A home beside the Thames in central London may be beyond your budget but take a hike along Regent’s Canal towpath and you’ll see that a new wave of waterfront housing is on its way.
The canal snakes nine miles from Paddington in the west to Limehouse in the east, through some of London’s most fashionable districts.
It wasn’t always like this. When built in the 1820s, it skirted the edges of a more compact city, passing noisy, polluting factories and coal heaps. But redevelopment of these long-derelict sites is well under way. What started as a new homes trickle in the Nineties has turned into a flood.
The canal has auspicious origins. Renowned architect John Nash, one of its promoters, persuaded the Prince Regent, later King George IV, to back the project, hence the canal’s name.
Canal basins that were built at King’s Cross, Camden, Angel and Shoreditch to help the flow of freight are the main focus of development. Architects are designing new homes, loft-style workspaces and waterfront community cafés that dovetail with listed warehouses and wharves.
Gasholders London, beside the canal at King’s Cross, is a spectacular example of industrial-age structures being transformed into new homes. Drum-shaped blocks with 145 wedge-shaped flats are being built within the decorative restored framework of three listed gasholders. Circular walkways will overlook an open-air internal courtyard. One of the gasholders will have a communal roof garden, while the roofs of the other two blocks will form private terraces for duplex penthouses. Prices from £810,000. Call 020 3504 6933.
Onyx Apartments are also part of the new N1C postcode at 67-acre King’s Cross Central, with 117 canalside flats including glass-walled penthouses. Call Cushman and Wakefield on 020 7355 8172.
A NOD TO VENICE
Regeneration is transforming nine-acre City Road Basin on the Islington/Hackney border into a landscaped new quarter with 900 homes, businesses, leisure space, marina and boat club. Like Venice, it is the setting for a Canaletto — not a painting but a 31-storey tower designed by Dutch architects, UNStudio. There are 190 flats, three storeys of amenity space including a spa and private cinema, a Manhattan-style “club lounge” and a sky garden. Three-bedroom penthouses, priced from £3.2 million, have been unveiled. Call 020 7718 5227.
Research by estate agent Knight Frank shows the Hackney section of the canal has the lowest property prices. City Wharf, at Wenlock Basin, comprises 327 flats in a linear group of warehouse-style blocks with communal roof terraces and courtyard gardens on the water’s edge. Kitchens have a wine fridge as standard, and there is storage for 300 bikes. Prices from £825,000. Call 020 3858 2537.
PLAY A STARRING ROLE
Also on this stretch, Gainsborough Studios, an arty enclave of flats and workspaces where Alfred Hitchcock made six movies, and nearby Shoreditch Park, are among attractions. A magnificent sculptural head of the master of suspense is on public view. Firms of architects, designers and digital start-ups are settling into the quiet backstreets. And there is a sprinkling of gastropubs, one with a noted theatre.
Looming over the canal on the site of a former printworks, is Hoxton Press — 198 flats in two hexagonal-shaped towers clad in neat Belgian bricks that blend with the area’s historic fabric. These bigger-than-average flats have floor-to-ceiling glazing and sheltered terraces for year-round use. Completion is in spring 2018. Prices from £500,000. Call 020 7526 9229.
New homes are also springing up along posher parts of the canal towards Little Venice. St Edmund’s Terrace, a gated development of 36 tasteful flats across three pavilion buildings linked by landscaped courtyards and a glass-covered walkway, has been built on the site of a former Thames Water reservoir. Clad in Portland stone and bronze, the modern architecture fits neatly into its leafy surroundings. Big open-plan apartments have contemporary-design interiors, with an underground car park and a basement spa complex including a swimming pool and gym. Prices from £4.2 million. Call 020 7861 5321.