They are tearing up the map in east London’s Canning Town. Between now and 2023, a £3.7 billion regeneration programme will bring 10,000 new homes to this corner of Docklands, together with town centre improvements, some entirely new streets, new community centres, a library and new primary schools.
Rathbone Market, between Barking Road and Newham Way, is the first tangible sign that life is looking up for Canning Town. Now nearing completion, the first buyers will move into Vermilion, a landmark red tower designed by architects CZW, later this summer.
Canning Town was a dockers’ town that grew up after the Royal Victoria Docks opened in 1855. One of the founders of the Labour Party, Keir Hardie, was elected MP for one of its constituencies, West Ham South, in 1892. Later, the Blitz left a trail of destruction, and postwar slum clearance swept away much of the rest — only to make way for mostly poorly designed Fifties, Sixties and Seventies terraces and grim council estates.
Property: this is a townscape still dominated by old industrial buildings, such as the impressive Millennium Mills once slated for conversion into loft flats with an adjacent aquarium, and the giant Tate & Lyle Silvertown sugar refineries now immortalised in the best-selling book Sugar Babes, which tells the fictionalised stories of the women who worked on Sugar Mile during the Forties and Fifties.
What’s on offer?
There are two distinct property markets in Canning Town: new-build flats, either on the river or overlooking the docks, and postwar terrace houses in the town centre. The most expensive flats are found on Western Gateway on the north side of Royal Victoria Dock, next to the ExCeL exhibition centre. Three-bedroom apartments here sell for £700,000.
There are modern townhouses in Britannia Village on the south side of the dock which sell for about £350,000. In Canning Town itself, prices rarely go beyond £300,000 for a four-bedroom terrace house — and can be as low as £100,000 for a one-bedroom flat in the 26-storey Ferrier Point in Forty Acre Lane, which has recently undergone an £8.5 million refurbishment.
The area attracts: cheap property prices pull in the first-time buyers. Estate agent Terry Ennever, of Royal Docks Property Services, says that four or five years ago buyers considered themselves pioneers, but now Canning Town is getting better-known.
Staying power: flat-buyers tend to move out of the area when they look for a house with a garden.
Postcode: E16 is the Canning Town postcode; it includes Custom House, North Woolwich, the Royal Victoria and Albert Docks, Silvertown and London City Airport.
Where to buy
While the best road is Western Gateway, there are three impressive developments currently selling off-plan: Vermilion, part of the Rathbone Market redevelopment in the town centre; Taylor Wimpey’s Waterside Park on the south side of the Royal Victoria Dock close to the Connaught Bridge, and East City Point in Charford Road.
At Vermilion (Hamptons 020 7758 8481), developer the English Cities Fund has built 271 homes (103 affordable) in the first phase, in a scheme which, when complete in 2016, will provide 650 new homes.
There are one- and two-bedroom flats available from £187,500 at Millennium Horizon, a separate development within the Rathbone Market project. Call Notting Hill Housing on 020 8357 4444.
At Waterside Park, a joint venture between Barratt (0844 811 4334) and Taylor Wimpey (0845 871 0035), 777 new homes are being built, designed by leading architects Allies and Morrison and Maccreanor Lavington, including 270 affordable properties. There will be a mix of one-, two- and three-bedroom flats and four-bedroom houses. The second phase is now selling off-plan and one-bedroom flats start at £217,000. Gallions Housing Association (0300 123 1141) is the affordable provider.
At East City Point (020 7473 1198) in Charford Road, developer Countryside is building the first phase of 139 one- and two-bedroom flats, two- and three-bedroom duplexes and three-bedroom houses, and prices start at £160,000. The scheme will eventually have 649 new homes, including 227 affordable. Affinity Sutton (0300 100 0303) is the affordable housing provider.
Developer Ballymore has two large schemes. Minoco Wharf is a 41-acre riverside site at Pontoon Dock; this will have more than 3,500 new homes arranged in traditional streets. The other is Leamouth Peninsula, a mixed-use scheme close to the mouth of the River Lea, which will have 1,600 new homes.
Siemens is opening The Crystal, at the western end of the Royal Victoria Dock. The £30 million centre, which looks like two intertwined crystals, is described as an international centre for sustainable cities and opens as a visitor attraction in September. It lies next to the new cable car, which will transport people from the Greenwich Peninsula to the Royal Victoria Dock in time for the Olympics. And last month, developer Chelsfield was named preferred developer at the 50-acre Silvertown Quay, a £1.2 million mixed-use scheme that will feature innovative “top-brand” pavilions as well as new homes.
Getting an education
Canning Town has the following primary schools which are judged “outstanding” by the government’s education watchdog Ofsted: St Luke’s in Ruscoe Road, Hallsville in Radland Road and Britannia Village in Westwood Road. Rokeby (boys ages 11 to 16) is the only secondary school judged “outstanding” but the following comprehensives are judged “good”: Eastlea (co-ed, ages 11 to 16), Langdon Park (co-ed ages 11 to 16) and Brampton Manor Academy (co-ed ages 11 to 18). Newham Sixth Form College is judged “good”. A group of local parents has recently won approval to open a free secondary school — the Newham Free Academy.
Shopping: the Westfield centre at Stratford is two stops away on the Jubilee line. Eating out is limited to the popular American-style Fatboy’s Diner at Trinity Buoy Wharf; Pepenero Italian restaurant and pizzeria on Silvertown Way, and Yi Ban, a big Chinese restaurant with views over Royal Albert Dock.
Open spacesThe Thames Barrier Park overlooking the Thames Barrier is an innovative new riverside park featuring a “green dock”. Trinity Buoy Wharf, on a great curve of the Thames, is one of London’s best-kept secrets: a community of people living and working in recycled shipping containers and a lighthouse. There’s even a recording studio created inside a disused lightship.
* MORE ON THE BOROUGH OF NEWHAM:
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Leisure and the arts: the nearest council-owned swimming pool is at the Newham Leisure Centre in nearby Plaistow. There is a swimming pool, open to the public, at the Crowne Plaza hotel on Western Gateway. Brick Lane Music Hall puts on old-fashioned music hall in a converted church in Connaught Road. The London Regatta Centre at the western end of the Royal Albert Dock is a leading centre for rowing.
Travel: Canning Town is well-placed for the M11 and the A12. London City Airport is a few minutes away. Canning Town, Royal Victoria, Custom House, West Silvertown and Pontoon Dock are all on the DLR, giving direct and quick access to Canary Wharf and the City; Canning Town is on the Jubilee line with access to Stratford and the West End; all stations are in Zone 3 and an annual travelcard to Zone 1 is £1,368.
Council: Newham (Labour-controlled); Band D council tax for the 2012/2013 year is £1,252.35.
Buying in Canning Town
One-bedroom flat £159,000
Two-bedroom flat £254,000
Two-bedroom house £181,000
Three-bedroom house £238,000
Four-bedroom house £282,000
Renting in Canning Town
One-bedroom flat £170 to £500 a week
Two-bedroom flat £225 to £600 a week
Two-bedroom house £250 to £480 a week
Three-bedroom house £275 to £500 a week
Four-bedroom house £350 to £550 a week
Photographs: Graham Hussey