Canary Wharf Goes Cylindrical With Expansion Into Wood Wharf

You’ve possibly never been to Wood Wharf. It’s an area of semi-derelict land just to the east of the Canary Wharf estate. We’ll soon be hearing much more about it. Canary Wharf Group has submitted a planning application to Tower Hamlets Council, and hopes to develop some of the area in time for the arrival of Crossrail.

Wood Wharf is presented as a very different proposition to the forest of giant oblongs that dominate the Isle of Dogs. The development will be mostly low- or mid-rise, including 3,100 new homes (some apparently affordable), 100 shops and restaurants, parks, two hotels, a school, leisure facilities and a healthcare centre. The aim is to build a human-scale area where people can live and play (and, of course, shop) as well as work. The development is also intended to lure more tech and media companies to Docklands. The main Canary Wharf estate is dominated by banks and financial services, although a small colony of tech startups was introduced earlier this year.

Although largely low-rise, the most striking building in the initial plans is a 57-storey residential tower, designed by Herzog & de Meuron (the architects behind Beijing’s Olympic stadium and Tate Modern). The cylindrical building, which we’re dubbing ‘the loofah’, will stand alongside two other residential buildings by Stanton Williams, and a couple of office blocks by Allies and Morrison.

If permission is granted, development of the first phase will begin in late 2014, with some buildings ready by 2017. The site could then see rapid growth after the nearby Crossrail station opens in 2018.

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  • Woodmouse

    “Some apparently affordable” – this is hilarious! The others unaffordable?

  • backpassages.

    What Woodmouse said. I don’t know whether to laugh or to cry as they kill the social mix and soul of this city.

  • M

    So no new tube stop on the jubilee line? I remember that was suggested at one point. I’m sure crossrail will help with capacity, but it might be annoying to have to walk all the way over.

    • Dave H

      I think that an extra tube stop for Wood Wharf would be a waste of money. Most of the development will be within five minutes’ walk of Canary Wharf station, and can make use its comparatively little-used eastern entrance.

      • MB

        Well, it wouldn’t be the end of the world for Wood Wharf (at least, the western portions), but the areas to the north and south of the site would benefit from a stop. And it’s not true that it’d be a waste of money: there would be additional real estate value because of the superior transport link, and of course the additional development possible to the north and south, which would surely be greater than the capital cost of constructing a station in the long run. Basically, if the long term good of the area is being thought about, a new stop at Wood Wharf is a great idea.

        • MattFromLondonist

          Extend the cable car from North Greenwich to Wood Wharf and on to Canary Wharf, and it might finally make sense.

        • Dave H

          I suppose my point was that the expense of constructing a new tube station about 200 metres away from an existing, rather large station (on the same line) would be hard to fully justify in terms of benefits, in either the long or short term. Wood Wharf will already benefit from quite close proximity to Canary Wharf tube; putting in another station at Wood Wharf would be about as practically useful as putting in another station on the north side of the O2 (Greenwich North North?), or further to the west of the Isle of Dogs (Canary Riverside?).

          • MB

            Okay, well we can agree to disagree! It’s great, by the way, that this blog enables debate about the future of our city. I don’t want to repeat my points, but I’ll just add a few more things:

            1) One of the early lessons of the DLR was that it was built too small, not quite anticipating the scale of the development, and has had to play catchup ever since.
            2) A current problem London faces is, of course, how to squeeze in another 1.5-2 million people over the next two decades. One trick in the tool box is to build infill stations, and develop densely around brownfield land…for example, the eastern end of Wood Wharf and the areas above and below it, which start to hit the 10-15 minute mark for walking to a tube stop.
            3) In general, a dense, commercial development benefits from more frequent metro stops. Check out the distance between stops in Manhattan.

  • Dave H

    That’s been a long time coming! I remember the developers sending out brochures for the ‘coming soon’ Wood Wharf development about six years ago. I guess the credit crunch interfered with their original plans.

  • Greg

    Looks like someone has been inspired by Richard Seifert’s No. 1 Croydon (which is from 1970 or so)