Posts with tag: London property developments

London’s New Homes are More Environmentally Friendly

Garden designers are changing London’s new property developments, by putting the focus on the environment.

These green spaces fit perfectly into new housing schemes and will help to reduce pollution, absorb rainwater, prevent flooding and lower urban heat.

Instead of traditional evergreens, the new gardens boast a variety of trees, shrubs, perennials and bulbs selected not just to look pretty, but for their ability to adapt to climate change and attract wildlife.

Matthew Wilson, an award-winning garden designer who recently landscaped the new development Cloudesley House in Islington, says: “Historically, it was landscape architects who were called in for the big developments.

“Now, there’s a definite move to employ garden designers.”

He explains the difference: “Developers and contractors aren’t always aware of the differences, but they are huge.

“A landscape architect will specify the balustrades on the building and the lighting in the car park, but it’s not a required component of landscape training to know about plants.

“Garden designers like Andy Sturgeon, Dan Pearson and myself are increasingly asked to work on schemes and, speaking for myself, I don’t know about balustrades, but I just need to know a man who does. The result is that we work with landscape architects, collaboratively.”

Rather than fitting the landscape into an allocated space afterwards, the green space is part of the whole concept from the start.

Wilson speaks of his project: “Cloudesley House is a Victorian school building and in the middle of the building was an old gym. Initially, a developer would think, ‘I can get five flats in there’, but this time, the developer said, ‘Let’s take the roof off and make a contemporary courtyard’. It’s very encouraging.”1

Andy Sturgeon talks of the Earls Court Lillie Square development, a former 7.5-acre car park: “In the past, it was about landscaping the spaces left over. Now, the building is arranged around the landscaping.”

He has designed one of the largest garden squares in West London, sitting in the heart of the project. Over 50% of the site is green space, an industry first.

“We were briefed to make the landscape more meaningful,” explains Sturgeon. “Now, wherever you are in the development, you’re in and among the plants.”

Previously, landscaping just involved creating a green space.

Now, Sturgeon says: “The challenge is to make something more garden-esque and flowing, but that can still be easily maintained. There are still the evergreen shrubs, but we’re making more imaginative choices than the usual hebes and phormiums.”

For the future, developers are hoping to include gardens not only on ground level, but on the top of their sky-high developments.

Sturgeon, who also designed the rooftop gardens at Battersea Power Station, where there are allotments for residents, insists: “And you can’t underestimate the value of play space for children.

“At Lillie Square, there’s not only a designated playground, but the whole landscape is playable throughout.”

The new method of London landscaping is not focused on creating breathtaking scenery, but about making sustainable spaces that will benefit residents and passers-by, as well as the whole environment.

Sturgeon sums up: “Five years ago, when we’d go into a meeting, developers didn’t even have the vocabulary, but now they have. Finally, city landscaping is more about the horticulture than the paving.”1


Architects Attempt to Solve London’s Housing Crisis

New London Architecture has shortlisted 100 proposals for solving the housing crisis in London, by providing desperately needed homes in the capital. Here are a few ideas:

Buoyant Starts by Floating Homes and Baca Architects


Through this project, 7,500 fixed-placed affordable, floating starter homes would be developed on underused parts of London’s canal and river system. The designers would expect the pre-fabricated and customisable homes to be completed in six to 12 months.

Floatopolis by drMM

Floatopolis is another idea for using London’s waterways as housing, reclaiming the River Thames to create water neighbourhoods, including housing, lidos, open-air cinemas, workspaces, cafes and schools.

Community Led Intensification by Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios (FCBS) 

FCBS’s plan for increased housing is a community-led development that also creates local positivity. Community members would identify development opportunities in the city through an app.

Ministry of Densification of Suburbia (MODS) by Hal Architects

MODS focuses on London’s fringe areas, but aims to keep current communities together. Homeowners would partner with a development firm to build on underused land in each of the city’s outer boroughs.

Living Arteries by Benjamin Marks

In Greater London, over-ground railways take up 1,522 hectares, but Marks believes this space could be used for housing: “If we built over even a quarter of this at 140 homes per hectare, it would be possible to deliver over 53,000 homes on land currently not considered available for use.”1

The Streets by NBBJ 

This team developed the Circle line travelator plan and is now proposing replacing some of London’s roads with rows of new houses. There are 9,000 miles of streets in the capital and changing some of the road networks could create more pedestrian-friendly areas and community spots.

Y:Cube by Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners

In partnership with the YMCA London South West, this housing solution offers self-contained and affordable starter accommodation for young people who have previously been without a permanent home. Find out more here: /ymca-launches-accommodation-project-for-homeless-people/

Rooftop (Re)Generation by Bell Phillips Architects

In this plan, pre-fab modular housing is added to the flat roofs of post-war housing estates, which the designers claim are forgotten and could be utilised to deliver more homes. The number of properties on existing estates could rise by around 30%, while open space will be left untouched.

