London's Wharves Could Provide New Sites For Homes

Rachel Holdsworth
By Rachel Holdsworth Last edited 33 months ago
London's Wharves Could Provide New Sites For Homes
Angerstein Wharf, by Ian Jenkins from the Londonist Flickr pool

London's shipping wharves were once at the centre of making the city the world's most important port. Today they're in obvious decline. With the Chancellor shortly expected to hand the Mayor more power over development of brownfield sites, one property consultancy has been eyeing up the wharves in terms of how many new homes they could support.

The figure arrived at by Daniel Watney LLP is 25,000, though that assumes every one of London's wharves be decommissioned and built over. Ford's Dagenham Terminal, for instance, is earmarked for nearly 12,000 potential homes, but it's still operational with Ford currently making advanced technology diesel engines at the nearby plant.

Old wharf sites around the capital are already providing sites for new houses — most notoriously at Convoy's Wharf in Deptford. And a redevelopment of Albert Wharf, Swedish Wharf and Comley's Wharf in Hammersmith and Fulham is expected to create 237 homes, plus a further 60 lower cost homes elsewhere in the borough.

Since we're talking about affordable housing, it's worth taking a moment to consider the types of homes likely to be built in these prime, riverfront locations. At Convoy's Wharf, just 525 of the proposed 3,500 are deemed 'affordable' (though City Hall is currently going through a review to see if more affordable housing can be delivered). The rest, we can presume, would be largely shimmering glass towers lining the Thames, out of the reach of average wage earners.

And yet, and yet... as Dave Hill at the Guardian points out, a third of 'affordable' homes built recently have been funded out of the pockets of private developers. With government reducing the amount of money available to housing associations — and some housing associations stopping building for low rent altogether because of Right to Buy fears — other sources of low cost homes aren't providing what we need. London's sector is still heavily market driven; if we want 'affordable' homes, is it better to give up the wharves to glass and steel mini villages?

Read more: London’s Last Major Maritime Import Dock

Last Updated 05 September 2015


Housing for the rich!

Roy Tindle

Foolish and factually wrong. The photo is of aggregate yards in Charlton where some 3M tonnes, a year, of sand and gravel - used in building new homes - are landed. Opposite and a little downstream, Tate & Lyle land around 1M tonnes of raw sugar a year are landed. Elsewhere, wharves are used for transport of household waste. Using wharves for housing pushes more lorries onto already congested roads and increases air pollution. It really does help to research before publishing nonsense.

Philip Whitehouse

One argument is that building new homes for rich people stops those people trying to buy up existing houses, making those more affordable of course.

Mary Mills

Is this article for real. The few wharves left were saved because of the desperate situation created throughout the 1970s-and 1980s when it became only too apparent that many basic needs of a big riverside conurbation were failing because wharves had been sterilised by building schemes without any proper framework or thought as to the future. Hence the panic measures on safeguarding taken by john Gummer in the 1990s. Get a grip!