Over the past decade the industrial no-go zone of the Paddington Basin in west London has been transformed into a lively mix of apartments, shops, bars and restaurants. Now it is the turn of the City Road Basin in east London to get the regeneration treatment.
This unloved and unlovely offshoot of the Regent's Canal, just off City Road, is in the early stages of an ambitious five-year scheme which, according to the developers' timetable, will see some 860 new homes created, two new skyscrapers born, and all connected by a linear, waterside park.
To date, the City Road Basin has only one completed development, the award-winning Angel Waterside, plus a new piazza.
But the finishing touches are being put to the second phase, a 15-storey block due to be completed at the end of the year.
All 100 homes in the block, named Reflections, are aimed at the affordable market — with 50 to be let at subsidised rents and 50 sold on a shared-ownership basis.
The scheme will be formally launched by the housing association Family Mosaic next month.
The market price of a one-bedroom flat starts at £270,000, so a 35 per cent share will be £94,000.
The market price of two-bedroom homes begins at £350,000, which means a 35 per cent share will cost from £122,500.
The scheme is aimed at first-time buyers with a household income of less than £60,000 per year, and priority will be given to those living or working in the north and central London boroughs of Barnet, Camden, Enfield, Haringey, Islington and Westminster.
"It really is an incredibly handy location," said Mike Fawcett, regional development manager at Family Mosaic. "It is near everything — you are just a stone's throw from Angel and the City, and some of the views are going to be tremendous. The space standards are very good and it is going to be a very high-quality development."
If location is everything then Reflections certainly looks like one of the most exciting affordable developments of the year. Its site off City Road means it is equidistant from the bars of Upper Street and the offices of Old Street, and is also within easy walking distance of Hoxton and the Barbican.
There is already an active boat club, the Islington Boat Club, at the basin, so weekends could be spent canoeing and kayaking, and there is an annual festival, which is not quite Henley but still offers great fun.
The space standards Fawcett refers to are very liveable. One-bedroom flats are 545-685sq ft, while those with two bedrooms are 725-790sq ft. Many of the flats have balconies, and some have great views of the water.
The development looks high-end, from the glossy white kitchens with granite work surfaces, to the built-in wardrobes.
The downside is, of course, that the City Road Basin is a work in progress, and residents will have to contend with several years of building. The next phase is an adjacent 28-storey tower containing 204 private flats, and work is due to start next year.
Developer Groveworld also has planning consent for later phases including a 36-storey tower to contain just over 300 flats, by Squire & Partners, the firm currently drawing up plans for the redevelopment of Chelsea Barracks.
There are also proposals for a further 169 flats to be built in two separate low-rise blocks.
Ian Manson, of Groveworld, said that the aspiration was for the whole site — including the linear park encircling the basin — to be completed within five years, although naturally this time frame is dependent on finance being secured.
The basin, built in 1820, was once one of the busiest canal hubs in London, used for loading and unloading cargo destined for the City, but fell into decline in the Sixties. However long the redevelopment takes to complete, it is sure to breathe new life into the area after 50 years of uncertainty.
* For information on Reflections and to register your interest, visit familymosaic.co.uk.