What looked as if it would be a winning formula for Canada Water in the Eighties — plenty of low-rise housing, an out-of-town-style shopping centre and a drive-to leisure park — now looks hopelessly dated and very bedraggled.
It is why Canada Water is one of the Mayor of London’s Opportunity Areas, ripe for investment and development.
And it is why the map of this Docklands neighbourhood, only one stop from Canary Wharf, is being torn up and will be redrawn afresh over the next 15 years with thousands of new homes, a new King’s College London campus, a proper high street and new green spaces.
Canada Water and other local names including Greenland Dock, Quebec Way, Finland Street and Norway Gate reflect the area’s history, when its docks were at the centre of the timber trade.
Now the name of the game is regeneration, with Roger Madelin, who led the transformation of King’s Cross, now in charge of property company British Land’s £2 billion plans to give Canada Wharf the town centre it clearly needs.
British Land expects to put its proposals before the local planning committee this spring, with building work starting next year.
In the meantime, new flats are being built along Quebec Way, while Sellar — the group behind The Shard — and Notting Hill Housing are getting on with redeveloping the Decathlon site overlooking Canada Water, and King’s College London has broken ground on its new campus at the former Mulberry Business Park in Canada Street.
Greenland Dock is one of London’s oldest riverside wet docks. (Daniel Lynch)
The Decathlon site development offers more than 1,000 new homes including a 40-storey tower, plus new shops and waterside cafés and restaurants, a flagship Decathlon sports gear store, a cinema and health centre and new community sports facilities, all spread over five new buildings, with the creation of two new green spaces.
Top architects Maccreanor Lavington and David Chipperfield are involved in the design.
King’s College London is forecasting a 15 to 20 per cent increase in students and in five years’ time, some will be studying at a new £400 million campus in Canada Water and living in one of the new student flats that are being built to house them.
The British Land scheme takes in the area to the east and south of Canada Water. Here, the final plans include knocking down the Surrey Quays shopping centre, the nearby leisure park and parts of the giant former Daily Mail & General Trust printworks, where Homes & Property and the Evening Standard were printed for years, and replacing them with 3,500 homes, a new high street linking Canada Water and Surrey Quays stations, leisure and community facilities and a series of new routes through the neighbourhood.
Only four miles from central London, Canada Water is better connected to Canary Wharf and the City. Canada Water Tube is one stop away from Canary Wharf on the Jubilee line and one stop away on the Thames Clippers ferry service from Greenland (Surrey Quays).
Canada Water is five stops away from Shoreditch High Street on the Overground and it’s three stops to London Bridge City on Thames Clippers.
It sits between the Thames and Rotherhithe to the north; the Isle of Dogs and Canary Wharf across the river to the east; Deptford and New Cross to the south and Bermondsey to the west.
Estate agent Scott West, from the Canada Water branch of Kinleigh Folkard & Hayward, says these fast connections attract young professionals who like the ease of living in a well-managed block of flats at a stage in their life when they’re prioritising their careers.
The district also offers value for money, with price per square foot around £750 compared with £1,000-plus in the better-known Docklands areas of Shad Thames and Wapping.
Scott West also points to the potential of a new pedestrian and cycling bridge from Rotherhithe to Canary Wharf. Transport for London is currently consulting on the proposal, with designs likely to emerge next year.
The property scene
Homes built in the Eighties and Nineties dominate Canada Water, although there are one or two more recent developments, such as Barratt Homes’ Maple Quays which includes 28-storey Ontario Point.
There’s also a handful of warehouse and industrial conversions, along with one or two small pockets of Victorian terrace cottages and houses.
The most expensive house currently for sale locally is a three-bedroom, four-storey modern property in Cookham Crescent overlooking the peaceful Albion Channel, on sale for £1 million.
The most expensive flat is a two-bedroom penthouse in Cedar House with a price tag of £899,950. A one-bedroom, 862sq ft flat in a former industrial building in Pump House Close is on the market at £535,000.
Like everywhere in London, right-to-buy flats on estates of social housing offer some of the best value. In SE16, a one-bedroom renovated flat on the Irwell Estate in Neptune Street is for sale for £310,000.
Quebec Quarter is a development of 254 one-, two- and three-bedroom flats with 69 for shared ownership and 34 for affordable rent in Quebec Way, from housing association L&Q. Residents started moving in last year and the whole development will be finished this winter.
There are flats ready to move into, and off-plan sales. Prices start at £485,000 for a one-bedroom flat, £650,00 for a two-bedroom flat and £720,000 for a three-bedroom flat. Visit quebecquarter.com or call 03330 033 663.
