Yet despite these huge projects, London continues to have a supply shortage. Analysis released this week by property consultant Knight Frank predicts a 36 per cent homes shortfall over the next decade.
While there will be demand for 264,000 private new homes in Greater London; the number of new homes built is likely to be nearer 170,000. In central London, where supply is even more constrained (only 13,904 homes are in the pipeline), there will be a 56 per cent shortfall.
Developers are not slow to trumpet the benefits of new build: low-maintenance and energy-efficient homes with the latest interior design and floorplans that suit modern lifestyles, plus structural warranties and a painless transaction process. But resist the dazzle and promotional gloss, especially when buying off-plan. This is the biggest transaction most of us are going to make and no-one should be panicked by short supply.
On the other hand in these tough economic times, developers have had to raise their game. For buyers, value for money is the new battle cry and sensible buyers will do their homework, compare the build, the prices and chose the home and the location that offers something different and above all — quality for the right price.
The Square Mile’s eastern fringe will be one of the capital’s hotspots during the next five years, says the research department at Knight Frank, which bullishly forecasts 118 per cent price growth by the end of 2016.
For two decades London’s centre of gravity has been shifting east, but beyond expectation, the pace of change has accelerated since the onset of the credit crunch in 2008. Whereas the eastern fringe used to be in the shadow of the City, it is now in the spotlight, with new residential and office towers going up around the Spitalfields/Shoreditch hub of dotcom and creative-sector companies.
Aldgate East and Whitechapel
These are in the cheapest district in travel zone one. Planners have reinvented the area as a commercial quarter called Eastside. One Commercial Street, a 21-storey tower with 137 apartments, is right at the centre of this. Vying with City skyscrapers such as the Gherkin, it is being built above Aldgate East station and faces Aldgate Place, a swish new office complex with a park and piazza. Homes at the top of One Commercial Street, which will have a hotel-style reception and 24-hour concierge service, are launching tomorrow — 13 flats priced from £465,000. Others will be released for sale later. Completion is due in spring 2014. Call DTZ on 020 3296 4043.
Amwell Street delights
Few London districts have the authentic village-like charm of the conservation area surrounding Amwell Street — a delightful little neighbourhood lying between Clerkenwell, King’s Cross and Angel. The street itself is lined with classic Georgian houses and shops with original fronts and residential upper parts above. There is not one familiar high street brand name among the 25 shops, an eclectic mix serving the everyday needs of locals.
Alongside the Georgiana is attractive Victorian housing, cobbled mews, Edwardian tenements, Deco factory conversions and a few housing trust blocks.
One of the best addresses is New River Head, the imposing former headquarters of Thames Water, right next to Sadler’s Wells Theatre. Fourteen new apartments have been built at 28 Amwell Street, formerly a Water Board accommodation block, which backs on to the communal gardens of New River Head. Two-bedroom apartments cost from £750,000. Call 020 7717 5456.
The Loxfords, in nearby Highbury Park, brings a rare collection of 82 apartments and townhouses to a previously hidden plot in this leafy corner of north London, popular with families and City professionals. A new park has been created within the 2.5 acre grounds.
As well as new-build homes, high-ceiling apartments have been carved from the original Victorian mansion. Prices start at £395,000. Townhouses with contemporary-design interiors (walnut and glass) and tastefully landscaped gardens cost from £1.4 million. Call estate agent Thomson Currie on 020 7226 0000.
While the East London line extension through Hackney has caused big property ripples, with new hubs forming around four new stations, a much older transport artery — the canal system — is proving as big a regeneration catalyst.
Canalside locations tend to be a little raw because of the industrial legacy, but have the potential to become convivial, eco-friendly addresses — calming, car-free havens with less pollution and noise.
Kingsland Basin, off Regent’s Canal is a hidden gem being turned into a smart new waterside community with 207 new homes, a health centre, cafés, shops and loft-style offices, already attracting creative types priced out of nearby Clerkenwell.
The £65 million redevelopment includes the restoration of two listed stable buildings (once providing horse-drawn carriages for hire — the original “Hackney carriages”), which are being turned into studios and workshops for small businesses.
The canal is being opened up for recreational use, with eco-zones on the edges of the basin planted with native species to attract birds and other wildlife to the area.
De Beauvoir Wharf is one of three new apartment blocks, a modern architectural take on traditional wharves and warehouses, where homes have been released for sale. Prices start at £295,000. Call 0844 406 9299 or visit kingslandwharves.co.uk.
This is the age of the train station
Railway stations are very much part of London’s new homes vision. Network Rail is working up proposals for hundreds of properties around Waterloo, London Bridge and Euston stations.
The move chimes with Boris Johnson’s priority for new homes at transport hubs — and is likely to bury for good the stigma of living near a train station. As well as improved passenger facilities, the immediate area around the stations will get a facelift and residential values could get a big boost.
Ipsus, a developer curiously named after a famous battle fought by the ancient Greeks, has launched a scheme of 41 apartments above a listed “drum tower” that once provided access to deep-level underground tunnels at Clapham South Tube station. The cylindrical-shaped structure has been refurbished and its trademark Thirties architecture used as a design reference for the apartment building — crisp and contemporary, with sleek white finishes outside and in.
The drum and tunnels were famously used as air raid shelters during the Blitz, and later as temporary accommodation for London’s first Caribbean immigrants, who arrived soon after the war. Most recently the tunnels were used for archive storage.
Called Ipsus 07 (it’s the developer’s seventh major project of this type) its apartments are above-average in size, with generous outside space — one of the penthouses has a fabulous 911sq ft wraparound terrace. Prices from £350,000. Call Hamptons International on 020 7758 8487.