The opening of the landmark Bankside train station, the first new station on the South Bank of the Thames for 120 years, is yet another reason why homebuyers are clamouring to live in the SE1 postcode — now a thriving cultural centre that includes Tate Modern and Shakespeare’s Globe theatre.
Bankside station will be linked to a rebuilt Blackfriars station on the north bank via a striking glazed concourse and platforms with a solar cell canopy.
As part of the busy Thameslink route from Brighton to Bedford, the new station allows for a trebling of the number of trains per hour and provides commuters with better connections to places such as Wimbledon and Sevenoaks. But the biggest impact will be on the local property market. “It’s another regeneration catalyst in an area that has been on fire since the opening of Tate Modern a decade ago,” says James Hyman of estate agent Cluttons.
The area is not only a cultural and tourist destination, it is an expanding residential neighbourhood and increasingly a place for office workers, especially those in media and finance.
Knight Frank now includes South Bank in its prime central London index, the first time an area south of the Thames has been covered. Previously, the index monitored only the established desirable districts of Chelsea, Kensington, Knightsbridge, Notting Hill and St John’s Wood.
Jump on the bandwagon
Would-be buyers have not missed the boat. Typically, homes along this stretch of the Thames range between £800 and £1,300 a sq ft, which estate agents say is good value for such a buzzing riverside neighbourhood close to all the action (Bankside to the Bank of England is a leisurely 15-minute walk).
Back from the river, there are cheaper pockets set to rise in value, notably the triangle formed by Waterloo, London Bridge and Elephant & Castle, where homes cost £500-£700 a sq ft.
Southwark council is planning a wider renaissance to encourage the 30 million people who visit the riverside strip each year to venture into this promising hinterland.
Part of the area’s charm is its urban residential mix: swish riverside flats, handsome Victorian terraces, charitable and church housing, factory and warehouse lofts, live-work units for creatives, well cared-for public housing and niche private developments.
Blackfriars Road, a wide boulevard-style thoroughfare running from the Thames to St George’s Circus, has been singled out as a key development zone and is poised for major change.
“This is where the next wave of regeneration will be,” says Southwark’s Dan Taylor. The aim is to replace outmoded Sixties office blocks with mixed-use schemes that create links to back streets and animate the neighbourhood.
The masterplan sets high architectural standards and promotes organic rather than wholesale change that respects the fabric of the existing neighbourhood and ensures better homes and more jobs for locals.
Projects under way or in the pipeline
These include One Blackfriars, in a cracking position at the foot of the bridge. St George, developer of distinctive riverside apartment schemes, is building a 51-storey tower with 289 apartments and a low-rise hotel. To register, call 020 7871 7188.
Great Suffolk Street, which runs from Bankside to Borough High Street, has become a development corridor. For years this small-scale commercial district was judged too close to grubby railway viaducts to be a desirable place to live. But the area is smartening up fast. Warehouses and arches are turning into trendy restaurants, studios and galleries. Derelict parking sites and redundant workshops are being redeveloped into boutique homes.
One of the area’s best-kept secrets is Trinity Church Square, a Georgian conservation quarter. “You turn off the busy main drag and take a sharp intake of breath when the handsome terraces and garden squares come into view; it’s traffic-free and surprisingly tranquil,” says Tom Hawkins of estate agent Hamptons International.
Trinity Church Terrace, a new scheme of 10 houses and 22 apartments occupying a long strip of land where a Victorian pickling factory once stood is a worthy addition to the surrounding architecture. Developer London Realty ditched a proposal to build modern townhouses and instead set about replicating the original period style.
Generously sized four-storey houses (up to 4,000sq ft) have traditional railings, recessed arched windows, brick-matched façades and mansard roofs with authentic slate tiles. A standout feature is a double garage, accessed via an underground car park, that connects directly to a basement-level utility room and study, with stairs up to the main living areas. A large reception room has conservatory-style windows linking to a walled rear garden. Houses cost from £1.99 million, apartments from £525,000. Call 020 7758 8424.
Unusually for riverside property, homes along the Southwark waterfront are more expensive than those on the City side, where much of the Thames is lined with commercial buildings, meaning there are far fewer Square Mile apartments with a river view. Coming soon is Broken Wharf, a scheme of 36 apartments moments from St Paul’s Cathedral. The location is almost Venice-like, perched right on the water’s edge. Call Sidell Gibson Architects on 020 3179 9000.