From high-speed rail lines to public squares, London’s new infrastructure and improved urban spaces are sure-fire indicators of regeneration. Here’s what’s on the horizon for developers and investors alike.
For the people of London it can feel like the capital is a permanent building site. Cranes light up the night sky, and every time you even glance in the direction of St Paul’s a new City skyscraper seems to have reinvented the skyline.
However the capital’s biggest building project is mainly happening below the surface. Crossrail, the high-speed rail project, has been ongoing at various sites across London since September 2013. Now, with only two years to go until completion, it looks set to redefine the entire city. Look out for supporting developments from East to West, but particularly in Southall (which will be only 15 minutes from Bond Street), Woolwich, Abbey Wood, and on Chelsea’s Kings Road, where, somewhat controversially, there will be a new station. This will arrive alongside Crossrail 2, a further £27billion high-speed link from Hertfordshire to Surrey, due in 2030.
Of course there’s also plenty going on that doesn’t involve Crossrail. The biggest single transformation is at Nine Elms on the south bank. Stretching from Vauxhall to Battersea, this has traditionally been a patchy, strangely overlooked area, but it’s in the process of being completely transformed. Aside from the promised 20,000 new homes and 25,000 jobs, it will also encompass the new United States Embassy, the New Covent Garden market – and after decades of languishing, one of London’s best-loved landmarks, the redeveloped Battersea Power Station. Excitement around the redevelopment has just gone up a notch with the announcement that Apple plans to open its London headquarters here too.
Transforming the Thames
In fact, there are developments springing up all along the riverfront, with several new pier stops planned to support them. Over to the east there’s One Tower Bridge. A luxury complex of nine buildings including a 20-storey tower – and a Harrods’ concierge – overlooking City Hall. Travel further east, to Docklands, and you’ll find a thousand new homes being built at New Providence Wharf. There’s also an entirely new district being created at Royal Wharf, with ambitions to create a villagey environment along the lines of Marylebone High Street (but significantly closer to London City Airport).
Further to the south, and still in discussion, is the possible extension of the Bakerloo line from Elephant and Castle to Lewisham. This would involve the creation of two new stations on that old Monopoly landmark, the Old Kent Road. Even if it gets the green light it’s likely to be 10 years until it happens. But in the meantime there’s a regeneration plan that will involve 20,000 new homes as well as several new schools.
An £8 billion facelift
But London isn’t just expanding out, there’s plenty of sprucing going on centrally, too. The most dramatic change will indisputably be at Earl’s Court, currently undergoing an £8 billion facelift.
Traditionally a haven for backpackers, and home to the recently bulldozed famous exhibition centre, the area is being redeveloped to create one of the most desirable addresses in west London. Designed along classical lines, the new development centres around Lillie Square. It was inspired by London’s traditional garden squares and designed by six-time Chelsea Flower Show gold medal award-winner, Andy Sturgeon. The project is due to be completed by 2028.
Another key transport hub getting a makeover is Waterloo station, with Network Rail promising to invest £800 million in the next three years. There are further plans to develop Waterloo’s IMAX Roundabout to create more homes and offices and improve public spaces. The project has yet to be finalised, but it’s likely the outcome will be transformative. One of the plans mooted by Transport for London even involves removing the landmark roundabout altogether.
London as we know it may be changing, but one thing is clear. In terms of property and regeneration, it’s only going to continue to grow.