Blackwall has always been considered a bit of an outpost. Most Londoners only know it for its cross-Thames tunnel. But this neighbourhood on the northern edge of the Isle of Dogs is beginning to benefit from a ripple of development moving east out of nearby Canary Wharf.
Horizons is one of the new residential towers sprouting up in Blackwall, and at this 26-storey development by Telford Homes in Yabsley Street. Some private flats in this area are currently selling for more than £1 million.
Happily, however, the stylish 190-flat tower, designed by RMA Architects, also has budget homes aimed at buyers who can only afford a share of a property. Notting Hill Housing has 29 shared-ownership homes on offer at Horizons, priced from £152,000.
The big sales pitch is that Canary Wharf is only a mile to the west, but Horizons is very firmly in Blackwall, a few minutes from Blackwall Docklands Light Railway station in Zone 2. It’s a three-stop ride to Canary Wharf or a 15-minute journey to Bank Tube station. London City airport is 20 minutes away.
That £152,000 price tag buys a 40 per cent share of a one-bedroom flat, and the estimated monthly cost, including a £160 service charge, is £1,482. Two-bedroom flats start at £205,000 for 40 per cent, and the monthly cost is £2,002, including £220 service charge.
There are also three-bedroom flats, priced from £236,000 for a 40 per cent share. The monthly cost for these larger homes is £2,311, which includes a £260 service charge.
BLACKWALL: THE KNOWLEDGE
Past: Sir Walter Raleigh lived in the area, and in the 17th century Blackwall was the departure port for British colonisers encroaching into North America and the West Indies. Blackwall’s shipbuilding docks closed in the Eighties and the area fell into decline.
Future: four new river crossings are being considered by Transport for London between the Isle of Dogs and the Greenwich Peninsula.
Trivial pursuit: the area’s name is boringly literal, and refers to the black river wall built in the Middle Ages.
What it costs: an average E14 property costs £442,496, down slightly from just over £445,000 a year ago.
First-time buy: Poplar remains good value in this neck of the woods, where a two-bedroom flat with great views costs about £450,000.
Landmarks: houseboats at pretty Poplar Dock Marina.
Eat: stroll down the river for a gastropub dinner at The Gun, on Coldharbour.
Drink: a pint with the locals at the determinedly old-school Greenwich Pensioner pub in Bazely Street.
Buy: whatever you like at Canary Wharf’s endless array of shops, or go for an entirely different experience — and a proper taste of the old East End — at Chrisp Street Market, half a mile away.
Walk: along the Thames Path, or go and explore one of the area’s few green spaces, the surprisingly charming Limmo Peninsula Ecological Park.
Spectacular O2 and city vista
There is a lot of controversy about high service charges for shared-ownership buyers but residents at Horizons will — unusually — get access to the gym and concierge service. There is also a residents’ garden.
Some of the flats have river views, and the vista from most of the homes is spectacular at night, with the O2 centre just across the river and the lights of the City in the distance. But daytime reveals Blackwall to be studded with ugly post-war blocks, building sites, and cranes building new towers. Hopkin Man, sales director at Notting Hill, agrees the area is not “polished”, but adds: “You are only a 16-minute walk from Canary Wharf, and the area will improve.”
The trouble with blossoming Blackwall is that each new building has a different developer, so there is no sympathetic continuity like the gold standard King’s Cross regeneration project. If thousands of people are expected to move to Blackwall, there should be a grocery store, newsagent, and coffee shops on the doorstep, rather than a mile away.
But Poplar Dock Marina, immediately west of Yabsley Street, is a very pretty waterside enclave, and a mile east is Trinity Buoy Wharf, London’s original “container city” with a fascinating jumble of artists’ studios and installations.
Those sunset views of the O2 are amazing — though it’s hard to reach from the Isle of Dogs — and if you get hungry there is home cooking at Bow Creek Café, soon to bring live music to the area on Friday nights.