London’s biggest new regeneration project: the launch of Greenwich's riverside district, with 15,000 homes

All eyes will soon be on this riverside district as plans for a lively 24-hour community with 15,000 new homes is under way.
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The historic naval town of Greenwich will be thrust into the global spotlight later this month when runners in the Virgin Money London Marathon set off from Greenwich Park against a marvelous backdrop of Christopher Wren architecture, the bending River Thames and the gleaming skyscrapers of Canary Wharf.

On the way to Woolwich, the first stage of the race, runners will skirt past Greenwich Peninsula, a seemingly uninviting tract of waterfront land, recognisable as the home of the O2 arena.

But how many people know this is the site of London’s biggest single regeneration project? A place where a fresh master plan for a new 15,500-home neighbourhood has been unveiled?


The vision for this area was conceived when John Major was prime minister and it was later embraced by Tony Blair. The former Labour leader endorsed the building of the Millennium Dome, a giant Big Top, as a symbol of optimism in London’s future in the spirit of the 1951 Festival of Britain, calling it a “triumph of confidence over cynicism, boldness over blandness, excellence over mediocrity”. 

But the vision turned sour. The Dome still exists as an entertainment venue, but the plan lost its way, making piecemeal progress with new waterfront flats and not much else to commend it except, of course, the spectacular cable car link across the Thames to Docklands.

But that vision is back, turning itself into reality under the guidance of Chinese developer Knight Dragon. It bought the 150-acre site two years ago and plans to join up the fragmented hinterland and build five “villages”, knitted together by civic squares and landscaping displaying public art and a 1.5-mile riverside promenade.

Enticing visitors
Leisure and recreation will be at the heart of this 24-hour community with bars, restaurants and visitor attractions. It will have London’s first major new film studios, incorporating a digital arts hub and a Japanese-style, multi-storey golf driving range. 

Luxury hotels, including an InterContinental with a giant ballroom for corporate entertainment, will open later this year, while it is hoped attractions will lure business from the West End.

Unlike Canary Wharf at its inception, Greenwich Peninsula will be built for families. There will be schools, crèches and a modern village hall with landscaping and river walks where the community can enjoy this big-sky environment. 

International famous architects are working on the project, and British artist Conrad Shawcross has been commissioned to design a beguiling metallic sculpture as part of a new low carbon energy centre.
Glass-clad skyscrapers are under construction, available to buy off-plan now. Prices start at £300,000 for a studio and rise to £1.95 million for a penthouse. Call 020 3713 6153.

Modern masterpiece: the Waterman and Fulmar towers at Greenwich Peninsula

Waterman Tower, which has just launched, has flats with corner balconies providing dual-aspect views, plus a communal roof garden and residents’ club with a cinema, while Aperture, the contemporary design community building, has a café and deli, nursery, event space, prayer rooms and a two-storey gym.

Leading British designer Tom Dixon has put his name to a “limited edition” of flats and double-height, loft-style apartments at Upper Riverside, one of the five quarters. These homes include penthouses with up to 2,385sq ft of space and 2,350sq ft of terracing.

“We’ve tried to bring in some warmth and realness, and make the apartments less international-looking and a bit more British,” says Dixon, who has come up with custom-made copper kitchens and anodised rolled steel baths. 

Residents will be able to use London’s highest swimming pool, part of a glass-walled spa with views of Canary Wharf.

So who wants to live in this new Eden? A surprising mix of people, according to estate agent CBRE, which is selling homes to young professionals, families and middle-aged downsizers from all over London.

“With homes typically costing £650 to £800 per square foot, Greenwich Peninsula screams good value compared with the western side of London,” the estate agent say. The axis with Canary Wharf on the opposite bank of the Thames seems unbreakable.

Movers: the Nellicherry family bought a three-bedroom duplex with views across one of the new parks

Family appeal
Sanjeev and Sharmilee Nellicherry lived in New York for 16 years before coming to the UK to work for multinationals at Canary Wharf. They had been renting, unsure where to put down roots, and after visiting the plans for Greenwich Peninsula, decided to buy a three-bedroom duplex with views across one of the new parks.

With two children, one at school in Blackheath, the couple wanted to live in a safe, clean neighbourhood buzzing with activity — and with good investment prospects.

“It’s a fresh and exciting place, with lots of activities, and the riverfront too, which is special, and a lot cheaper than central London,” they say.

Matthew Ma, 33, is another fan of this emerging district. He works for a Canary Wharf bank and currently lives in Shadwell, but was quick to buy a two-bedroom flat on the 24th floor of a new tower.

“The location, the quality of the architecture and the landscaping and all the restaurants and leisure places are coming together nicely. I’m convinced it’s a good area for a home and an investment,” he says.

The weakest link
The local Jubilee line station provides a quick and direct link with central London and Canary Wharf. But with 28,000 people expected to live and work in the district, plus thousands of vistors coming to Greenwich every year, transport connectivity may prove to be Greenwich Peninsula’s weakness. The Crossrail station coming to Canary Wharf will help and there is a plan to boost the River Bus service.

When approached by road, the Peninsula looks dreary, while the route to Blackwall Tunnel is busy and noisy. Eyesores will take years to disappear, but Trafalgar Road, the main vehicle route out of Greenwich, is smartening up, while a riverfront strip will feature developments such as Enderby Wharf, where Barratt is building 770 homes priced from £595,000. Call 0844 8114334.

The site was first developed in the 18th century and was later used to manufacture the first transatlantic telecommunications cables and a cross-Channel petrol pipeline to support the D-Day invasion. A cruise liner terminal is earmarked here, which would be a game changer for the neighbourhood.

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