Since the extension of the western river bus route from Wandsworth to Putney a year ago, there has been a 130 per cent jump in the number of passengers using the commuter service to central London.
The journey takes 42 minutes from Putney to Blackfriars — a boon for City lawyers and bankers — and its popularity explains why Mayor Boris Johnson is so keen to maximise the potential of the Thames as a transport artery.
It is likely that up to 100,000 new homes will be built in riverside districts during the next decade, spurring the Mayor to launch an action plan to extend routes and double the number of riverboat passengers from six million a year to 12 million by 2020.
All this has implications for anyone planning to buy a waterfront home. New locations are opening up and improved river transport should make it much easier to get to and from work. Moreover, this waterfront property boom is already changing the dynamics of the capital’s traditional north-south residential divide.
The south side of the Thames, particularly the section between Waterloo and Wandsworth, is becoming equally coveted, and in some areas property values are nudging ahead of those on the north side.
One reason is the far greater choice of new homes. Lots Road power station is one of only a handful of major development sites on the north side of the river west of Canary Wharf, while there are dozens of projects under way or in the pipeline on the south side, including riverbank towers of glamorous apartments that come with hotel-type amenities.
Just as an earlier wave of developments such as Albion Riverside and Montevetro in Battersea enticed people to cross over from Chelsea and Fulham, the new riverside districts emerging at Vauxhall and Nine Elms are attracting big spenders from Knightsbridge and Mayfair.
IMAGE GALLERY: HOT HOMES AND SOLD PROPERTY PRICES NEAR EVERY PIER FROM PUTNEY TO BLACKFRIARS AND CANARY WHARF
People can buy into a prestige development with a 24-hour concierge, spa, security and underground parking, get a long lease and be only a short hop across the Thames to the centre of London. And they can often enjoy superior views.
“When we set up 10 years ago, the bulk of our business was in the Kensington and Chelsea heartlands. Now at least 50 per cent of deals are at riverside developments,” says Chelsea estate agent Jo Webster.
“The river bus is relaxing and reliable and a nice way to start the day, preferable to being stuck in a traffic jam.
“I use it myself, mostly from Chelsea Harbour to Bankside. It takes roughly the same time as a taxi would, and it’s a lot cheaper.”
Another agent tells the story of a wealthy businessman smitten by a penthouse on the Battersea waterfront. “His lawyer was urging him to go for a house in Belgravia, but the buyer said being on the river was so special. The light and views were fantastic and the apartment had highly desirable lateral space.”
From £899,950: homes at Chelsea Creek are being built alongside the waterways, and on tree-lined avenues and parkland. Call 020 7610 9693
At Chelsea Creek, next to Chelsea Harbour, new navigable canals with moorings are being created. The creek is for the most part a subterranean stream that flows in from the Thames. The new canals and dock will be linked to the tidal Thames via rebuilt locks and a tunnel. Homes are being built alongside the waterways, and on tree-lined avenues and parkland. Prices from £899,950. Call 020 7610 9693 for details.
Riverside addresses along Chelsea Embankment and the Wandsworth waterfront are not conveniently plugged into the Tube network, so the river bus service is a much-needed transport link.
Riverside Quarter in Wandsworth
This scheme is located at the end of Point Pleasant, a former industrial strip that cuts back from the river to the traffic-clogged town centre.
Despite being slightly out on a limb, the scheme has matured into arguably the most attractive of all Wandsworth’s housing estates. Looking across the Thames to leafy Hurlingham, it sits on a bend of the river known as the Wandle Delta, a noted wildlife habitat.
More than 500 flats have been built and there is a residents’ spa, restaurant, art gallery and convenience store plus pleasure boat moorings and a river bus pier. To London Bridge City pier, the journey takes 44 minutes, and to Canary Wharf it is 49 minutes.
Five Riverside, the latest phase, has 99 apartments in a 15-storey glass-clad tower. Prices from £475,000. Call 020 8877 2000. Fraser, the developer, operates a peak-time shuttle bus that transports residents to Putney’s train and Tube stations.
Head to the pier: the riverbus route from Putney to Blackfriars and Canary Wharf
At the foot of Wandsworth Bridge, this development commands values of about £1,100 a square foot, with penthouses priced from £2.2 million. Call 020 7978 4141.
The cluster of developments either side of nearby Battersea Heliport are of varying quality in design, bulk and relationship to the river, and you can pick up resales for about £900 a square foot. Prices top £2,000 a square foot along the central stretch of Thames between Westminster and Chelsea Bridges, and drop to about £1,200 to £1,400 on the Battersea waterfront, which translates as about £1.5 million for a good-size two-bedroom flat.
This project sitting alongside Royal Festival Hall on the Waterloo waterfront, is set to become a fashionable new address. After a seven-month public inquiry, the Government has approved redevelopment proposals for 877 new homes.
The famous Shell office tower, built in the aftermath of the Festival of Britain, will remain as the development’s centrepiece, ringed by new lower-rise blocks, a city square, improved public spaces and pedestrian routes, necessary as the area attracts more than 25 million visitors annually.
Several apartment schemes are rising along Albert Embankment, between Lambeth and Vauxhall Bridges. Developer St James has acquired a slab of redundant offices and commissioned renowned architects Foster + Partners and Rogers Stirk Harbour to design classy apartment buildings called The Corniche and Merano Residences due for completion in 2017. Call 020 8246 4190. Riverlight will be the first of the new wave of Nine Elms projects to complete. Prices from £. Call 020 7870 9620.