© Rex Features
Of all the splendid settings and iconic landmarks thrust into the spotlight by the London Olympics, none was more beautiful than Greenwich Park — the undisputed star venue for many.
From an elevated position, the equestrian events were played out against a spectacular backdrop of Wren’s Old Royal Naval College, the perfect symmetry of Inigo Jones’s Queen’s House — Britain’s first great classical building — with the sweeping Thames and gleaming skyscrapers of Canary Wharf beyond. There could not have been a more dazzling blend of the historic and the sparkling new.
The impact on the old naval town has been immense, with hundreds of thousands of visitors sampling its cultural and Thames-side environment, and being attracted to its residential charm.
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Greenwich became a newly conferred “Royal Borough” this year, reflecting a royal connection dating back 600 years which is celebrated in a major new exhibition — Royal River: Power, Pageantry and The Thames — at the National Maritime Museum.
Since 1997, Maritime Greenwich has been a Unesco World Heritage Site because it is the “finest and most dramatically sited architectural and landscape assembly in the British Isles”.
This summer has seen the re-opening of Cutty Sark, the world-renowned clipper ship devastated by fire in 2007, while a dramatic new cable car, the Emirates Air Line, spans the Thames to link Greenwich with Docklands.
For many years, a pedestrian tunnel was the only quick route between Greenwich and Isle of Dogs. Opened in 1902, the tunnel replaced an unreliable ferry service and allowed dockers living south of the river to reach the shipyards.
Though a convenient enough stroll under the Thames, it was hardly a modern commuter link. Only when the DLR arrived in the Nineties, followed by the Jubilee line extension, did bankers land in the area, snapping up elegant Georgian houses bordering the park or in nearby Blackheath.
© Nils Jorgensen/Rex Features
It is a fine place to live, cheaper than similar inner suburbs such as Highgate in the north or Richmond in the west (east London has no direct comparison).
Other buyers are now discovering an area that offers homes of all shapes and sizes, ages and prices — from swish riverside apartments to cobbled mews cottages, from Victorian terraces to contemporary-design townhouses.
For those who want to be part of a showpiece new neighbourhood, there is Greenwich Peninsula, dominated by the O2 arena and poised to be transformed into a shiny residential and business district — with up to 10,000 new homes, 3.5 million sq ft of business and retail space, 48 acres of parkland and nature reserves and 1.6 miles of river front — all just 20 minutes on the Tube from the West End. Visit greenwichpeninsula.co.uk.
Developers have lost no time in unveiling new schemes to cash in on the post-Olympics euphoria. Apartments are for sale at a new phase of the Greenwich Millennium Village development right next to Greenwich Yacht Club on Greenwich Peninsula.
Designed by leading architect Jestico and Whiles, they have full-height glazing and are grouped around landscaped courtyards. Priced from £250,000 to 750,000, with completion due in spring 2014. Call 020 8305 2712 or visit gmv.gb.com.
When approached by road, the Peninsula looks uninviting and isolated because of the still-visible industrial legacy and the busy Blackwall Tunnel approach road. Eyesores will take some years to be eliminated, but Trafalgar Road, the main vehicle route out of Greenwich, is smartening up.
Galleries, gastropubs and delis are opening, while former Greenwich District Hospital is to be transformed by developer Hadley Mace into Heart of East Greenwich (right) — an eco-friendly scheme of 645 homes.
Olympics momentum has helped rejuvenate a neglected riverside strip between the town centre and Greenwich Peninsula. For years, the so-called Thames Path has been inaccessible because of depots and disused wharves but a 12-acre waterfront scheme, which stalled during the banking crisis, is now back on track.
Called Lovell’s Wharf, the development sits on a prominent bend of the river, and the bright green laser marking the Meridian Line cuts through the site. The location has the feel of Docklands during the Eighties development boom — slightly raw but offering excitement and promise to early bird buyers. Prices from £250,000. Call Jones Lang LaSalle on 020 8090 0276.
New Capital Quay (left) is a “waterside village” being built in a former dock basin moments from Cutty Sark. When complete next year, the development will have 636 homes across 11 blocks, one a landmark tower, plus townhouses. Prices from £275,000. Call Galliard Homes on 020 7620 1500.
New homes in the area cost between £500 and £700 per square foot, relatively good value by London standards. A development corridor has opened up to the west of the town centre along Greenwich High Road, which runs into Deptford.
This patch is worth exploring. Check out the Ashburnham conservation area, where handsome Victorian terrace houses cost from about £700,000.
A prized Victorian edifice called Paynes & Borthwick Wharves (right) is being redeveloped into 247 flats. With pedestrian access to the Thames blocked, few people have seen the impressive façade of the listed Paynes Wharf, built in 1860 for the manufacture of marine boilers that were loaded on to ships through magnificent Italianate arches.
The body of the restored wharf will be exhibition, commercial and retail space, with new residential and live-work homes built on top. An 18-storey tower of one- to three-bedroom flats is being built alongside and a closed riverside promenade opened up. Launching this autumn, prices will range from £275,000 to £850,000. Email email@example.com.
Blackheath is the plateau at the top of Shooters Hill. Backing on to Greenwich Park, it is sometimes referred to as the “poor man’s Hampstead”, but nonetheless considers itself a cut above. It has a village centre and private roads with detached houses in big plots. Prices are up 10 per cent this year and there are 10 registered buyers for every family house, according to estate agent Winkworth.
Liskeard Villas is a scheme of three large houses with integral garages in a tree-lined road close to the heath and village. The homes are spread over three storeys (in addition to the basement garages) and have handsome brick frontages, clay tile roofs, gabled windows and porches, and front and rear gardens. Priced from £1.95 million. Call Savills on 01689 860999.