[nest] by Stride Treglown

Also through rooftop modular housing, this project would see homes added to existing retail surface car parks with ten-year licenses. Locals would qualify for tenancies via loyalty cards, by spending money in local shops.



New London Properties to Consider this Autumn

London is experiencing a surge of regeneration at present, fuelled by the huge infrastructure project, Crossrail.

With the new rail network has arrived a wave of many new property developments, offering investors and homebuyers plenty of choice in the capital.

Not only are these schemes in up-and-coming areas, but they are often joined by community-based projects from planners, who create assets such as riverfront promenades or parks.

Take a look at the developments to look out for this autumn:

Richmond Hill

The Star and Garter in Richmond Hill is surrounded by the huge Richmond Park, with 2,500 acres of green, plus a river promenade and beautiful views from the hill.

A total of 86 luxury apartments have been built among terraced gardens and grounds, overlooking the River Thames and Petersham Meadows.

The building used to be a convalescent home for soldiers returning from the First World War, dating back to 1916. Formerly, it was a hotel used by royalty, artists and writers, including Charles Dickens.

The marble hall with a grand staircase welcomes residents and the restored King’s Room will be a spa. Apartments are priced from £1.2m.

South Bank

The redevelopment of the Shell Centre at South Bank brings with it 877 new homes to a five-acre site between the London Eye and Royal Festival Hall.

The first phase, One York Square, is the tallest of seven new buildings surrounding the Shell office tower. The project also includes a new square and improved public spaces.

Architects Squire and Partners were given the task of keeping in with the original design, and have created a clean, stone façade with intricate bronze detailing.

Apartments have full-height glazed windows and most are double-aspect. The new 36-storey tower is topped by a four-storey “lantern”1, which includes four penthouses. Prices start at £540,000.

Blackfriars and Docklands

A wide European-style street running from the Thames to Elephant and Castle has become a property hotspot after years of being rundown. Blackfriars Road is the main section of the new cycle superhighway to King’s Cross, and several new housing projects are being formed alongside the route.

Blackfriars Circus is a Barratt Homes development of 336 homes. Old office blocks are making way for stylish new apartments. This rejuvenated part of SE1 is believed to be a great investment opportunity, cheaper than Borough and Bankside.

The area has an urban mix of residential property, including swish riverside flats, attractive Victorian terraces, charitable housing, looked after council estates, warehouse lofts and live-in offices for creatives. Homes start at £490,000.

The Madison is a 53-storey tower designed by famous architects Make. Inside are 423 apartments at West India Docks, alongside Canary Wharf. The slim skyscraper enables 70% of the site to be public space and gardens. Properties are priced from £460,000.

Highgate and St John’s Wood 

Expect competition from other buyers at One Highgate, as the project has just 15 two and three-bedroom apartments in a redbrick mansion block with underground parking, a concierge and swimming pool. Prices start at £1.6m.

St John’s Wood is as village-like as the capital gets. It’s single high street with cafes, boutiques and bistros brings in residents from the surrounding district.

And Regent’s Park is on the doorstep. The local conservation society keeps developers off the area and Lord’s Cricket Ground is nearby.

Within the area is 15 Grove End Road, a small scheme of four elegant apartments, plus a duplex penthouse. If residents arrive by car, they are escorted at the touch of a button to the underground car park. Homes are priced from £3,295,000.


Previously a bohemian spot, Fitzrovia is becoming upmarket as property spreads out of Marylebone.

The Fitzbourne is a tasteful renovation of a classic Victorian redbrick block that now includes two triplex penthouses with terraces and views of the BT Tower. Prices start at £2,995,000 for the large apartments.

Hurlingham Walk has 68 apartments on offer, located between the Thames, Hurlingham Club and Parsons Green in Fulham. Mid-rise, brick-façade blocks are set around landscaped courtyards. The homes are stylish, yet functional, with full-height windows and doors that open out onto large balconies. Also available is a porter, 24-hour security and gated underground parking. Properties start at £695,000.


Thousands of New Waterfront Homes on the Thames

For the first time ever, more people in the capital live east of London Bridge than west, predominantly due to the surge in development around Docklands.

Tens of thousands of new properties are in the pipeline at Royal Docks, Greenwich Peninsula and Woolwich. The homes are all connected by the Thames, which is being reinvented as a vital transport link, boosted by a plan to launch a new fleet of river buses, which will cover more routes.

Since the old commercial docks closed in the 1970s, the once-polluted river and surrounding industrial land have experienced great change, with regeneration projects, including modern waterfront apartments.

Tom Burke of Savills Waterfront, a specialist division of the estate agent, comments: “Once you catch the riverside bug, you’ll never want to live anywhere else.”1

Thames Clippers services carry 10,000 commuters per day and even City workers, who formerly favoured Knightsbridge and Kensington, are moving to the riverside.

