It is a pageant that celebrates one of the most famous rivers in the world: the Thames. The event will bring the river to life at a time when waterfront living has never been more alluring or popular, with a record number of homes lining the banks of the Thames.
It would be a shame not to take the chance to view from near and afar the development of the embankment over the past 60 years, with the exciting regeneration of the South Bank, the homes now there to be enjoyed, and to understand the extensive plans for its future. The trend now is for Londoners unable to resist this lively city not to move to the country but to the edges of the Thames for views of this wide and busy river.
On the main stretch between Richmond and Royal Docks are 158 housing schemes — refurbishments of historic wharfs as well as fabulous new-builds — according to Savills, which has set up a waterfront division in response to this growing market.
Developers continue to unlock sites, meaning there are thousands more homes in the pipeline, including prized addresses such as Berkeley’s One Tower Bridge, with 393 apartments, and Broken Wharf House, 36 new apartments at the foot of the Millennium Bridge, facing Tate Modern.
Striking architecture has brought wow-factor penthouses with wraparound terraces opening up vistas of the Thames, while handsome promenades with bars and restaurants, boutiques and galleries have made the waterfront a far more convivial place to live, work and play.
Extra residential moorings and rivertaxi piers are being created and Olympics-related initiatives, such as London Pleasure Gardens in Docklands, aim to exploit the river’s potential as a recreational resource.
Vauxhall and Nine Elms will be London’s main riverside regeneration zone over the next 20 years. A “satellite city” of 16,000 homes is under way, with Ballymore’s Embassy Gardens, 1,982 apartments surrounding the US Embassy site, launching soon. To register, visit embassygardens.com or call 0800 404 9009.
Riverside skyscrapers are being built at Albert Embankment and at Blackfriars, while Lots Road power station, next to Chelsea Harbour, is to become an upmarket residential and retail estate.
“Once you catch the riverside bug you never want to live anywhere else,” says Savills’ Sarah Gretton. “There’s huge variety in terms of the stock available; something for everyone.”
As a rule of thumb, east of Tower Bridge is cheaper than west of Tower Bridge. River-view flats start at about £450,000 (in Rotherhithe or Limehouse), while in general values range between £600 and £2,000 per square foot, which is within the budget of many London buyers. River-view homes always cost more. There are hot spot locations, sometimes the result of regeneration, and certain developments command a premium above immediate neighbours.
For example, St Katharine’s Dock is up to 25 per cent more expensive than other river-front schemes in Wapping. Why? Because it is a walled enclave, with fine Georgian warehouses, shops, bars and a marina —and close to the Square Mile too. Values can vary significantly even within a development, depending on property type, condition, size and aspect.
“At Chelsea Harbour, we have 14 properties on the market and values range from £719 a sq ft to £1,716 a sq ft,” says Charlie Bubear of Savills.
“The development used to be out on a limb, disconnected from public transport, but capital values have been rising steadily since the opening of Imperial Wharf train station in 2009.”
An improving river taxi service is a bonus for locals commuting to the City. The Mayor is keen to integrate river transport with new housing developments such as the giant Imperial Wharf development, where new pleasure moorings recently became available.
A pier has also opened at St George’s Wharf, Vauxhall, and another is to be built at Plantation Wharf, Wandsworth, where there will be nine residential moorings and a block of 44 flats (contact Cube Real Estate, 0845 262 5544).
Currently, river services operate along three sections of the Thames: Putney to Westminster via Chelsea Harbour; Embankment to Tower Bridge via Blackfriars; Docklands to Woolwich via Greenwich.
Fulham Reach is another big launch, a 744-home scheme between Putney and Hammersmith bridges and facing handsome Harrods Furniture Depository on the south side of the river.
St George, the developer, has upgraded the riverside walkway, called Hammersmith Embankment, and a new park and community boat club and jetty are part of the scheme. Residents will have exclusive use of a spa, screening room and wine cellar as well as a 24-hour concierge. The acclaimed Riverside Café is one of the neighbourhood amenities. Prices from £749,950. Call 020 7870 9500.
A daily river special
Estelle Français, 34 (pictured), has been living at Riverside Quarter, Wandsworth, with partner Julian Leach since 2009. The couple have two toddlers and say the landscaped waterfront is “a great amenity space — safe, quiet and clean”.
“We have outstanding views from our seventh floor apartment and love relaxing on the terrace in summertime. With the changing light and the passing boats and rowers, the river is endlessly fascinating,” she says.
Riverside Quarter has matured into the most attractive of all Wandsworth’s residential estates. It sits on a bend of the river known as the Wandle Delta, a noted wildlife habitat, and looks across the Thames to leafy Hurlingham Park. It has moorings plus a cluster of convenience shops and restaurants serving local residents.
More than 200 flats have been built and the final phase of 121 apartments and penthouses, some with winter gardens, is now under way. Prices from £490,000. Call 020 8877 2000.