurring buyers to get in early, say estate agents. Journeys to Liverpool Street will take six minutes, to Bond Street eight minutes and to Heathrow 39 minutes.
Dollar Bay is the first of several new skyscrapers coming to this E14 postcode during the next decade and has the advantage of being within the Canary Wharf “halo” — within a 10-minute walk of the 97-acre office complex.
Being built moments from South Quay DLR station, the 31-storey tower has 121 apartments with full-height, glass-walled winter gardens that aim to bring in the light. There will be a 24-hour concierge, a sky lounge and gym plus underground parking and cycle storage. Prices from £435,000. Completion is due in 2017. Call developer Mount Anvil on 0845 077 9069.
Here, too, Galliard’s Lincoln Plaza offers good-value apartments priced from £397,000. Call 020 7620 1500.
West India Quay Apartments is one of the few surviving listed warehouse developments in the Canary Wharf area, and coveted as a result. Characterful flats with exposed brickwork and beams are for rent from £515 a week through Premview Properties. Call 020 8868 3471.
Selling fast: flats at Stratford Central, a new 157-home tower that will be just a minute’s walk from the local DLR station
All of the Docklands Light Railway branch lines pass through Poplar, making it a busy hub on the system. Homes along the route of this eastern section are still relatively cheap by Zone 2 standards but prices are rising fast with focused local regeneration. Stratford basks in post-Olympics glory and continues to attract new businesses and home buyers.
Stratford Central, a new tower with 157 flats, is a one-minute walk from the DLR station and selling fast, despite being at least three years away from completion. Call Telford Homes on 020 7531 5219 for more information.