The borough of Tower Hamlets has contributed the highest amount of new housing stock in London from 1983 – 2014, largely due to the availability of vacant land caused by bombing during WW2 and the reclaiming of historic industrial land, particularly around the former docks.
Following the closure of London’s docks in the 1960s, regeneration of dormant land began in earnest in the 1980s when The London Docklands Development Corporations (LDDC) was created and the Isle of Dogs was earmarked an enterprise zone. The first warehouse conversion to be redeveloped into apartments was Oliver’s Wharf which converted into 23 apartments. Today Oliver’s Wharf is a landmark riverside development.
This led to a series of events beginning with the construction of a 12.2 million sq ft office block which is now the focal point of Canary Wharf. Next came City Airport, The Docklands Light Railway and the extension of the A13 connecting drivers from London’s city centre to Limehouse and the Isle of Dogs.
The establishment of Canary Wharf as the financial district of London in the 80’s led to the need for new homes in and around the area to service this new commercial district. The land to be built on was relatively cheap and developers saw great opportunity to build exciting new schemes in an area of regeneration with a healthy long term outlook.
Historically, however, Canary Wharf was very much a Monday to Friday destination and convincing people to live in the area was a hard sell. This began to change during the mid-1980s with young professionals trading traditional areas to be closer to the City.
21st century development
Although there are small pockets of much sought after period Victorian and Edwardian family homes, the majority of Tower Hamlets’ housing stock is a result of more recent urban regeneration. Glittering tower blocks with concierge, swimming pools and gyms, waterside penthouses with views of the Thames and warehouse style apartments have made Canary Wharf particularly sought after.