There is no better place to witness the eastward march of London than Canning Town, where a £3.7 billion regeneration scheme is building 10,000 new homes and two new town centres.
Here and in Custom House and around Royal Victoria Dock, new tower blocks look down on modest post-war council homes in what is a strongly working-class area, once home to thousands of dock workers.
This neighbourhood is better known for its boxers than its brain-power, with a new public square under the A13 flyover commemorating local hero Terry Spinks (1938-2012) who won the flyweight gold medal at the Melbourne Olympics in 1956, while outside Peacock Gym in Caxton Street stands a statue of boxer Bradley Stone, who died aged just 23 in 1994 from injuries sustained in a match.
Regeneration has brought new homes for locals and attracted professional newcomers who see Canning Town as a handy and still relatively affordable place to live, while carving out careers four minutes away in Canary Wharf.
The two new town centres are placed strategically on both side of the A13 flyover. Developers English Cities Fund — a joint venture between Muse, Legal & General and the Homes & Communities Agency — has just signed off on its Rathbone Market development on the north side of the A13 along Barking Road.
This has delivered 652 new homes including the landmark bright red Vermilion tower, a new library and community centre and two new public squares.
The £600 million Hallsville Quarter on the south side of the A13 is the focus of the second town centre.
Developer Linkcity, part of French construction giant Bouygues, is building 1,100 flats, shops along a new high street, an Ibis hotel, a cinema and gym, in five phases ending in 2024.
The first phase of 179 flats and a Morrisons supermarket is due to open soon. The second phase, of 349 flats in two towers, will be move-in ready this time next year.
Custom House DLR station will be on the Elizabeth line, one stop from Canary Wharf and three from Liverpool Street when the service opens in December next year. Local estate agent Ishbir Rakhra from Oakville Real Estates calls Canning Town the last affordable London postcode.
“There is tremendous growth here and although there’s an oversupply of flats for sale and rent at the moment, the development of the ABP business park in Royal Albert Dock and the arrival of Crossrail at Custom House means that in the long term, Canning Town has huge potential.
A lot of families priced out of Hackney and Walthamstow are moving here. Two years ago three-bedroom terrace houses were £300,000. Now it’s nearer £450,000.”
Canning Town is seven miles from central London with West Ham to the north; Beckton to the east; Greenwich Peninsula over the river to the south and Poplar to the west.
House hunters will find a mix of mainly post-war council houses and low-rise flats, pockets of early Victorian terraces and many new-build flats, including tower blocks. Britannia Village on the southern side of Royal Victoria Dock is a low-rise Nineties scheme of flats and houses.
Hallsville Quarter has one- and two-bedroom flats for sale off-plan in 18-storey Discovery Tower. From £440,000 for a one-bedroom home and £555,000 for two bedrooms. Visit hallsvillequarter.co.uk or call Knight Frank on 020 7718 5202.
London City Island is a joint venture between Malaysian-based Ecoworld and Ballymore on a 12-acre site on a bend in the River Lea, close to where it reaches the Thames.
This mini Manhattan includes 1,700 flats in multicoloured tower blocks, plus waterside parks and new homes for English National Ballet and London Film School.
A new café, bar and Italian deli, the Island Café, is already open. In the second phase of 417 flats, studios start at £398,500, with one-bedroom flats from £432,000, two-bedroom flats at £635,000 and three-bedroom flats at £730,000. Call 020 7118 0400.
A new pedestrian bridge links the development with Canning Town station. London City Island is also a short walk from a hidden gem, Trinity Buoy Wharf, home to the capital’s only lighthouse and a colourful converted shipping-container city of workspaces and two cafés.
Royal Wharf, between the river and Silvertown Way, is being built by Oxley and Ballymore. With a 550-yard river frontage, it will bring 3,385 homes, four squares, two parks and a new school.
Mariner’s Quarter, the final phase, includes 207 one-, two- and three-bedroom flats now being sold off-plan in the 18-storey Marco Polo building, and the whole scheme will be finished by 2021. Prices start at £330,000. Visit royalwharflondon.com or call 020 7118 0700.
Notting Hill housing association has one-, two- and three-bedroom flats for shared ownership in Rathbone Market with prices starting at £82,500 for 25 per cent of a one-bedroom home with a market price of £330,000.
A quarter share of a two-bedroom flat is £101,000 — market price £425,000. Call 020 3815 1234 for more.
Help to Buy is available at Atrium, the final phase of East City Point on the A13 Newham Way, a Countryside development of one-, two- and three-bedroom flats and two- and three-bedroom ground-floor and first-floor duplexes.
Prices start at £320,000 for completion in spring this year. Call 020 7473 1198.
Canning Town has a wealth of modern one- and two-bedroom flats designed for young professional singles, couples and sharers working in Canary Wharf.
Of the 550 or so homes currently listed to rent on Rightmove in Canning Town, only 57 are houses.
