Canalside regeneration is keeping alive the homebuying dreams of young Londoners, with developers unlocking derelict sites in cheaper, up-and-coming areas. Many of the locations are still raw, keeping new homes affordable — but not dull.
Imaginative architecture is helping to create congenial canalbank communities that are car-free, with less pollution and noise, and which become more desirable as they mature.
Gunmakers Wharf in Bow sits on the Hertford Union Canal, alongside leafy Victoria Park, one of London’s best: a 200-acre space boasting lakes and tennis courts, a bandstand and cafés. The neighbourhood is going from strength to strength and has acquired “village” status, due to the cluster of boutiques, bistros and bars that have appeared around Lauriston Road.
Frontline apartments have frameless glass balconies and views across the water to the park. There is a bridge across the canal and the towpath is being upgraded, a boon for cyclists as there are quick routes, flat and safe too, to Canary Wharf and the Olympic Park. Prices from £225,000. Call A2 Dominion on 0800 7832159.
If you are up for an autumn walk, the best way to discover these forgotten waterways and spot the new housing is to put on your hiking boots. Sometimes the access is difficult but it is surprising how far you can go.
Grand Union Canal is the main inland waterway in the capital. It comes in from the west, through Brentford and on to Paddington before joining up with Regent’s Canal and running into the Thames at Limehouse.
Here, Limehouse Cut spins off in a different direction, heading north-east through Hackney Marshes and Walthamstow. The Boatyard, Poplar, is a scheme of 75 canalside apartments. Prices from £240,000. Call Telford Homes on 01992 809800.
Islington and Hackney are the focus of much activity, especially the section of canal between City Road Basin and Kingsland Basin.
Back from the canal are tranquil terraces and garden squares with gastropubs and small independent shops making these attractive, rounded neighbourhoods.
Packington Square, near Angel, is a redevelopment of a former council estate bordering the canal. Hyde Housing association is creating a complete new neighbourhood, with 798 mixed-tenure properties grouped around landscaped public squares and a park. The Axis is the latest phase of private homes, priced from £405,000. Call estate agent Currell on 020 7226 6611.
Haggerston is a place to watch. Sandwiched between bar-packed Hoxton to the south and Islington to the north, the pace of gentrification has been slower here. Broadway Market, from London Fields to Regent’s Canal at Haggerston, has changed with the times but retains some of its old down-to-earth, street-trader character: Cooke’s pie-and-mash shop now serves cocktails.
City Mills is the district’s largest new development — 350 apartments, many with sweeping views of the City skyline. Two-bedroom flats start at £390,000. Call 0844 406 9289.
Kingsland Basin, part of Regent’s Canal in Shoreditch, is being turned into a smart new waterside community with 207 new homes, a health centre, shops and offices. Restoration of two listed stable buildings will create studios and workshops for small businesses. The canal is being opened up for recreational use, with eco-zones on the edges of the basin planted with native species to attract birds and other wildlife.
Lexicon is one of several new apartment schemes being built at City Road Basin, Angel. Of the 307 apartments, 69 are for shared ownership through Affinity Sutton housing association. Call 0300 100 0303.
Lee Navigation runs from Bow Creek to Hertford via the giant reservoirs and nature reserves of north-east London. Along the route, factories and mills are being redeveloped. Industrial eyesores remain but this is a remarkably green swathe of the capital, with parks and unexpected conservation areas. Pavilions is part of a 12-acre waterside village at Tottenham Hale, one of the capital’s main transport interchanges. Prices from £184,995. Call Bellway on 0845 548 8038.
Brentford Lock West on the way to Heathrow in the west, has 530 flats and townhouses, part of an 11-acre scheme on the banks of the Grand Union Canal. As well as commercial and leisure space, new moorings, pontoons and a footbridge are being created, the towpath widened and Art Deco warehouses refurbished. Homes have “green” credentials: high energy-efficiency ratings, rooftop allotments and solar panels. Prices from £284,950. Call 0202 8569 7449.