Traditionally, east of Tower Bridge is cheaper than the central and western parts of the Thames. It is also more convenient for those working in the City or Canary Wharf.

Eight river bus piers between Tower Bridge and Woolwich enhance improving neighbourhoods, where buyers can find riverfront homes costing under £500,000.

Shad Thames 

Shad Thames features Victorian wharves and warehouses that have been converted into flats. It is known as the most charming part of Docklands.

One-bedroom apartments facing the Thames start at £650,000, but buyers can find homes in blocks further away for £430,000. Two-bed flats typically cost between £700,000-£1m and at least £1.5m for something spectacular.

The renovated Hop Studios in Jamaica Road has an attractive Victorian brick façade with arched windows and cargo doors. Within are new two-bed apartments priced from £1.2m.


Rotherhithe is 25% cheaper than Shad Thames and has been up-and-coming for 30 years. It is now a certified fashionable area.

London taxi firm Addison Lee states that Rotherhithe is the capital’s “destination hotspot”1, after it saw a 170% rise in passenger journeys to the area in the last three years.

Disjointed areas are being joined together and a busy waterfront district is being formed at Canada Water.

South Dock Marina is London’s largest, with 200 berths and a watersports centre. There is also a river shuttle bus to Canary Wharf. Sellar Group, the developer of the Shard, is building 1,030 homes in partnership with Notting Hill Housing in the area.

St Marychurch Street is now a charming cobbled conservation area, but was the space that the Pilgrim Fathers left for North America from in 1620.

The eastern side of Rotherhithe Peninsula, bordering Deptford, has a different atmosphere. Most of the area was demolished and infilled when the docks closed. Regeneration stopped a few years ago, but builders are back in.

Marine Wharf, which has 566 homes, boasts innovative design and draws on the area’s industrial heritage. Intertwining apartment blocks with central courtyards are clad in warm brick and rusty steel panels, with prices starting at £430,000.

Ryan Gregory, a 29-year-old equity analyst, chose to buy in Rotherhithe after leaving his family home in Brentwood, Essex. He looked for an affordable area with good investment opportunities close to the City and Canary Wharf.

He purchased a two-bed apartment at a development that had a gym and concierge. He says: “The river bus is great. Greenland Pier is a five-minute walk from where I live. It’s stress-free and I always get a seat.”1


Wapping is located just below Tower Bridge and runs east to Shadwell Basin. The area closest to the City has both old and new homes, overlooks two yacht basins and is the priciest part.

London Dock is a 1,800-home project being built on an ex-printworks site that spreads 15 acres. It will open up new pedestrian routes to the river and include a public square, cafes, restaurants and a new secondary school. Homes start at £869,950.

After decades of abandonment, a listed riverfront warehouse next to Wapping Tube station is being converted into 37 loft-style apartments. The homes are priced from £1.4m.


Limehouse is traffic-free and therefore fairly quiet. Two-bed flats at Canary Gateway cost from £520,000.

Limehouse Cut, the capital’s oldest canal, was created to form a shortcut between the Thames and the River Lea in Bow.

Royal Quay, on the banks of the canal, is a new scheme of 90 homes, set behind original warehouse facades. Flats feature exposed brick and high ceilings and start at £417,600.


North Greenwich features a new district of 10,000 homes, a pier and its own beach and yacht club.

Greenwich Millennium Village is a collection of apartment blocks near a nature reserve and park. Buyers can find flats priced from £350,000.

Knight Dragon, a Chinese developer, is building five villages joined together by green space, squares, public art and a one-and-a-half-mile riverside promenade. New skyscrapers are under construction, with glass-clad apartments already available to buy off-plan. Prices begin at £300,000 for a studio and increase to £1.95m for penthouses.

Telegraph Works is being regenerated as part of a wider improvement of the riverside strip between the historic town centre and Greenwich Peninsula. The site dates back to the Tudor era, when it was a gunpowder store during Elizabeth I’s reign. It later became a sail and rope-making factory and then manufactured telegraph cables. Most recently, it was a tin foil factory that closed in 2013.

The complex is now being redeveloped into 256 properties within four buildings, including an 18-storey tower. Homes start at £300,000. A cruise liner terminal is also in the pipeline.

Canary Wharf 

New waterfront homes in this area include 10 Park Drive, the first residential scheme within the Canary Wharf estate. It contains 345 apartments in two linked towers that boast a sky terrace, spa and gym. Prices start at £395,000.

South Quay Plaza has 888 homes and features one of the tallest towers in Britain, a 66-storey glass-clad skyscraper with residents club, private cinema and spa on the 56th floor. Homes are priced from £490,000. Completion is expected in 2020.


