Prince Charles famously and controversially remarked in a 1987 speech to City planners that modern architects had caused more damage to London than the Luftwaffe. His particular geographic focus was the riverside strip between Blackfriars and Southwark bridges, where St Paul’s Cathedral rises majestically in the background.
Then, even critics of the Prince would probably have agreed that this section of historic waterfront was an architectural let-down. Ugly post-1945 buildings butted up against each other and blocked off access to the Thames, while a busy dual carriage way and underpass running alongside the river made the area a virtual no-go zone for pedestrians.
Things started to improve in the Nineties with regeneration of Bankside on the opposite side of the river. Today, thousands of tourists and Square Mile commuters cross the Millennium Bridge between Tate Modern and St Paul’s. The riverbank has become a public space. People live in swish warehouse apartments and lofts nearby.
Sir John Lyon House in EC4 used to be a tea warehouse and offices, built in the Sixties and occupying a thin strip of land at High Timber Street. The building was not special but the position is Venetian-like, perched on the water’s edge.
Developer Riverview Holdings commissioned architect Sidell Gibson to create a modern scheme of 67 private flats in three blocks linked by a glass-enclosed walkway and inner courtyards.
Flats at the non-river side face Upper Thames Street and have clipped views of St Paul’s. Those in the middle block benefit from lightwells and generously sized terraces, while south-facing flats in the riverfront block have full-height glass walls offering a fantastic vista across the Thames to the Globe Theatre, Tate Modern and Oxo Tower.
Prices range from £350,000 for a one-bedroom flat to £4.75 million for a spectacular film-set penthouse with roof terrace. Inevitably, there is a premium to pay for the river-facing flats, which cost up to £1,500 a square foot, twice the price of some others in the development. Two-bedroom flats of more than 1,000sq ft cost from £950,000.
Interiors have slick Poggenpohl kitchens and smart grey-tiled bathrooms.
If you love the urban Thames, you would want to live along this stretch, where you feel intimately part of the river. No surprise then that buyers have tended to be “knowledgeable Londoners” rather than wealthy overseas people.
There is limited private parking and storage cages in the basement can be bought for £10,000.
The developer owns the next-door wharf, which is currently let as office space, but is likely to be similarly transformed in years to come.
For more information, call Riverview Holdings on 020 7248 9747.