Blackfriars: a train station over the Thames

Blackfriars will be the first train station to span the Thames, with platforms north and south of the river, adding shimmer to the South Bank's "string of property pearls". David Spittles reports
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Blackfriars South
The first new train station in 120 years - Blackfriars South at Bankside with platforms stretching across the river to a refurbished Blackfriars station
Blackfriars South at Bankside will be the first new train station to be built on the South Bank of the Thames in more than 120 years, and the first station to span the river with a stunning piece of architecture - a suitable and symbolic celebration of the area's arrival as a fashionable urban quarter.

Houses and flats for sale at Bankside
Houses and flats for sale at Bankside

Trumpeted as a waterfront "string of pearls", the strip from Shad Thames to the former GLC headquarters at County Hall (now smart apartments) has become one of the capital's hottest locations.

'Blackfriars South, at Bankside, will have a concourse with steps to new platforms that span the river'

Nearby attractions include the London Eye, the Festival Hall arts complex, Oxo Tower, Tate Modern, Millennium Bridge (with its seamless link to St Paul's Cathedral), Shakespeare's Globe, Borough Market, the Shard of Glass, Hay's Galleria, the headlamp-shaped City Hall and Tower Bridge.

Central hub

By the end of next year the latest city landmark, Blackfriars South, at Bankside, will have a glazed concourse, with steps to new platforms that span the river. These connect it with Blackfriars station, which is being rebuilt on the north side of the Thames.

It is yet another enticement for those homebuyers who want to move to the area - as well as being a boon for tens of thousands of commuters and tourists. The South Bank is not only a cultural hub, it is an expanding residential neighbourhood and increasingly a place for office workers, especially media and finance sector employees.

The South Bank is seeing a host of new developments
The South Bank is seeing a host of new developments

Buzzing neighbourhood

Covent Garden and the City are just a short stroll across the river. Within a 15-minute walk of Bankside are four major rail terminals and nine Tube stations. Bond Street and Canary Wharf are a 10-minute hop on the Jubilee line.

Previously the area had been rejected by posh people, but a decade of regeneration has propelled South Bank into the premier league. At NEO Bankside, swish apartments designed by architect Richard Rogers are selling for £1,400 per sq ft, equivalent to parts of Mayfair and Chelsea.

Would-be buyers have not missed the boat. Typical values along this stretch of the Thames range between £700 and £1,000 a sq ft, which agents say is good value for such a buzzing riverside neighbourhood close to all the action. "It's easy to pick out pockets of good value, especially back from the river," says Carl Davenport of estate agent Chesterton Humberts.

Wheat Wharf
£1.05 million: two-bedroom penthouse in a Wheat Wharf warehouse at Shad Thames. Call Cluttons (020 7407 3669)

Charming mix

The triangle formed by Waterloo, Borough and Elephant & Castle is a place to watch. For years this small-scale commercial district was judged the wrong side of the tracks, too close to grubby railway viaducts. Developers are now stalking this cheaper hinterland and it is being discovered by buyers.

Great Suffolk Street, which runs from Bankside to Newington Causeway, is becoming a development corridor. Derelict parking sites and redundant workshops and warehouses are being turned into homes. Coming soon is a scheme of 15 apartments on Bear Lane.

South Bankside, a scheme of 40 flats on Borough Road, has just launched with prices starting at £325,000 for one-bedroom flats. Call estate agent Daniel Cobb on 020 7357 0026.

Part of SE1's charm is its urban residential mix - glamorous riverside flats, handsome Victorian terraces, charitable and church housing, well cared-for council estates and niche private developments.

Popular addresses include Bankside Lofts, Whitehouse Apartments on Belvedere Road, Benbow House (left) and Butler's Wharf.

Good value resales are available at Rennie Court, a Seventies-built riverside block on Upper Ground - prices start from about £395,000 - and also at Falcon Point, a former council estate next to Tate Modern. NEO Bankside has raised the bar: five glass-façade towers - or pavilions - rising to 24 storeys and containing 197 apartments with up to four bedrooms.

The design includes glass lifts, while flats have winter gardens (enclosed balconies) suspended from the main structure. Duplex penthouses will be for sale nearer the completion in 2012. Prices start at £1,475,000 for a two-bedroom apartment. Call 020 7998 1888 or visit the marketing suite next to Tate Modern.

The relocation of Eurostar from Waterloo to St Pancras has paved the way for long-overdue improvements to Waterloo and its vicinity, including Lower Marsh street market.

Bench Street
£195,000: a ground-floor studio flat in King's Bench Street, SE1. Chesterton Humberts (020 7357 7999)
The revamped station will be better integrated with Royal Festival Hall, ending the unfriendly pedestrian approach. Envisaged is a new station entrance on York Road as well as a street-level concourse and public square.

Another linked project is P&O's redevelopment of Elizabeth House, which will be demolished and replaced by two office towers and a residential skyscraper (which Mayor Boris Johnson has dubbed "the three ugly sisters").

Houses and flats for sale at Bankside
Houses and flats for sale at Bankside


Nearby, King's Reach Tower has been snapped up by developer CIT for a new mixed-use scheme, while the National Theatre is planning a
£50 million modernisation of its home. Coin Street Community Builders, a grass roots group that converted the derelict Oxo Tower into a complex of galleries, boutiques and restaurants, is also developing land opposite the National Theatre. The mixed-use development on Doon Street will have 329 flats in a slender, 44-storey tower, a new headquarters and studios for the Rambert Dance Company, and a leisure club with swimming pool.

Flats in London Bridge's Shard tower
Flats in London Bridge's Shard tower, designed by Renzo Piano

Three times the height of St Paul's

The Shard, being built beside London Bridge station, is only half-finished but is already an unmissable presence on the London skyline. It is part of a wider development zone called London Bridge Quarter.

When complete in summer 2012, the Shard will be Europe's tallest residential tower, three times the height of St Paul's Cathedral. The 1.4 million sq ft "vertical village" of shops, offices, hotel rooms and apartments will transform the immediate vicinity. Thousands of people will eventually work there and the flats at the top will be among the planet's most desirable homes.

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