Canary Wharf reborn: thousands of new sky-high homes for families in a Crossrail hotspot

Canary Wharf, once crash pad central for bankers, is changing. Thousands of new high-rise homes are set to offer family-size flats, sky-high crèches and aerial playgrounds near new schools and parks.
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Having established its  success as a thriving  commercial zone and workplace, Canary Wharf is out to prove it also has residential credentials. Born as a new financial district to rival the Square Mile more than 30 years ago, this 128-acre private estate is an island within an island, that is, the Isle of Dogs.

It has its own ring-of-steel security cordon, but its sheer scale means Canary Wharf has been encircled by development that extends to cover the entire area within the great U-bend in the Thames.

In the blink of an eye, it seems, the district has found its identity within the geographical area we now call Docklands. And an ambitious building programme is being launched, with thousands of new homes, most of which will be ready in 2018 to 2020. 


If you buy off-plan today, your home will be ready for the opening of Crossrail in 2018, the real game-changer for Canary Wharf, making the West End just a 13-minute train journey away.

Launching early July is 10 Park Drive, the first residential scheme within the estate boundaries. This is the initial phase of a 23-acre, 3,200-home neighbourhood called Wood Wharf. 

There are 345 apartments in a pair of linked towers incorporating a sky terrace, spa and gym. Interiors by award-winning architects Make feature sliding walls allowing for open-plan or cellular living. Prices from £395,000. Call 020 7001 3800. Completion is due in 2019.
From £395,000: interiors at 10 Park Drive feature sliding walls allowing for open-plan or cellular living. Call 020 7001 3800

Unlike the area’s first generation of gated housing schemes, which provided crash pads for bankers and corporate lawyers, and boxy flats for the army of white-collar workers, the aim of the new developments is to attract families, with softer architectural lines, parks and public spaces and what developers call “social infrastructure” including schools, previously the missing ingredient.

Mid-priced townhouses and family flats are part of Millharbour Village, one of the new high-rise quarters, with a nursery and aerial playgrounds on the rooftops. 

Canary Wharf has acquired a critical mass and is maturing into a lively district, with an international character. The workforce has risen from 8,000 25 years ago to 110,000 today and is projected to double by 2025. The big mistake, however, was not putting in transport links from the start. Crossrail has been a long time coming, but at least it is almost here now.
From £490,000: South Quay Plaza, designed by innovative architects Foster + Partners, features 888 sleek properties. 

Joe Selby, a junior director of property consultants CBRE, is confident that Canary Wharf and east London are attracting buyers who do not want to commute. “The next 30 years will be just as exciting,” he adds. 

For many years, the area has been relatively cheap, but property values are rising. Johnny Morris, research director at Hamptons International, says: “There were 45 £1 million-plus sales in Canary Wharf last year, the highest level ever.” 

Crossrail will make Canary Wharf feel far less detached from central London. Bullish developers are trumpeting this improved connectivity and pricing it into property. 

According to property analysts, Canary Wharf will eventually see price parity with the City and riverside  districts such as Bankside and Nine Elms in Battersea.

What’s new
A Berkeley Homes development of 888 properties, South Quay Plaza includes one of Britain’s tallest towers — a 68-storey glass-clad skyscraper  with a residents club, private cinema and spa on the 56th floor. 

Designed by Foster + Partners, the scheme also brings new dockside landscaping, small parks, shops, bars and  restaurants. The tower is being built at a 45-degree rotation to ensure that the flats are dual aspect. Floor-to-ceiling glazing maximises views over the intersection of the historic docks. Prices start at £490,000. Call 020 3675 4400. Completion is expected in 2020.
Wardian London has 792 flats in two towers. Completion in 2019 — call 020 7510 9100

Wardian London — 792 flats in two towers — takes its name from the glass cases used at the height of the British Empire to protect rare imported plants. Ballymore, the developer, says the scheme will integrate indoor and outdoor living, with a landscaped public plaza and abundant planting of more than 100 species of plants and flowers. Completion in 2019 — call 020 7510 9100. Harbour Central is the first phase of 1,500-home Millharbour Village, and Galliard has opted for an Art Deco architectural theme. 

Towers are clad in bronze and glass and there is a spectacular entrance lobby plus a gym and spa, private cinema, valet parking, concierge, cocktail bar and club lounge. Prices are from £625,000. Call 020 7620 1500. Completion in 2018.

Manhattan Plaza is slightly off-pitch, lying the other side of a dual carriageway just beyond the Canary Wharf estate. Apartments and townhouses are cheaper as a result. Prices from £662,500. Call Telford Homes on 01992 809800.

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