Map out your future: river bus services from London Eye to Woolwich

Buy one of thousands of new waterfront flats, forget Tube strap hanging and commute by river bus for a guaranteed seat and free wifi.
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Riverside living continues to cast a spell over home buyers. Today more people live alongside the central section of the Thames, from Wandsworth to Woolwich, than at any time in the capital’s history.

Thousands more new homes are in the pipeline, particularly on the south side of the river, where regeneration is improving the draw of neighbourhoods once shunned by better-off buyers.

Nine Elms alone, in a district larger than Hyde Park, is getting 16,000 new homes on former industrial land between Vauxhall and Chelsea Bridges. Another 10,000 homes are earmarked for Greenwich Peninsula, while Royal Docks further east, a vast waterfront zone the size of Venice, has potential for many more.

Transport for London estimates that 100,000 homes will be built in riverside districts during the next decade. It says the Thames is an underused transport artery and the spread of housing justifies improved river bus services, with piers linking the major residential hubs to make it much easier for people to get to and from work. TfL has unveiled an action plan to extend routes and double riverboat passenger numbers to 12 million a year by 2020. 

New piers have opened at Imperial Wharf in Fulham and St George Wharf, Vauxhall. Coming later this year are piers at Battersea Power Station and Plantation Wharf in Wandsworth. Others are planned for Somerset House, Oxo Tower, Convoys Wharf in Deptford and Enderby Wharf, Greenwich, where a cruise liner terminal is also being built. Bermondsey, Charlton, Silvertown and Thamesmead may also get piers.


River bus routes explained
There are two main river bus routes, with 19 piers in all, along Thames central — Putney to Blackfriars via Chelsea Harbour, and from the London Eye to Woolwich via Canary Wharf. There is also a Vauxhall to Bankside Tate-to-Tate service, while a spur from Rotherhithe to Canary Wharf links two areas of Docklands either side of the river. Thames Clippers is the main commuter operator, with a fleet of 13 covered vessels.

Boats depart from central London piers every 20 minutes. You are guaranteed a seat and there is free wifi on board, plus a Costa Coffee kiosk. Adult single tickets cost from £3.60 to £6.70. Oyster card passengers get a 10 per cent discount, and with an annual season ticket the cost is £2 per trip. Putney to Blackfriars takes 42 minutes, and London Bridge to Canary Wharf is 13 minutes.


Head to the pier:
the riverbus route from London Eye to Royal Arsenal Woolwich

Amenities count
Better river transport is an extra incentive to buy a home at a waterfront development, and demand has never been so strong, says estate agent Knight Frank, which sells homes at more than 50 schemes along the river. Planners want to avoid the sterile neighbourhoods with no shops that spoiled the first wave of Docklands regeneration 30 years ago. Alluring glass-clad flats have large terraces and winter gardens for year-round living, while the Thames Path is being upgraded with new promenades and public spaces.

Prices tend to be lower east of Tower Bridge. Docklands is cheaper because it is slightly disconnected from central London. Yet if you want to live in a waterfront setting, it has some of the most dramatic riverscapes. From his flat at Royal Arsenal Riverside, Woolwich, IT worker Kevin Lasitz, 49, can see the river bus arriving to take him to work. “I know exactly when to head down to catch the boat. It’s my favourite way to travel, taking 10 minutes to get to my office at North Greenwich.”

River-view flats start from about £350,000 at the listed former munitions factory where 2,000 homes have been completed and another 3,000 are coming during the next 10 years. Gun Carriage Mews is a warehouse conversion offering apartments with double-height, vaulted ceilings, exposed brickwork and beams, from £550,000. Next phase is Kinetic, a 20-storey tower above a new Crossrail station. Call 020 8331 7130.

At Greenwich, with its rich maritime heritage, riverside industrial land either side of the town centre is being unlocked for homes. It’s a place to look for good-value flats. The River Gardens, formerly Lovell’s Wharf, occupies a dramatic bend in the river. The bright green laser marking the Meridian Line from the Royal Observatory cuts through the 12-acre site. Apartment blocks stand at right angles to the river and are separated by waterside squares and gardens, tennis courts and a landscaped promenade. This design means there is no obvious front or rear to the development, and allows open views from all flats. Two-bedroom homes cost from £495,000. Call 020 3747 6111.

Warehouse wonders
Rotherhithe is a handy halfway point between Canary Wharf and the West End. Check out the area around Canada Water, where a giant new district is under way. Rotherhithe Street is lined with warehouse schemes 25 per cent cheaper than Shad Thames. For bankers, there is a quick river bus shuttle service across the river to Canary Wharf from Hilton Docklands pier.

Marine Wharf, with 454 homes, seeks to raise the design bar and pick up on the area’s industrial heritage. Interlinking apartment blocks with central courtyards are clad in warm brick and rusty steel panels. Endeavour House, a new phase, launches this autumn. Call 020 8694 3100.

A price gap is opening up between older flats and fancy new ones, but location still drives cost. Benbow House, a 15-year-old scheme next to Tate Modern at Bankside, usually has a waiting list of buyers. About £1.2 million is the entry price for two bedrooms.

Several new riverside skyscrapers are being built along the Southwark waterfront. These include One Blackfriars and South Bank Tower, where prices start at £695,000. Call 020 3267 1048.

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