A Bloomsbury-style neighbourhood on the banks of the Thames in Docklands seems a far-fetched notion, but that is the ambitious goal of architects Glenn Howells, whose design for the 3,385-home Royal Wharf scheme, above, is “inspired by the success of London’s landed estates, with their uncomplicated pattern of streets and squares”.
The project was on the drawing board for many years, long before the 2008 credit crunch dashed developer Ballymore’s hopes, but collaboration with Singaporean developer Oxley has turned it into a reality. Docklands’ biggest new neighbourhood since Canary Wharf was built 20 years ago will be a “21st-century urban village” based on old-fashioned design principles, with a high street and marketplace, garden squares, parks, shops, restaurants, a school, and its own Docklands Light Railway station plugged into Crossrail.
Much-needed family houses are part of the mix and almost half of the mainly low-rise neighbourhood will be open green space, with outdoor areas specifically designed for health and fitness co-ordinated by the on-site leisure complex — yoga sessions under the trees, circuit training on the lawns, and jogging and cycling along paths and the riverside promenade.
Construction is just getting under way but the developers’ intention is to build out the entire scheme within about six years, unlike some large-scale projects that drag on. This being Royal Docks, close to the Thames Barrier, the location is quite raw. However, the wider area is set for a sweeping transformation over the next decade and beyond, and this is perhaps a chance to buy early into a district with upside. At the moment, values are 30 per cent cheaper than homes around the river bend at Canary Wharf. Prices start at £250,000 for studios and £382,500 for one-bedroom flats. Four-bedroom townhouses with gardens and terraces cost from £1,050,000. Call 0800 160 1200.