Plans unveiled by Mayor Boris Johnson and Transport for London reveal proposed new river bus routes and marinas that will see passenger numbers double from six to 12 million a year by 2020. Waterfront neighbourhoods and office districts will be designed to make it much easier for people to get to and from work using the Thames.
The river’s profile as a leisure and recreation destination will also be boosted by new promenades, pontoons, performance spaces, pleasure boat moorings, floating restaurants and nature retreats, such as the Garden Bridge between Strand and the South Bank.
Plantation Wharf in Battersea is the first place to benefit. A new pier opens next month, coinciding with the launch of a fresh fleet of fuel-efficient catamarans, boosting capacity on the Putney to Blackfriars run.
City Hall planners are determined to avoid recreating the sterile neighbourhoods, with no shops or facilities, that typified the first wave of Docklands regeneration 30 years ago. Thoughtful architecture is helping to make the riverbank a more convivial place. Alluring, glass-clad apartments have large terraces and winter gardens for year-round living, allowing residents to enjoy the sweeping vistas and big, colour-changing skies.
“Demand for what might be called ‘property-upon-Thames’ has never been so strong,” says Candice Matthews, director of property consultant DTZ.
IMAGE GALLERY: LONDON'S LATEST NEW HOMES WITH VIEWS ACROSS THE THAMES
Image gallery: new riverside homes in London
Image gallery: new riverside homes in London
From £417,600: Royal Quay, overlooking Limehouse Cut, is a new scheme of 90 homes set behind original warehouse façades (scroll right...)
From £417,600: apartments at Royal Quay feature exposed brickwork and high ceilings (scroll right...)
From £417,600: flats at Royal Quay are some of the best-value homes in London with waterside views. Call 020 7328 7171
4/26 Wapping Riverside
From £1,450,000: set within a warehouse conversion, Wapping Riverside offers 37 exclusive apartments enjoying panoramic views across the Thames (scroll right...)
IMAGES: DANIEL LYNCH
5/26 Wapping Riverside
From £1,450,000: there are one- to three-bedroom apartments with private balconies or terrace space, designed to perfectly combine original features with luxury contemporary functionality (scroll right...)
6/26 Wapping Riverside
From £1,450,000: situated on Wapping High Street, flats are ideally located for quick commutes to the City and Canary Wharf. Call 020 7620 1500
7/26 Canary Wharf
From £490,000: South Quay Plaza, a development of 888 properties, includes the UK’s tallest tower — a 66-storey glass-clad skyscraper with a residents’ club, private cinema and spa on the 56th floor (scroll right...)
8/26 Canary Wharf
From £490,000: the scheme at South Quay Plaza brings new dockside landscaping, small parks, shops, bars and restaurants (scroll right...)
9/26 Canary Wharf
From £490,000: 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. Call 020 3675 4400
From £367,500 to £1.85 million: beyond the Docklands heartland, Woolwich’s Royal Arsenal is a stunning piece of military architecture (scroll right...)
From £367,500: formerly a munitions factory, Royal Arsenal has homes, shops and amenities, a four-acre park, a riverboat pier plus a new Crossrail station (scroll right...)
From £367,500: Waterfront II, the latest phase, looms over the Thames, alongside a half-mile promenade. Blocks of wide-windowed apartments are shaped to maximise views from all flats. Call 020 8331 7130
From £775,000: Battersea Reach has a series of dramatic glass-fronted apartment blocks with giant terraces overlooking the river (scroll right...)
From £775,000: an exclusive waterside community, Battersea Reach has picturesque grounds, excellent transport links and riverside walkways. Call 020 7978 4141
From £975,000: Borough Place is a boutique development of eight two- and three-bedroom flats and one rooftop penthouse (scroll right...)
From £975,000: each apartment at Borough Place benefits from spacious Winter Gardens which are bathed in natural light. Call 020 7749 3810
From £1.7 million: 706 homes will be built at Chelsea Waterfront, on the converted Lots Road Power Station - a stone's throw from King's Road (scroll right...)
From £1.7 million: flats at Chelsea Waterfront are accompanied by water gardens, three pedestrian bridges across tidal Chelsea Creek and a 660-yard riverside promenade. Call 020 7352 8852
19/26 Surrey Quays
From £430,000: homes at Endeavour House and Mariners Place - the latest phase at Marine Wharf in Docklands (scroll right...)
20/26 Surrey Quays
From £430,000: added benefits at Marine Wharf include access to landscaped courtyards, 24-hour concierge and on-site amenities and gym facilities. Call 020 8694 3100
From £796,995: the former Kops Brewery has been reincarnated as Fulham Riverside with 401 homes (scroll right...)
From £796,995: at Fulham Riverside the open area facing the river will have a central communal garden, with a 10ft-high waterfall feature. Call 0844 811 4334
23/26 Greenwich Peninsula
Greenwich Peninsula is the site of London's biggest single regeneration project. This riverside district has plans for a lively 24-hour community with 15,000 new homes. Call 020 3713 6153
From £1.25 million: Riverwalk in Millbank has two curvy new blocks, one 17 storeys high, connected by a central podium, providing 113 homes (scroll right...)
From £1.25 million: many of the flats at Riverwalk have direct access to outside space. The development also features a gym overlooking the Thames, as well as valet parking and 24-hour concierge and security. Call 020 7409 8756.
