Royal Docks leads the way: London’s biggest batch of new family houses since the Eighties has been launched in Docklands

Architects are striving to create thousands of lower-cost, future-proof new homes in this waterside London district where values are still 30 per cent cheaper than in neighbouring Canary Wharf.
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London’s biggest batch of new family houses since the Eighties has been launched in Docklands, so eventually there will be 3,385 homes at Royal Wharf. The first location will consist of 310 houses in a new riverside district next door to Canary Wharf. 

The neighbourhood’s layout is classic, inspired by Georgian design principles with first-floor drawing rooms. Architects Glenn Howells have taken their cue from aristocratic landowners such as Bedford Estate in Bloomsbury, where homes are laid out in an uncomplicated street pattern, or grid, with squares, public gardens and parks. Royal Wharf will have its own primary school plus a DLR station that will plug into Crossrail.

Nearly 50 per cent of this mainly low-rise neighbourhood will be open green space, with outdoor areas specifically designed to promote health and fitness, with activities co-ordinated from the on-site leisure complex. The idea is for outdoor yoga, circuit training, jogging and cycling to take place on landscaped green spaces, paths and by the riverside.

Take a tour: London's latest new-build townhouses and family homes

Family-friendly designs
Alan McCartney, an architect at Glenn Howells, says of Royal Wharf: “From a grand hallway, a staircase leads to a high-ceilinged first-floor lounge, with views across the open spaces. 

“At ground level is a large open-plan kitchen-diner with bi-folding doors opening out to a private garden — a floor plan that goes down well with young families. The houses also have roof terraces large enough for toddlers to play safely, and have been designed for families to grow into, without the need for an extension.”

Prices start at £695,000. Larger four-bedroom houses with up to 2,457sq ft of space cost £1.1 million. Call 0808 118 1987. Construction is under way and the first homes will be ready next year. 

Located in a former industrial zone close to the Thames Barrier, the address is raw and challenging. However, sweeping transformation is mapped out over the next decade. For the long-term investor, this is a chance to buy early. At the moment, values are 30 per cent cheaper than homes around the river bend at Canary Wharf.
From £494,995: three-bedroom townhouses at The Aboretum in Epping include first-floor lounge to balcony. Call 0844  406 9800

Townhouse turnaround
A decade ago, new-build houses in London were disappearing, with fewer than 1,100 under construction and only 155 in inner boroughs.

Today about 10,000 are in the pipeline and many are available now to move in to. But planning priorities have changed from creating small apartments for singles and  childless couples to building family homes to keep parents in the capital to provide more balanced communities.

This policy initiative is continuing. Ahead of May’s general election, the Royal Institution of British Architects (RIBA) has launched a Build a Better Britain campaign. It is urging politicians to focus on the built environment with a particular emphasis on creating well-planned spaces as well as energy-efficient family homes.

“Well-designed townhouses do not have to cost a fortune — and they can help boost regeneration in run-down areas by attracting families, who demand better schools, libraries,  parks and neighbourhood shops,”  says RIBA. Developers have had to fall in line with planners’ wishes and, to their delight, have discovered huge, unsatisfied demand for thoughtfully- designed houses. 

Housing associations at Epping are boosting the numbers, too, making cheaper new houses available, sometimes on a shared ownership basis, as at The Arboretum in Epping, east London. 

This is a rare new-build scheme  bordering the ancient forest and only a 15-minute walk to the Central line Tube station in the market town, which has an18th century high street and some prized listed buildings. The three-bedroom houses cost  from £494,995. Call L&Q on 0844  406 9800.

Breaking Tradition
New houses are for rent at 67-acre East Village, part of Queen Elizabeth II Park in Stratford. In this area the homes sit alongside parklands, play areas, wild flower meadows and wetlands, while private courtyards provide a safe retreat for children. Renting starts at £600 a week for a four-bedroom townhouse. Call 020 3714 8083.

Modern lifestyles are shaping the design of this new generation of houses, and there is a decisive shift away from the traditional idea of the house as a box with defined rooms for sleeping, eating and relaxing. “Buyers want the new property to have exciting design elements and also to chime with the way they live,” says Tony Travers, director of developer Countryside.

The group is focusing on family homes in outer travel zones with gardens, roof terraces, bedrooms with luxury en suite bathrooms, audio-visual treats such as a home cinema and iPod docks, and environmentally-friendly features, such as solar panels. However, affordable family houses are still in the shortest supply, according to the National Association of Estate Agents.

“The latent demand for this property type in London is vast and growing steadily, which pushes prices up,” says Mark Wilkinson, partner at Knight Frank. And the most demand is for the  mid-market £500,000-£800,000  price bracket.

£749,995: The Old Dairy at Streatham features attic-style master bedrooms. Call 0845  548 3016

Where to look
Kings Park in east London is a new parkland estate being built next to Harold Wood train station, which will be on the Crossrail line (42 minutes to Bond Street). Three-bedroom  houses cost from £475,000. Call  01708 348578.

Millbrook Park, Mill Hill, is a new 14-acre neighbourhood on the site of a former barracks where townhouses will be released later this year. A park runs through the site with play areas for children. A new primary school has opened, too. To register, call 020 8371 9269.

At The Old Dairy in Streatham, good-sized townhouses (up to 1,648sq ft) with open-plan spaces and a high-ceiling attic-style master bedroom  cost £749,995. Call Bellway on 0845  548 3016.

Edgware Green, bordering the Metropolitan Green Belt in north-west London, has big four-bedroom townhouses (the smallest is 1,900sq ft) priced from £720,000, with the help-to-buy deposit scheme available. Call Barratt on 0844 811 4334.

Energy efficient Cobalt Place, Battersea, is producing the most  highly-rated, energy-efficient family homes in London, due to an advanced form of timber construction that reduces the amount of energy needed to heat the building by 40 per cent, while also improving air quality and cutting noise pollution.

The three-storey, triple-glazed houses have an outer layer of warm brick, while a white open-plan interior on the ground floor links to a walled private garden. Prices from £1,150,000. Call Lend Lease on 020 8879 9099.

There's locks of appeal
Canalside townhouses are part of 11-acre Brentford Lock West, a regeneration project in west London that involves upgrading the waterfront and providing allotments for residents’ use. The houses are set around a new town square and have up to five bedrooms and basement parking. Prices from £950,000. Call 020 8569 7449.

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