The autumn launches continue across London with the allure of the Thames and the capital's other waterways attracting buyers. A river view gives city dwellers a new perspective and takes away the claustrophobia of too many hugger-mugger tall buildings
From Canary Wharf in the east to Kew in the west, new waterfront apartments cast their spell, transforming former industrial land which has lain dead for decades. They rise up in central London to offer the widest choice in riverside homes for years, including a stunning 50-storey skyscraper at Vauxhall that is trumpeted as the most luxurious waterfront high-rise London has ever seen.
The Southside set
Cautious homebuyers anxious to pay the "right" price can be reassured that riverside homes are not just holding their value but are in some cases rising. Estate agents are reporting an active and resilient waterfront market.
"More people are living along the central stretch of the Thames in London than ever before in the city's history. We are achieving all-time highs," according to James Hyman, a partner at Cluttons.
The riverside architects are creating whole-lifestyle homes (why would you want to get your car out again once you have parked up for the night?) and are surrounding these new apartment blocks with their own local landscaped promenades, cafés, boutiques and galleries. And there is glamour in the sky as you look up to penthouses with wraparound balconies. The waterfront has become a convivial place to live.
'The lively arts scene and modern homes on offer have given addresses such as Bankside an edge'
The success and transformation of our old dockland is most evident in the statistics. Our Thames-side paths attract more than 20 million walkers, joggers, cyclists and tourists. The river is used by about 2,000 private boats, and even cruise ships are coming in.
Continuing development is changing the traditional north/south divide. The south side, once seen as the poor relation, now attracts the Kensington and Chelsea set - and is becoming increasingly attractive to middle-aged downsizers coming in from the country, attracted by the cultural South Bank.
This lively arts scene and the striking modern apartments on offer have given addresses such as Bankside an edge. South-side values are even nudging ahead, and the latest high-rise at Vauxhall aims to set a new benchmark.
Called, simply The Tower, it has 223 private flats priced from £700,000 - or up to £2,000 a sq ft, which doubles the current going rate along this part of the river. Not that a price list is openly available. St George, the developer, has built a plush marketing suite alongside a hole in the ground where the circular skyscraper will stand when complete in 2014.
Viewings are by appointment only. Potential buyers who pass the vetting process study a selection of apartments to match their budget. Much is being made of the splendid views from each apartment, which have been captured by helicopter photography and at the press of a button are conjured up on a big plasma screen.
Most expensive is the Westminster aspect, followed by Pimlico and Battersea. Apartments at the back of the building facing the grubby Vauxhall hinterland have a South Downs outlook.
Living spaces are bigger than average. The cheapest apartment - called Manhattan - is a 641 sq ft studio-type space with a sliding wall concealing the bedroom. Three-bedroom apartments extend to more than 2,500 sq ft, while a trophy triplex at the top of the building has 9,500 sq ft of space.
All these comfort-cooled apartments have superb Bulthaup kitchens, marble-lined bathrooms, bespoke shelving and an AV system that dims the lights, controls the heating and plays music and movies. Lacquered doors are another luxury touch, as are kitted-out laundry rooms. Floor-to-ceiling glazing has motorised exterior aluminium blinds to avoid messy window treatments.
The complex will be run by Harrods Management along the lines of a deluxe hotel, with valet-parking, spa, business lounge, meeting rooms and private dining facilities - a focus on "service" that goes down well with the international business set.
St George has been trying to bag buyers at roadshows in Moscow and Southeast Asia, but says enquiries in advance of this week's London launch suggest serious domestic interest, too. Staged payments totalling 25 per cent are required before completion. Call 020 7042 7700.
The big question is whether the development and its pricey lifestyle package can overcome the negative of the location and lure the big-budget buyers. Vauxhall is not Knightsbridge. Back from the river, the area is scruffy and rough. Yet it is also the gateway to Nine Elms, which will be London's main riverside regeneration zone over the next 20 years - a glittering new district with the cachet of a new US embassy.
The price is right down river
Riverside living is not restricted to rich buyers. River-view flats start at about £250,000 at Royal Arsenal in Woolwich and from about £350,000 in Rotherhithe, a handy halfway point between Docklands and the West End. For some buyers, the water rather than the address is the main attraction.
Prices are lowest east of Canary Wharf, where the riverfront still has an industrial character. Docklands in general is cheaper because it is slightly disconnected from central London. Yet if you want to live in a waterfront setting, it has some of the most dramatic riverscapes.
Glass-fronted apartments just released at Greenwich Creekside have views of both the river and the gracious old naval town. Prices start from £240,000. For more details call Telford Homes on 020 8694 8186.
Wapping is close to the City and has charm and authenticity - historic warehouses, cobbled streets and famous inns - yet the district is a little cut off and has fallen out of favour in recent years, meaning there is good value to be had.
Coming soon is 21 Wapping Lane, the area's biggest development in more than a decade. Comprising four buildings with "staggered elevations" resembling the rigging and masts of tall ships, it will have 382 homes. Prices from £242,500. Call King Sturge on 020 7715 9700.
Kew Bridge is another imminent launch - 164 riverside apartments overlooking the famous Royal Botanic Gardens. Prices start from £469,950 and go up to £2.2 million. Call 020 8995 6669.
According to estate agent Knight Frank, which has set up a riverside division in response to burgeoning demand, there are more than 40 developments between Putney and Westminster.
A price gap is opening up between older schemes and fancy new ones but location still drives price. Benbow House, a 10-year old scheme next to Tate Modern at Bankside, has a waiting list of buyers. About £800,000 is the entry price for a two-bedroom apartment.