The Docklands "Diamond": first family homes in Canary Wharf are unveiled

The new vision for Canary Wharf's 98-acre financial zone includes a large-scale extension of the district that will bring thousands of new homes to coincide with the arrival of Crossrail.
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The first homes to be built within the boundaries of Canary Wharf will be unveiled tomorrow, part of a new vision for the 98-acre financial zone where a string of global banks have their headquarters.

Canary Wharf is synonymous with Docklands but is in fact a private estate with its own “ring-of-steel” security cordon.

Since its creation more than 25 years ago, Canary Wharf’s various owners avoided building housing on the estate as offices were the priority. Songbird, the current owner, has changed tack and is poised to start a large-scale extension of the district that will bring thousands of new homes, including townhouses as well as flats to encourage more families to the area.



Newfoundland Tower
is the first of these projects, a 58-storey skyscraper with 566 apartments plus shops and a health club. It marks a new phase in the evolution of Canary Wharf, which is confidently back in its stride after the dark days of the Lehman banking  collapse six years ago.

Nicknamed “The Diamond” because of the repeat diamond-shape pattern of its steel-and-glass exterior, the tower will soar 218 metres. Completion is scheduled for 2018 to coincide with the opening of the local Crossrail station, expected to be a game-changer for Canary Wharf as it will provide a direct and quick link to the West End and Heathrow airport.


Newfoundland Tower, nicknamed "The Diamond" after its exterior pattern, is a 58-storey blcok with 566 flats - the first new Canary Wharf homes

Songbird’s expansion plans include at least 3,000 new homes at 23-acre Wood Wharf, a giant residential, retail and office scheme expected to commence later this year. The first phase is made up of 884 homes in three buildings. Homes on the site will range from luxury penthouses to townhouses plus affordable housing and low-rise live-work accommodation.

“What we are seeing is the next stage in the evolution of Canary Wharf and east London,” says Tony Usher, associate director of property consultant JLL. These glamorous new homes are also expected to take Canary Wharf to a new level of pricing, more in line with the City and Nine Elms.

Since emerging as a rival to the Square Mile financial centre in the Eighties, Canary Wharf has grown spectacularly. The working population has risen from 8,000 to more than 100,000 and this figure is projected to double by 2025. There are more than 300 shops, bars and restaurants, a multi-screen cinema and concert hall.

Canary Wharf’s commercial success has encouraged a residential boom in the surrounding Isle of Dogs area. This is continuing, with more major projects bringing another 6,000 new homes.

Berkeley Homes is progressing plans for South Quay Plaza, with 800 homes, while The Helix, next to Poplar Dock, will have 345 flats for rent. Ballymore’s Arrowhead Quay at Marsh Wall will have 792 flats in two towers.


From £500,000: Dollar Bay flats in the "halo, 10 minutes' walk from Canary Wharf

In reality, this part of Docklands is an alternative London. It has more in  common with downtown Chicago or Singapore than with the City, Kensington, Putney or Highgate. Average earnings per head top £100,000, the highest in the country, and the population is young — 85 per cent are in the 16-44 age bracket, made up predominantly of singles and childless couples.

However, as the neighbourhood matures and the infrastructure gets better, more prams and families will be seen. New schools — a missing ingredient and one of the area’s big weaknesses — are on the  horizon, too.

Isle of Dogs, in which Canary Wharf sits, is formed by that great U-bend in the Thames. By the end of the Seventies, following closure of the old docks, it was a wasteland. But blessed with vast tracts of water and quayside, a renaissance was guaranteed. 

This was spearheaded by the government-appointed London Docklands Development Corporation, which set up an enterprise zone to attract firms.Light industrial premises and low-rise utilitarian office blocks were built on land that was almost given away.

By the time the Docklands Light Railway arrived in 1987, these first-generation buildings were already being bulldozed. They no longer earned their keep in the rapidly appreciating land market, and their removal paved the way for today’s swish skyscrapers. One of these, Galliard’s premier-spec 450ft Baltimore Tower, occupies a prime plot next to Crossharbour DLR station and offers executive suites plus one- to three-bedroom apartments. Prices from £480,000. Call 020 3740 9876.

Isle of Dogs has a number of micro markets, of which Canary Wharf is the most important. Homes within the “halo” — a 10-minute walk to the dealing rooms — are the most coveted. This extended zone boasts walk-to-work convenience and the best of the older and new apartment schemes.

Yet prices are relatively low by central London standards, ranging from about £700 to £1,200 a square foot. This means you can buy a swanky waterfront flat with a budget of less than £500,000, while if you can stretch to £1 million or more, you can live in a penthouse.

Dollar Bay is another new skyscraper coming to this E14 postcode - 121 apartments with full-height, glass-walled winter gardens that aim to bring in the light. There will be a 24-hour concierge, a sky lounge and gym plus underground parking and cycle storage. Prices from £500,000. Completion is due in 2017. Call developer Mount Anvil on 0845 077 9069. Up the road at South Quay is Lincoln Plaza, which offers good-value flats priced from £397,000. Call Galliard on 020 7620 1500.

Venture away from this heartland and Isle of Dogs becomes less enticing. There were few riverside warehouses to convert and the early wave of housing is generally unexceptional.

Parkside Quarter is a new development of 64 flats on the edge of 32-acre Mudchute Park, which has a popular city farm. Prices from £425,000. Call Telford Homes on 020 7531 5219.

From there it takes seven minutes on the DLR to Canary Wharf, where the prospect of Crossrail is spurring buyers to get in early, say estate agents. Journeys to Liverpool Street will take six minutes, to Bond Street eight minutes and to Heathrow 39 minutes.


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