Woolwich, in southeast London, is an upcoming area thanks to Crossrail and the growing Royal Arsenal Riverside. An ex-munitions factory, the development is being renovated into a 5,000-home residential quarter, with listed buildings being restored across the 88-acre site. Completion is set for 2030.

Woolwich is also set to become a major transport hub. New waterfront apartments have also been launched, costing from £367,500.


Affordable Housing Planning Policy Cancelled

A Government planning policy that could have allowed luxury London landlords to escape over £1 billion a year in affordable housing payments has been cancelled.

Housing Minister Brandon Lewis revealed the vacant building credit at the end of 2014, but councils soon experienced chronic housing shortages.

The credit allowed developers that were planning to convert vacant office buildings into flats to pay only an affordable housing contribution on new space created. Before its introduction, developers paid according to the size of the whole building.

Westminster Council voiced its concerns in January, stating that it could lose £1 billion a year from its affordable housing fund and called the credit “insane”.

On Abu Dhabi Investment Council and Finchatton’s project to redevelop the former US Navy HQ in Mayfair, the Council said that its affordable housing payment fell from £17.6m to just £8.6m.

Affordable Housing Planning Policy Cancelled

Affordable Housing Planning Policy Cancelled

A legal battle by West Berkshire District Council and Reading Borough Council has resulted in a judge ruling that part of the policy was incompatible with the legal structure for planning.

Head of Planning at law firm Mishcon de Reya, Daniel Farrand, says: “This means that councils will be able to once again levy affordable housing requirements on developments in accordance with their own local plan policies.”1 

Brandon Lewis initially launched the plans to boost house building and put vacant properties back into use.

Some raised concerns that developers could kick tenants out of offices to convert them into flats and others would resubmit plans already granted permission to take advantage of the lower affordable housing bill.

The decision to cancel the policy was welcomed by numerous politicians and groups.

Labour Mayor of London candidate, Tessa Jowell, says: “The vacant building credit has done untold damage to London and has now rightly been quashed by the courts.

“This Tory scheme delivered developers a loophole to avoid providing any affordable housing – just when our city needs it most.”1

A Generation Rent spokesperson adds: “This loophole absolved them [developers] of any responsibility to make a contribution to wider society and with the economy booming that is completely unjustifiable.”1

Mark Williams, Southwark’s councillor, believes it was “a deeply unjust policy that could have cost thousands of new affordable homes.”

A spokesperson for Labour Built Environment adds: “This court decision is a victory for common sense and will help generate more affordable homes in London.”1

JR Capital manages money from the Middle East for residential property investors. It says it does not believe the removal of the credit will stop developers investing in London.

The Department for Communities and Local Government says it is “disappointed by the outcome” and will seek permission to appeal against the judge’s decision.

It explains: “We’ve got Britain building and we’re determined to maintain this momentum, including by reducing the red tape and extra costs that prevent smaller developments from getting built.”1

The British Property Federation thinks that affordable housing payments should be set at a local level, rather than by the central government.


The Problems with London’s Luxury Property Boom

Along the Thames in central London is what can only be described as a building site. The many luxury properties being built in the capital are said to bring money into the city, which trickles down to the general public, not just to the super rich.

In fact, this luxury property boom could have damaging effects on the rest of the country. A Global Witness investigation discovered that around one in ten properties in the City of Westminster (9.3%) and 7.3% of properties in Kensington and Chelsea are owned by investors registered in offshore firms.

The Problems with London's Luxury Property Boom

The Problems with London’s Luxury Property Boom

It is easier to invest stolen money in property than try to hide lumps of cash. The London property market is increasingly attractive to tax dodgers, secret overseas investors and criminal gangs.

As the housing crisis has continued, and continued, politicians have insisted that housing shortages, soaring house prices, eradication of social housing and the messy private rental sector are normal. Politicians have taken no blame for the state of the housing market, but expect the public to manage.

This is no surprise, as they are not the ones struggling. Families are being moved out of London and over half of the people hit by the benefit cap will find the whole of the South of England unaffordable to them.

However, the coalition government pushed through a change to planning rules that mean many developers do not have to build or pay for social housing when constructing large residential developments.

Luxury property developments will not solve the housing crisis. Public housing is where investment is needed.

Some argue that rent controls and regulation of private landlords will avoid more housing stock being sold off to the buy-to-let sector.

While politicians suggest that the problems will end, the situation for those struggling to keep a roof over their heads seems to be increasingly challenging.

Housing as a concept has moved from shelter to asset. When Labour proposed a mansion tax, critics focused on those that have supposedly earned their capital gains, rather than entered the market at a convenient time, leaving many now without a viable option.

The current problem of a lack of supply and growing demand is deep-rooted in a housing system that has simply not been building enough homes.

Housing is now considered a profitable pursuit and central London showcases exactly that. It is no longer a liveable space for many people.

Luxury developments are not solving the problems that those in unstable situations, or even homelessness, are facing.