Wandsworth, the resolutely Tory borough famous for its low council tax, leafy commons and “Nappy Valley” mums, is acquiring a new profile: urban regeneration specialist.
Work has started on the town centre, where a £1 billion project aims to transform the high street and its ugly, car-clogged one-way system. A £45 million transport “dowry” from developers will go towards creating a new road system.
Ed Mead of estate agent Douglas & Gordon says: “Wandsworth is a good place to live because of the road routes, but these are a blessing and a curse. The problem is that they run along the river and right through the town centre, creating noise and pollution. At the very least the congestion element needs to be tamed.”
Long-delayed redevelopment of historic Ram Brewery, a six-acre site fronting the River Wandle, is a key project. Enclosed by high walls, the brewery has been inaccessible to the public for generations but is set to become an animated waterfront “quarter”, with 669 homes, bars, restaurants, shops and loft-style offices.
Minerva, the developer, has ditched plans for two skyscrapers in favour of a single residential tower alongside restored heritage buildings, including a listed stable block, which will incorporate a museum and micro brewery. For more details, visit therambrewery.com.
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Wandsworth’s demographics have changed in recent years. Since 2000, the 25 to 44 age group has risen from 36 per cent to 44 per cent, while the proportion of under-fives has grown by 33 per cent, according to Experian, a firm of data analysts.
Two-thirds of the population are in the ABC1 socio-economic group — a reason why Waitrose has opened at the Southside shopping mall in the town centre. The brewery development integrates with other town centre schemes.
On a neighbouring site, Mount Anvil has unveiled The Filaments, formerly a factory making gas mantles, which will have 416 homes, launching in spring next year. To register, call 020 7776 1800.
Workspaces for small businesses are also being built at the scheme. These low-cost premises are expected to appeal to accountants, internet entrepreneurs, lawyers, architects and designers who might also live close by and walk or cycle to work.
Lessons have to be learned from Wandsworth’s riverside schemes, some of which are seen as soulless and sterile because they are out on a limb and fail the “where can I buy a pint of milk?” test. The cluster of apartment schemes either side of the heliport is of varying quality — in design, bulk and relationship to the river. There is no handy train or Tube station, though a river taxi service has been extended to Wandsworth.
Point Pleasant, a former industrial strip that cuts back to the river from the town centre, is getting a regeneration boost. Osiers, with 275 homes, is being built on land that was a dockside railway siding. Prices start at £308,000. Call Barratt on 0845 539 0447.
Riverside Quarter is at the end of Point Pleasant, on a bend of the Thames where it meets the Wandle known as the Wandle Delta, a noted wildlife habitat.
This scheme has matured into one of Wandsworth’s most attractive residential estates. More than 200 flats have been built plus moorings for pleasure boats A new phase of 121 flats has been launched. Prices start at £500,000. Call Frasers on 020 8877 2000.