Royal Docks will be upmarket berths in London

A new town centre, built on the site of the 250-acre Royal Docks area in London, is being promoted to UAE investors with property prices starting at £1.6 million.
Royal Wharf will be built on the site of the 250-acre Royal Docks area in London. Courtesy of Ballymore
Royal Wharf will be built on the site of the 250-acre Royal Docks area in London. Courtesy of Ballymore

Touted as London’s next big thing, Royal Wharf – a redevelopment of the capital’s 250-acre Royal Docks – is being marketed at UAE investors.

The plans are for a new town centre of 3,385 new riverside properties on what were the city’s principal docks during the first half of the twentieth century.

They were showcased by Singaporean developer Oxley and Irish developer Ballymore in both Dubai and Abu Dhabi last month, attracting more than 300 people.

Designed by Ballymore, which sold a share in the £200 million (Dh1.15 billion) site to Oxley last year, the Royal Wharf scheme will eventually comprise a mixture of town houses, maisonettes, studios and one- and two- bedroom apartments.

Prices for these properties, the second phase of the overall project, will start from Dh1.6m and the entire scheme will have an end value of Dh8.8bn.

The project will include two new parks and three pocket parks, a high street with nearly 5,000 square metres of shops, bars and restaurants and a school.

Chesterton, the project’s selling agent, said it was “unable to release sales figures” from the event but added that Middle Eastern sales had “outperformed all other markets globally”.

Samuel Warren, Chesterton director for international residential developments, said: “The turnout confirms that the Middle East is a global centre that is serious about investing into London real estate as an investment class.

“The UAE is our strongest global market. As a region they understand the strong capital returns from London real estate combined with a safe and secure place to invest their capital globally. London is a nearby destination, compared to other global cities, that has a tolerant society and an exciting city to visit.”

Eventually providing homes for about 10,000 people, the first residents will move into Royal Wharf in mid-2016 and the development will be completed by 2020, according to Chesterton.

The project is located on the planned Crossrail route, meaning that residents in 2018 will be able to reach Heathrow Airport in just 41 minutes from the Custom House station which is 1 kilometre away.

Q&A

What were the Royal Docks?

Named after the former Royal Victoria Dock, Royal Albert Dock and Royal George V Dock in London’s East Ham and West Ham areas, the three docks collectively formed the largest enclosed docks in the world with a water area of nearly 101 hectares and an overall estate of 445 hectares. The area is the equivalent to an area of central London from Hyde Park to Tower Bridge.

What did they do?

Completed between 1855 and 1921 on what was previously riverside marshes, the docks were built to load and unload cargo from ships that could not travel further upriver. They specialised in loading and unloading foodstuffs.

What happened?

The Royal Docks survived sustained heavy bombing by the Luftwaffe in the Second World War. However, the introduction of container shipping in the 1960s spelt the end for them as larger vessels struggled to travel up the river. The Royal Docks finally closed to commercial shipping in 1981.

What’s the recent history?

The closure of the docks in the 1980s led to high levels of unemployment and social deprivation in the area, prompting calls for the area to be regenerated. However, due to a lack of transport links, development of the Royals has been more piecemeal than in other parts of the London Docklands. In 2011, 125 hectares of the Royal Docks was granted Enterprise Zone status by the government in an attempt to attract businesses and jobs to the area.

lbarnard@thenational.ae

Published: December 11, 2014 04:00 AM

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