Team GB’s amazing medal success at the Rio Olympic Games will inspire many home buyers to put good sports facilities at the top of their wish lists. Fortunately, in London, developers are providing plenty of encouragement for us to choose a sporting way of life.
New homes builders know the value of working with the natural environment, plugging into neighbouring parkland and waterways, developing alongside forgotten rivers, disused docks and canals to introduce water sports amenities, jogging and cycle tracks. Some are even adding rooftop swimming pools.
It’s not only Stratford, near the London 2012 Olympic Park, where arenas and facilities are linked to new housing. Lee Valley Regional Park, which stretches from Docklands to Ware in Hertfordshire, now has one of race ace Chris Hoy’s 20 Great Cycle Routes.
We excel as a nation in rowing and riding. Cycling has become much more accessible because of bike-friendly initiatives such as safe superhighways, while opportunities for water sports in London are plentiful these days. As well as the Thames, there are inland docks, lakes, canal basins and reservoirs where regeneration is opening up access to the water for recreational use.
Outer London has new neighbourhoods and country parks, as at 3,750-home Southall Waterside in Ealing, where three new pedestrian bridges across Grand Union Canal will connect the development to 95-acre Minet Country Park.
Rather than merely having an on-site gym in an airless basement, more imaginative new London housing developments offer outdoor exercise areas and even spectacular rooftop running tracks and open-air swimming pools. At Bolingbroke Park, a 212-home scheme in Cockfosters, developer L&Q has created the “trim trail”, an outdoor jogging course that winds through quiet woodland and around a lake. Flats from £360,000, houses from £650,000. Call 03330 033 637.
Rowing: learn how — and live by the river
Several new housing schemes are being built on the semi-rural banks of the Thames between Putney and Mortlake, famous for rowing and the annual Oxford v Cambridge Boat Race. Fulham Reach — a 750-home scheme where river-facing two-bedroom flats cost from £1,229,950 — has its own boat club that runs a community programme for local residents who want to learn how to row. Call St George on 020 7870 9500.
At Queen’s Wharf, Hammersmith, moments from the headquarters of British Rowing, the sport’s official governing body, apartments cost from £715,000. Call 020 3740 1216.
Reservoirs that were once out of bounds, but are now designated Sites of Metropolitan Importance, have become popular with Londoners seeking to shake off the sweat of the city.
Woodberry Down, a new neighbourhood of 4,600 homes on the site of a bulldozed council estate, sits in Zone 2 and occupies an awesome, unexpected setting alongside two vast reservoirs and the New River in N4.
North London Sailing Association is based there and offers accredited courses, training sessions and races for all ages and abilities. In addition to sailing, canoeing and kayaking, there is open water swimming and triathlon training, plus a nature reserve with a jogging trail. A new phase of waterside apartments called Nature Collection has been unveiled, with prices starting at £475,000. Call Berkeley Homes on 020 8895 9918.
Hendon Waterside, with 2,000 new homes on 30 acres, borders the giant Welsh Harp reservoir, a Site of Special Scientific Interest and home to a canoe club. Vista, the latest phase, is a 26-storey tower with two-bedroom water-view apartments priced from £489,500. Call 0844 811 4321.
Greenwich Yacht Club flourished even when Greenwich Peninsula was a dirty gasworks. The area is now being transformed into a glossy riverside district with 15,000 homes and lots of leisure amenities. Flats at Millennium Terrace, adjacent to the yacht club, cost from £410,000. Call 020 8305 2712.
Multi-sport homes: sail, swim, run, box
With a backdrop of big skies, awesome riverscapes and glamorous high-rise buildings, Docklands is a superb place to keep fit, as the annual London Marathon proves. As well as miles of designated running routes, there are several boat clubs. Docklands Sailing and Watersports Centre sits alongside South Quay Plaza, a new mixed development with 888 homes designed by architects Foster + Partners. An outdoor exercise area, including a running path, is being created in the one-and-a-half acres of public space. Prices from £695,000. Call 020 3627 9657.
New Providence Wharf, an eight-and-a-half-acre scheme near the Canary Wharf dealing rooms, offers an on-site athletics track, a boxing ring, a 25-metre pool and spa. Shared-ownership flats are available. Prices from £407,500. Call Genesis (020 3773 1509).
The Junction, where penthouses cost from £740,000, looms over Shadwell Basin Outdoor Activity Centre, which offers not just watersports but also high ropes climbing courses and mountain biking. Call Telford Homes on 020 3538 4859. The same developer is selling homes next to the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford, where there is a hockey and tennis complex alongside the main stadium, Velodrome and Aquatics Centre. Three-bedroom flats cost from £795,000.
Prospect East, bordering the Olympic Park on the cheaper Leyton side, has two-bedroom flats starting at £469,950. Call 020 8003 1718.
Aim high, live fast: climbing or cycling
Civil engineer Joel Waugh, 31, and project manager Sian Mayhew, 29, both keen rock climbers, left a rented flat in Brixton to buy near Victoria Park in east London because it was close to Mile End Climbing Wall. “The climbing centre’s right on the canal bank opposite our apartment at Titanium Point — so it’s hugely convenient and great for preparation for our climbing holidays abroad,” says Joel.
The couple used the low-deposit Help to Buy scheme to purchase their £400,000 flat through Guinness Homes. Call 0300 456 0522.
A new £20 million leisure centre, part of the Elephant and Castle makeover, offers Southwark residents free swimming and gym sessions. The area’s wider regeneration is creating pedestrian and cycle links to refurbished and upgraded Burgess Park, a 113-acre expanse with a dedicated 5km running route marked by butterfly motifs to celebrate the famous Camberwell Beauty, a rare species identified in the area in 1748.
An old public baths, now a boxing gym, is part of the park, along with a popular BMX biking track. Harvard Gardens is one of the nearby new apartment schemes. Prices from £412,000. Call 0333 033 3640.