Ishbir Rakhra of Oakville Real Estates says he is having to advise landlords to lower their rents, and tell tenants they should drive a hard bargain.
Estate agent Ishbir Rakhra says Canning Town is in such flux that it is too early to say if all the newcomers will stay long term.
Canning Town and Custom House are in the E16 Victoria Docks and North Woolwich postcode which also covers Silvertown, London City Airport, North Woolwich and parts of Beckton.#
Ishbir Rakhra, of Oakville Real Estates, tips anywhere near the newly emerging Hallsville Quarter.
Up and coming
Crossrail will change people’s perceptions of the area around Custom House station which will be three minutes from Canary Wharf and 10 minutes from Liverpool Street on the Elizabeth line.
Canning town is on the A13 to Leigh-on-Sea and Southend. DLR stations with City trains are Canning Town, Royal Victoria and Custom House. Canning Town station is also on the Jubilee line with two stops to Canary Wharf, and is three DLR stops from London City Airport.
The Emirates cable car to North Greenwich from Royal Victoria Dock is useful for the O2. All stations are in Zone 3 and an annual railcard to Zone 1 costs £1,520.
Newham is Labour controlled. Band D council tax for 2016/2017 is £1,240.54
Shops and restaurants
Canning Town isn’t a shoppers’ paradise, but there are both local shops and chains, including Co-op, Iceland and McDonald’s along Barking Road, and in Freemasons Road, in Custom House.
A space has been created in the new development in Barking Road for the once-vibrant Rathbone Market but the day we visited it was litter-strewn with only one stall.
The huge range of shops and chain eateries at Westfield Stratford City are two stops away on the Jubilee line and there are cafés and restaurants at Western Gateway opposite Royal Victoria Dock and leading to ExCeL London exhibition and convention centre.
Good Hotel is a newcomer to Royal Victoria Dock, a floating hotel serving food to non-residents which operates as a social enterprise, training young people for the hospitality industry. It arrived on a barge from Amsterdam in November and will stay for five years.
Canning Town has two nature reserves: Bow Creek in Bidder Street and East India Dock Basin in Orchard Place.
There are two local parks: Canning Town Recreation Ground in Prince Regent Lane, which has a floodlit multi-games court, a trim trail, tennis courts and a wildflower meadow, and is also home to East London Cycle Speedway Club and Outdoors in the City, an outdoor activity centre with a climbing wall; and Keir Hardie Recreation Ground in Tarling Road, which has a multi-use games area, a trim trail and a children’s play area with sand and water.
Ashburton Wood in Freemasons Road is a small patch of wild woodland with paths cut through it. A beach is created in summer at the western end of Royal Victoria Dock.
Leisure and the arts
The Crystal in Royal Victoria Dock is a science museum run by Siemens, showcasing technology relating to sustainable cities. Theatre Royal Stratford East is the nearest theatre.
The O2 at Greenwich Peninsula has top-name concerts and a Cineworld cinema. There is a Vue multiplex cinema at Westfield Stratford City.
The nearest council swimming pool is at Balaam Leisure Centre in Balaam Street.
Local state primary schools with an “outstanding” Ofsted rating are: St Luke’s CofE in Ruscoe Road; Hallsville in Radland Road; St Helen’s RC in Chargeable Lane; St Joachim’s RC in Shipman Road, and Britannia Village in Westwood Road.
Keir Hardie Primary School, in a new building in Robertson Road, is also popular and gets a “good” rating from the education watchdog.
The nearest state comprehensive schools judged “outstanding” are: the heavily oversubscribed Brampton Manor Academy (co-ed, ages 11 to 18) in Roman Road, East Ham; St Paul’s Way Trust (co-ed, ages 11 to 18) in St Paul’s Way in Bow, and the all-through free school, School 21 (ages four to 18) in Pitchford Street, Stratford. Rokeby, the local Canning Town boys comprehensive (ages 11 to 16) in Barking Road is rated “good”, as are Bow School (co-ed, ages 11 to 18) in Twelvetrees Crescent in Bow; East London Science School (co-ed, ages 11 to 18), a free school in Three Mill Lane, Bromley-by-Bow; Langdon Park (co-ed, ages 11 to 18) in Bright Street, Poplar; Lister Community School (co-ed, ages 11 to 16) in St Mary’s Road in Upton Park, and St Bonaventure’s RC (boys, ages 11 to 18 with girls in the sixth form) in Boleyn Road, Forest Gate. Oasis Academy Silvertown (co-ed, ages 11 to 16) is a new free school currently based in Britannia Village Hall, which opened in September 2014 and has not yet been inspected by Ofsted.
There are two sixth form colleges, both judged “good”: Newham in Prince Regent Lane and London Academy of Excellence, a free school in High Street in Stratford.
Canning Town does not have many private schools. The best-known is Faraday School (co-ed, ages four to 11) in Trinity Buoy Wharf. Promised Land Academy (co-ed, ages four to 16) is a small Christian school in Foster Road in Plaistow.