Stations are the stylish locations: the £6 billion relaunch of London Bridge
St Pancras and King’s Cross led the way, showing homebuyers how the areas around London’s major train terminals could be transformed. Now the Shard, the awesome skyscraper built on the forecourt of London Bridge station, is set to entice buyers to an area that is in for a staggering £6 billion makeover.
The Shard’s viewing gallery is expected to bring a million visitors a year to a district of London that has been overlooked for generations. An improved look to the whole area is set to impress and attract a new audience. London Bridge station will be completely rebuilt over the next six years and will have the biggest concourse in the UK, with new station entrances on Tooley Street and St Thomas Street.
The regeneration challenge is to integrate the station and the Shard’s tower of riches with a mainly small-scale surrounding area that includes medieval lanes and passageways.
London Bridge Quarter is the name of the wider development zone. Making the improvements has involved cutting new viaducts through ancient Borough Market while at the same time improving street-level space for stallholders and shoppers.
Southwark council and Network Rail are opening up derelict railway arches that form part of a magnificent listed Victorian viaduct along Crucifix Lane. This is to be a “new” neighbourhood, linking with Hays Galleria and Bermondsey Street. Sellar Property Group, the Shard developer, has drawn up provisional plans for more mixed-use buildings alongside.
London Bridge is one of the best-connected spots in the capital, a midway point between the West End and Docklands, with Tube and Thameslink trains passing through and the City and South Bank within walking distance.
One view gaining circulation is that a handful of giant-size apartments on floors 53 to 65 of the 82-storey Shard may never come to the market but will instead be kept by the development’s Qatari paymasters.
Murano, in Crosby Row, near Borough Tube station, is the closest new development to the Shard — 17 flats priced from £445,000 through Felicity J Lord.
North Southwark’s residential rise has been gathering momentum in recent years with the arrival of City boys and creative types. Apartment schemes are continuing to sprout, some in slightly off-pitch locations where values are lower. Check out the patch just back from the river between Blackfriars Road and Borough, where there is plenty of small-scale development, including boutique apartment schemes, in the pipeline.
Stations become the heart of community
New planning policies and a collection of multi-billion-pound redevelopment programmes are putting railway stations across London at the heart of new residential and office communities — giving homebuyers the chance to live close to superb transport connections, changing the city skyline and, developers hope, burying the stigma that is often attached to the areas surrounding transport hubs.
As these stations and their immediate vicinities are regenerated, residential values will inevitably get a big boost. Euston will be rebuilt for the new high-speed rail link, HS2. Waterloo and Victoria are each getting a major facelift, just as their localities are seeing new shopping and public areas created. Indeed, large parts of Victoria have already been totally transformed.
Much-anticipated new Crossrail stations at Paddington, Bond Street, Tottenham Court Road, Farringdon and Liverpool Street are bringing the first ever “over-site” developments — homes and offices which are built above or alongside stations.
Dalston Junction, a new station on the East London Overground line, which incorporates 500 flats, a library, shops, cafés and public square, has become a new town centre and one of the capital’s trendiest spots.
This may be the year of the Shard but it is also the year of the South Bank, with the once-unloved southern curve of the Thames getting some of the capital’s most spectacular new flats.
One Tower Bridge will have 350 apartments in eight riverside buildings, including a 20-storey tower with just one apartment on each floor. Three blocks have been released for sale — Tudor, Windsor and Wessex — with prices starting at £875,000 for a one-bedroom flat. In later phases, higher apartments with river-view terraces are expected to fetch in excess of £2,000 per square foot, smashing the price record for the SE1 postcode. Call 020 7871 0011.
One Blackfriars has 50 storeys and 274 apartments and is one of several new developments set to transform boulevard-like Blackfriars Road. The glass-façade tower tapers in at the bottom to maximise views and will be similar in height to the 591ft Gherkin. To register, call 020 7871 7188.
South Bank property ripples are also spreading to Elephant & Castle, London’s most central ungentrified neighbourhood. Launching this weekend is One The Elephant, a 37-storey tower with 284 apartments, due for completion in 2015. Prices from £320,000. Call Lend Lease on 020 3667 1522.
Transport for London has announced £300 million spending on eight priority projects, among them Elephant & Castle. The Waterloo station makeover includes bringing the closed former Eurostar terminal opposite County Hall back into use. This will boost the tucked-away residential neighbourhood around the Lower Marsh street market.
Coming soon is the next phase of private homes at King’s Cross Central, where 67 acres of blighted railway land are being transformed into a new district. For sale will be apartments and townhouses along Canal Reach in a block crowned by a sky garden. Call Knight Frank on 020 7629 8171.
At Victoria, Westminster council has approved the redevelopment of a blighted island site opposite the station — five fresh buildings including a Le Corbusier-style apartment complex, part of a £2 billion area project sweeping away the grey slab office blocks that have dominated for decades.