For many Londoners, the only time they’ve ever been to the Royal Docks in east London is when they’re travelling on business from London City Airport. This post-industrial part of town was once a hive of activity, with boats docking from all over the world, but now you’re more likely to find hotel chains and exhibition centres.
“For a surprising number of people, their geographical knowledge of east London gets a little patchy beyond Canary Wharf,” says Tom Rundall, residential development partner at Knight Frank. “Sure, they might know about City Airport and the Thames Barrier, and think ‘weren’t the Olympics over there’, but that’s about it. No longer.”
He says the area is now a “thriving residential metropolis” thanks to a large amount of investment being poured into the area. Regeneration plans began with Ken Livingstone, were backed up by Boris, and are only starting to come to fruition.
Around £33.7bn is earmarked for E16, with £344m of that private investment into London City Airport’s expansion, while £1.6bn has been funnelled into a Crossrail stop at Custom House. It’s already extremely well covered by the DLR network, with six stations to choose from.
Approximately 24,000 new homes are due to be built, creating around 60,000 new jobs – to put that into perspective, that’s 4,000 more homes than are planned for Nine Elms in Vauxhall.
According to research from estate agent Hamptons International using DCLG figures, three quarters of transactions last year were new builds and that’s only set to continue.
“It’s set to be one of the capital’s most exciting new ‘villages’. With impressive investment from both the government and private funds, buyers – particularly those who work in the Square Mile and Canary Wharf – are recognising the real opportunity to buy into a location that will offer both healthy capital appreciation and rental returns,” says Alex Greaves, head of new homes sales at Marsh & Parsons. The estate agency says that the area saw a healthy increase in sold prices of eight per cent between Q2 2016 and Q2 2017 in E16.
It’s also currently representing Royal Docks West, which has around 76 homes completing next year. Larger developments include Silvertown Quays (62 acres, 3,000 homes, including Millennium Mills, a 20th century flour mill); Barratt London’s Waterside Park (780 homes); and Ballymore & Oxley’s Royal Wharf (40 acres, 2,432 homes).
With fantastic river views and relatively cheap housing compared to neighbouring Tower Hamlets, the area attracts younger tenants – between 25-35 years old – and corporates looking for an easy commute. But more and more of them want to stay, says Dennis Opara, from Dexters Canary Wharf. “It’s the type of area that, once you discover it, you stay forever.”
Hamptons puts the average house price at £433,552 – pretty affordable by London standards – but notes that the last time the price record was broken was 10 years ago, when a flat on Western Gateway sold for £1.42m. The data also highlights a 56 per cent increase in the number of bars and pubs from 2013-16, hinting at an increasing number of residents.
“It’s been transformed from industrial wasteland to flourishing communities. The future has never looked so prosperous,” Rundall concludes.
Are we likely to be zipping about in electric self-driving cars in 10 years time? Find out by visiting the permanent exhibition on sustainable cities at The Crystal, a wildly contemporary conference building run by tech giant Siemens. Next door is the Emirates Air Line, known to most of us colloquially as the cable car. This controversial Boris-era project propels visitors from North Woolwich south of the river to North Greenwich for a truly unique view over the Thames. Nearby Thames Barrier Park is a 14 hectare green space that was London’s first new park for half a century when it was opened in 2001. Its wiggly hedges and fountain plaza mean it’s a great place to take kids exploring. Another great family outing is Newham City Farm, one of London’s largest and most well established city farms, where youngsters can visit all their farmyard favourites for free. Adults will enjoy a proper Cockney knees up at Brick Lane Music Hall, which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year.
House prices Source: Zoopla
Transport Source: TfL
Time to Canary Wharf: 7 mins
Time to Bank: 19 mins
Nearest train station: Royal Victoria DLR
Best roads Source: Hamptons International
Most Expensive: Starboard Way: £752,007
Most Affordable: Claremont Street: £206,670