Turning London’s water into gold: new waterside homes

Thousands of new waterside homes will be built beside London’s “massively underused” canals during the next decade.
Wood Wharf
Wood Wharf: new trust will build 2,000 new homes on former British Waterways land at Canary Wharf
Plans include more than 500 properties at Brentford, the first of which will go on sale later this year, priced from £265,000 to £800,000.

In addition, there will be almost 2,000 flats at Canary Wharf, another 400 in Islington, and a major scheme at Tottenham Hale.

Profits will go to the Canal & River Trust, the charity which has taken control of the UK’s 2,000 miles of waterways — about 100 miles of which are in the capital, replacing the now-defunct British Waterways.

The Government will give the trust about £800 million over the next 15 years. But, with basic maintenance costs running at £100 million a year (excluding staffing costs including the £220,000 salary of chief executive Robin Evans),the trust must raise substantial sums from other sources.

As well as the waterways themselves, the trust inherited £450 million-worth of land and property, about £200 million-worth of which is in London.

It is now determined to use that land by turning into a house-builder.

Planning consent has also just been granted for 520 new homes at Brentford Lock West, 20 per cent of which will be affordable. Work on the first phase of 150 one-, two-, three- and four-bedroom (private) flats and townhouses is due to start later this year and expressions of interest are already being invited (www.brentfordlockwest.co.uk).

In January developer Canary Wharf Group paid British Waterways £52m for its stake in a 16.8 acre site in Docklands, Wood Wharf, and will continue to pay the trust ground-rent on the land for the next 250 years.

Planning permission has already been granted for a huge development at the wharf - designed by architect Sir Richard Rogers - including almost 1,700 homes, a third of which will be affordable and aimed at first-time buyers. There will also be a water-front park, new canal and boardwalk. It is hoped that the first homes will be ready in 2018.

Through its regeneration body Isis Waterside Regeneration, the trust hopes to redevelop land at Tottenham Hale, with an estimated 500 homes, and Slough Basin, with another 100 flats. Work on City Road Basin in Islington has already begun, with 100 affordable homes built and another 300homes - 200 of which will be private - on site now.

Matthew Smith, head of Knight Frank’s riverside office, says that a water view can add up to 70 per cent to the value of a property – with those in less desirable areas commanding the largest premiums.

“I think the canals in London are massively underused,” he said. “People like living by water – it’s the sense of space, and not looking out of your window at someone else’s house. If they are used properly, like in Maida Vale and parts of Hackney, they make really desirable homes in areas which are otherwise not that beautiful.’

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