London Square Canada Water has 95 one-, two- and three-bedroom flats, of which eight will be for shared ownership and 11 for social rent, designed by Assael Architecture and launched off-plan in September.
First residents are set to move in during March, with the whole scheme due to complete in June. One-bedroom flats start at £525,000, with two-bedroom flats at £600,000 and three-bedroom flats for £850,000. Call the sales suite on 0333 666 0106.
Three two-bedroom homes remain, from £725,000, at Tavern Quay, a scheme of 76 flats in Rope Street by developer Vision. Visit tavernquay.net or call 0845 838 2188.
Help to Buy is available at Quebec Quarter and the scheme, along with London Square Canada Water, will have shared-ownership flats for sale at some point.
Lettings manager Gerard Sturdy, at Kinleigh Folkard & Hayward, says most local renters are young professionals, couples or sharers working in Canary Wharf or the City who enjoy the convenience of living in Canada Water.
Landlords are a mix of overseas investors and previous owners who have moved but retained their flat as an investment.
Sturdy adds that Canada Water is now attracting build-to-rent developers, with Notting Hill Housing deciding to rent the entire first phase of 240 flats in its Decathlon scheme, which will be available from July next year.
Canada Water is not a big family area and according to KFH estate agent Scott West, couples often move out to Bromley and Beckenham once their children reach school age.
Canada Water is in the SE16 Rotherhithe postcode.
Cookham Crescent has modern family houses overlooking the Albion Channel waterway. Gomm Road leads to Southwark Park and has Victorian terrace cottages. Two recent developments, Maple Quays — which includes 28-storey Ontario Point — and Marine Wharf are sought after.
Up and coming
The whole of Canada Water is up and coming.
Canada Water Tube station is on the Jubilee line, one stop from Canary Wharf. It’s also on the Overground with trains to Shoreditch High Street. Thames Clipper riverboats run to Canary Wharf and the City. All stations are in Zone 2 and an annual travelcard to Zone 1 costs £1,296.
Southwark council is Labour controlled. Band D council tax for 2017/2018 is £1,256.82.
Hawker House, an indoor food and drinks warehouse from street food market giants Street Feast, is open on Fridays and Saturdays from 5pm until late (Daniel Lynch)
Shops and restaurants
The Surrey Quays shopping centre is due to be demolished under British Land’s plans for the area, although the developer is committed to keeping the existing Tesco Extra store open until a new store is built.
The shopping centre has branches of Clarks, JD Sports, River Island, New Look, Sports Direct and Next, among others. Hawker House, an indoor food and drinks warehouse from street food market giants Street Feast, is open on Fridays and Saturdays from 5pm until late.
There are local shops along Lower Road, where The Yellow House is a popular pub and restaurant and the Lodge.space offers yoga classes plus a healthy-eating café.
Café East is a Vietnamese restaurant in Surrey Quays Leisure Park. Canada Water Café in Surrey Quays Road is an Italian-inspired café serving English breakfasts and pizza; its sister restaurant serves an Italian menu at the Plough Way Café off Plough Way in the Marine Wharf development.
The Mayflower in Rotherhithe Street is a historic pub close to the spot in Rotherhithe where the Pilgrim Fathers sailed for America in 1620. The Salt Quay, also in Rotherhithe Street, has a large beer garden, popular on summer evenings.
Canada Water has two lovely wild areas — Stave Hill Ecological Park in Timber Pond Road, and Russia Dock Woodland in Redriff Road. Stave Hill is run by The Conservation Volunteers.
It hosts the annual Soundcamp on International Dawn Chorus Day, when the dawn chorus is recorded across the world. Russia Dock Woodland has a games and picnic area.
Southwark Park in Lower Road has a café, children’s playroom, bowling green, athletics track, football pitches and tennis courts. It can be a challenge getting from Canada Water to Southwark Park across Lower Road but the British Land proposals hope to make it easier.
Leisure and the arts
Canada Water Culture Space, combining a library, café and theatre, is in the upturned pyramid building that is Canada Water Library, opened in 2011 and designed by CZWG Architects.
Printworks London is a huge multipurpose events venue in the former Daily Mail and Evening Standard printworks at Surrey Quays. It hosts DJ nights, fashion shows and product launches and was recently voted best London venue.
Surrey Quays Leisure Park has an Odeon multiplex cinema, bingo and a tenpin bowling alley. There are two cutting-edge modern art galleries in Southwark Park — The Gallery and Dilston Grove, with the latter in a former chapel.
You can learn to sail, kayak, row and canoe in Greenland Dock at the Surrey Docks Fitness and Water Sports Centre in Rope Street. The nearest council-owned swimming pool is at Seven Islands Leisure Centre in Lower Road.