St George Wharf is a riverside development spanning across 7 acres in Vauxhall with landscaped courtyards, supermarket, restaurants, healthcare clinics and spa facilities. Call 020 7222 2500
“Londoners have always gravitated towards the river, but the riverside lifestyle is a recent phenomenon,” says Matthews. “People can now buy into a prestige development with amenities on the doorstep, a 24-hour concierge, spa, security, underground parking and a long lease.”
This applies even in distinctly un-posh parts of the riverbank —such as Deptford, where the giant 3,500-home Convoys Wharf development is coming soon. Call 020 3296 2222.
There is always a premium to pay for a river-facing home, according to estate agent Savills. Apartments within 100 yards or so of the Thames typically cost about 21 per cent more than similar-size homes in the vicinity.
Commute in comfort
Better river transport is an extra incentive to buy a home at a waterfront development — and a river bus trip is the best way to check out the numerous housing schemes springing up along the banks of the Thames.
Currently, there are two main river bus routes along the central Thames — Putney to Blackfriars via Chelsea Harbour, and from the London Eye to Woolwich via Canary Wharf. There are 19 piers in total. In addition, there is a Tate-to-Tate — Vauxhall to Bankside —service, plus a spur from Rotherhithe to Canary Wharf, linking two parts of Docklands either side of the river.
MBNA Thames Clippers is the main commuter operator. When the service launched in 1999, only 87 passengers a day used it. Now there are more than 10,000 passengers a day — nearly four million a year.
Boats depart from central London piers every 20 minutes. All passengers are guaranteed a seat and, unlike the Tube, you can get an internet connection. There is also an on-board bar, where you can buy coffee and alcoholic drinks.
Adult single tickets cost from £3.90, and you can tap in and out with an Oyster card. Annual season tickets cost from £752.45.
“It’s relaxing, reliable and faster than most people realise,” says Tom Burke, of Savills Waterfront. He adds that the western shuttle route from Putney to Blackfriars — a journey of 42 minutes — is a boon for City-bound bankers. The extra hop to Canary Wharf takes only another 15 minutes.
Putney to Charing Cross
This stretch of the Thames embraces the most coveted riverside homes —splendid period properties along Chelsea Embankment, modern developments such as Imperial Wharf and Montevetro, and new addresses such as Nine Elms-Vauxhall. At long-disused Lots Road Power Station, 706 homes are being built at Chelsea Waterfront, alongside gardens, three pedestrian bridges across tidal Chelsea Creek and a 660-yard riverside promenade. Prices from £1.7 million. Call 020 7352 8852.
The new Plantation Wharf pier will serve a string of developments along the Battersea to Wandsworth stretch of waterfront, where the river bus is a much-needed transport link because there are no Tube stations. Battersea Reach has a series of dramatic glass-fronted apartment blocks with giant terraces overlooking the river. Prices from £775,000. Call 020 7978 4141.
Residents at Riverside Quarter, further west, have their own river bus pier, Wandsworth Riverside. The scheme sits on a bend of the Thames known as the Wandle Delta, a noted wildlife habitat, and the tranquil setting seems a million miles away from nearby traffic-clogged Wandsworth town centre.
Five Riverside, the latest phase, has 99 apartments in a 15-storey glass-clad tower. Two-bedroom flats cost from £705,000. Call 020 8877 2000.
New homes are also springing up on the north bank of the river opposite, around leafy Hurlingham. With 68 mansion block-style flats, Hurlingham Walk is set around landscaped courtyards. Prices from £700,000. Call St James on 020 8246 4199 for details. The former Kops Brewery has been reincarnated as Fulham Riverside, with 401 homes that are due for completion from 2017. The open area facing the river will have a central communal podium garden, with a 10ft-high waterfall feature and provision for a croquet lawn, table tennis tables and garden chessboard.
The façade of the old brewery, marked by a blue plaque, has been retained. Amenities include a fitness suite and badminton court, 24-hour concierge and underground parking. Prices from £796,995. Call Barratt on 0844 811 4334.
Until recently, the prized strip close to the Palace of Westminster was a home-free zone, but developers are unlocking sites for luxury apartments. Riverwalk House, along from Tate Britain and soaring Millbank Tower, was occupied by the Government Office for London. The Sixties building has been bulldozed to make way for Riverwalk — two curvy new blocks, one 17 storeys high, connected by a central podium, providing 113 homes. Prices from £1.25 million. Call 020 7409 8756.
Meanwhile, the former headquarters of Royal Pharmaceutical Society will soon become Palace View, a Taylor Wimpey development of 69 flats at the foot of Lambeth Bridge.
Guaranteed seats, coffee and free wifi
Aptly named Tim Skipper is a river transport veteran. He has been using river boats to get to work for more than a decade, even before there was a dedicated commuter shuttle between his home in Putney and his office in the City.
“In the early days, the boats were mainly pleasure craft vessels — old and quite slow. If the tide was going the wrong way, it added 20 minutes to your journey. One time, I got stuck in a sand bank. But there has been an enormous improvement in the quality of boats and the service.”
He uses the Thames Clipper Putney to Blackfriars route, which takes about 42 minutes. “Door to door, my journey is a little longer than taking the train, but it is a much better way to commute. I always get a seat. I have a coffee on board, send emails and make telephone calls. Sometimes, I have business meetings on the boat. Clients love it.”
Skipper, 48, owns a recruitment company, Totum, specialising in office personnel for law firms. “It’s a really convivial way to travel,” he says.
“I’ve met at least five people, regular travellers like me, that I now consider close friends. Sometimes on summer evenings, we hop off at Chelsea Harbour on the way home and go for a drink before boarding another boat.”