For anyone who’s paid attention to what’s been happening in Canary Wharf over the last few years, frankly, it’s something of a rags-to-riches story. This might come as a surprise to those who still identify the area as mainly a financial nerve centre, but these days there’s a bit more to the narrative than that. Instead, it’s become something of a thriving cultural hub. And the truth is, pretty much no one saw that coming.
Created in the 90s by The Canary Wharf Group from what was the West India Docks, there was, initially, real resistance to the development of what was primarily office space. Understandably enough, this was viewed as a potential disaster, despite the fact that trade in the docks had declined to almost nothing. After all, who was going to fill that office space? Potentially no one, until, that is, the creation of the Jubilee Line Extension, which the government fast-tracked in time for the millennium celebrations.
Fast forward to today. Instead of standing empty and neglected, the area is flourishing, and if anyone’s still wondering why, it’s because of the community that now lives there. Once identified as mostly bankers and financiers (or men in suits), a range of new developments have attracted people from all walks of life and, as a result, the atmosphere has changed beyond recognition. Music, art, cafe culture and actual nightlife? It’s safe to say that local residents have completely transformed the landscape.
The upshot is that developers have continued to respond in kind, fashioning modern living spaces that (despite stiff competition) rank as some of the best anywhere in the capital. Wood Wharf, for instance, whilst still a work in progress has clearly taken on board this more modern approach to 21st-century living, promising what we all want, but taken to what you might describe as the next level. This, in effect, means plenty of green spaces, first-class amenities, plus well-known restaurants like Hawksmoor, Roka or The M Restaurant. Which, when you think about it, really isn’t too much to ask.
In many ways, though, events in Wood Wharf are only taking their cues from existing living environments like One Park Drive, 10 Park Drive or South Quay Plaza. But despite how appealing these settings might be (and, of course, no expense has been spared), they’re only as good as the people that live there. Because it’s residents who, over recent years, have transformed this project into a success that’s far more than the sum of its parts. Something developers everywhere would do well to remember.
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