6 Royal Docks developments that will boost buy-to-let returns

If you really can measure a booming property market by the number of cranes in the sky, then London’s Royal Docks will leave you breathless. Take the DLR from Canning Town just 5 minutes into the heart of Royal Docks and you’ll see a horizon full of developments at different stages of construction.

When Royal Docks was unveiled as both an Enterprise Zone and an Opportunity Area, developers rushed to bid for brownfield sites. The result is phenomenal: 15,000 new homes and 40,000 jobs are being created in an area 4km long; a distance equivalent of a walk from Oxford Circus to Bank.

Here’s a summary of the major Royal Docks developments currently under construction and the ideas still on the drawing board.

1. £3.5bn regeneration of Silvertown Quays

Silvertown Quays is a 27.4-hectare site within Royal Docks. With Royal Victoria Dock to the North and Pontoon Dock at its heart, the development site has more than its fair share of prime waterfront views.

It contains several historical buildings from London’s rich dockside past that add to the charm and character of the area. These include Millennium Mills, the Rank Hovis Building and the Grade II listed Silo D, which will be restored and incorporated into the wider development.

A series of ‘Brand Pavilions’ will give the area a unique feel and will act as an innovation hub. A Floating Village will see 15 acres of water converted into a collection of buoyant homes, cafés, shops and restaurants bobbing below the Emirates Air Line.

The development will create up to 20,680 jobs in office, retail and leisure sectors and around 3,000 homes.

2. £3.7bn regeneration of Canning Town and Custom House

10,000 new homes are under construction in Canning Town as part of a massive regeneration project that will also revamp two town centers by 2024. The project will provide up to 5,000 new jobs.

Hallsville Quarter is the £600m town centre project for Canning Town. It will provide 1,100 new homes, 15 new shops, a hotel, cinema and gym over the course of 5 phases. Work began in 2012 and so far 179 residential units, a large Morrisons supermarket and underground parking are already complete.

The Rathbone Market development that includes the iconic Vermillion Tower will provide 650 new homes, shops, a market square and a library.

3. £1.7bn Asian Business Port

ABP London in Royal Albert Dock is a development that will create 20,000 jobs, 1,000 homes and add £6 billion to London’s economy.

The 35-acre site will eventually be home to over 3.2 million sq ft of work, retail and leisure space, including 2.5 million sq ft of prime office space, creating a vibrant, district on London’s waterways.

ABP is the largest commercial development of its kind in the UK and will attract financial, high-tech and knowledge-based Asian industries looking to establish their business in the UK and European markets, as well as businesses looking to trade with them. When complete, the site will become London’s third business district and should generate £23m a year in business rates.

4. 3,400 homes in Royal Wharf

Royal Wharf is a 363,000 Sqm waterfront development from two leading developers, Oxley Holdings Limited and Ballymore UK. It consists of 3,400 apartments and townhouses, as well as approximately 20,000 sqm of office and retail space. The project will incorporate a new town square, high street retail, restaurants, bars & leisure space, there are also plans for a new school and medical centre.

The development also features a riverside park, linking the proposed Royal Wharf Pier, Royal Wharf Amphitheatre & Riverside Walk. When finished, it will be home to around 10,000 people.

5. Crossrail at Custom House

Custom House will open as a Crossrail station in 2018.  A journey to Canary Wharf will take just 3 minutes, and Tottenham Court Road will take only 15. Even Heathrow airport will under 45 minutes away.

Property research giants JLL expect prices near Custom House to grow 40.5% from 2014-2020 due to Crossrail alone. They also forecast that rental values will rise by 28% in the same period.

6. Growth at London City Airport

Royal Docks has unrivalled links to London City Airport. The airport’s fast turnaround times make it the number one choice for business travellers and frequent flyers. It has just added transatlantic flights to New York to its roster and with the growth of Royal Docks you can expect more routes to be added in the coming years.

London City Airport is applying for planning permission to expand its operations, including infrastructure improvements and greater passenger facilities to meet rising demand.

Future projects in Royal Docks

Proposals for a new cycle and pedestrian bridge across Royal Victoria Dock will improve upon the current footbridge from Silvertown Quays to Custom House DLR. Crucially, it will also improve access to the future Crossrail station. If the project goes ahead, Custom House will be just 500 metres away.

A consultation is underway for a Silvertown Tunnel that will link Royal Victoria Dock with the Greenwich Peninsula in taking roughly the same route as the Emirates Air Line. The tunnel is a ‘Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project’ and if all goes to plan, would start construction in 2018 with an opening scheduled for 2022/2023.

Since May 2015, the Mayor of London has actively been seeking a development partner to redevelop Albert Island in Royal Docks. The Mayor wants to create new commercial space to attract employers and improve connections at Gallions Reach and King George V DLR stations.

There’s also a proposal to transform Royal Albert Basin into a state-of-the-art commercial boatyard.


Royal Docks Investment Summary

Right now, Royal Docks isn’t much to look at. The historic buildings give shades of past glory, and the cranes hint at the potential of the site, but the ripples have started. The first phases of some residential developments are nearing completion and by the time Crossrail opens the entire area will be well on its way to a total transformation.

With 40,000 jobs created there will be massive demand from the new local working population, but also from people viewing Royal Docks as a lifestyle choice.

13 million visitors each year are expected to explore Silvertown Quays alone. Add this to the growing social infrastructure across all the developments and the future pull to the area is going to be huge.

As owning a property within London continues to be out of the reach of most, rental demand is only going one way, especially in the Royal Docks area where there are quick transport links to central London. That’s why buying an off-plan property in today’s market promises to be a particularly lucrative investment.

Brett Alegre-Wood
September 24, 2015

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