Most parts of London have had their ups and downs, but few areas have experienced shifts as seismic or profound as Canary Wharf. With the advent of the London Docklands, it went from being uncultivated marshland to the site of the world’s largest port. Following the docks’ closure in 1960, Canary Wharf became an economic wasteland, beset by poverty and crime. Thirty years later came One Canada Square, and the turbulent regeneration of the docklands into a centre of international finance.
Now, after decades of being dismissed as an unliveable cultural desert, populated on weekends only by tumbleweed and a howling wind, Canary Wharf is in the throes of a fourth major transformation. It now has ample restaurants and bars, and more green space than most financial districts. Most crucially, people actually live there.
Despite being renowned for high-end luxury flats, property in the area is enticingly cheap when compared to its similarly affluent neighbours. Its prime market offers prices of £740 per sqft; a snip when considering that the wider north-east London average is just shy of £900. Prices for one-bedroom flats start at £350,000, though a three bed property is likely to cost you the best part of a million.
“As a business hub in its own right, the area is particularly popular with first time buyers and investors,” says Dan Burrell, manager at Dexter’s Canary Wharf. “Many of the residential developments here have incredible views of London and across the Thames”.
Canary Wharf’s mushrooming reputation as a desirable neighbourhood is being reflected in the shifting demographics of its inhabitants: around a fifth of sales last year were to under 30s, a significantly higher proportion than in the rest of London.
Also key to the area’s appeal is its connectedness, with London City Airport a brief tube journey away, and the imminent arrival of Crossrail promising easy access to Heathrow.
“The more affordable property in Canary Wharf means that even those whose workplaces are elsewhere in the capital are considering living here,” says Frances Clacy, research analyst at Savill’s. “It has the lifestyle that people want, and we expect the value and connectivity to draw even more people towards it”.