Docklands investment property: Poplar E14

Poplar is at the heart of several large-scale urban regeneration projects that will increase rental demand

Urban regeneration is one of those buzzwords you will hear a lot in the world of property investment. There is a good reason for this, as ambitious regeneration plans give investors an opportunity to put their money into an area that currently might not be the most desirable, but is affordable. Then they can watch the desirability and property value of the area grow as regeneration takes effect and demand for property in the area skyrockets. This often leads to very handsome returns on investment.

The E14 postcode has grown to be vitally important to the UK and European economy. Canary Wharf, which is only a 4-minute journey from nearby Canning Town station, has driven an economic renaissance of the Docklands since the late 1980s and caused a ripple-effect to its surrounding areas that have reinvigorated the employment and social opportunities present throughout East London. Extensive regeneration has transformed areas such as Surrey Quays and Royal Docks into stylish modern neighbourhoods that fit the needs of the affluent professionals that work nearby. That’s why Docklands investment property is highly tenantable and affords good yields.

Poplar is an Opportunity Area, an investment now will bring attractive rewards in the future

East London has seen a massive transformation over the last 30 years and has grown to house some of the major employment, retail and leisure hubs in the UK. Investors looking for forward thinking, long term growth opportunities are guaranteed to find what they are looking for in the East End.

All throughout the Docklands and surrounding towns you can see cranes and scaffolding covering large numbers of ambitious building projects, erecting premium housing and office space. However, demand still vastly outstrips supply, as tenants are swarming to the area to make the most of such exciting employment opportunities.

Despite great transport links to major employment hubs, Poplar remains drastically undervalued. Property prices in Poplar are very affordable in comparison to Canary Wharf, which shares the E14 postcode with Poplar.

Just as the ripple effect from Canary Wharf’s massive transformation into a world-leading financial centre in the 1980s has seen major investment in the rest of the East End, Poplar is at the heart of major regeneration that will create 1000s of high quality homes, support the local community and push the value of property to unseen levels.

The early stages of regeneration are complete but there is much more to come, so now is the best time to take advantage of the currently low property prices and watch as the urban development in the area brings it closer to the level of its neighbours, such as Surrey Quays. 

Poplar has a great deal to offer the wave of professional city workers that are already looking for top quality housing in the area, as well as the investors looking to take advantage on this large and growing demand.

Economy & Employment

Poplar is well connected to London’s two major employment centres, the City and Canary Wharf.

Canary Wharf has been a renegade for employment in London, quadrupling from 27,000 people employed in the early 2000s to over 100,000 today. As the area’s expansion continues, it’s been predicted that employment numbers are set to double again, to 200,000 in the near future.

This massive growth has acted as a catalyst for investment in the surrounding areas Canary Wharf and now a master plan is in place to make the docks London’s third business district.

An indicator of just how successful Canary Wharf has been in drawing Londoners is its occupancy rates. Occupancy of the office buildings in the area has recently reached 98%, thanks to lease deals of big tenants like EY Accounting.

Rates this high have not  been seen since the beginning  of the financial crisis and Sir George Lacobescu, the visionary behind London’s Docklands, recently said Canary Wharf is an “engine running at full speed.” If other deals under negotiation complete this will rise further still to 98%.

While many professionals who work in Canary Wharf will be very affluent people who can afford the expensive property prices in the area, there are thousands of administrative professionals or people who are in the earlier stages of their careers, who are looking for more affordable alternatives to Canary Wharf and Surrey Quays.

Investment

Untapped potential and billions of pounds of investment are a recipe for urban transformation.

East London has benefited massively from a large number of major regeneration projects in recent years. The rise of Canary Wharf as a major economic hub and its connection to greater London through the Docklands Light Railway in the 1980s kick-started the transformation of the Docklands that continues to draw major investment and thousands of tenants every year.

The London 2012 Olympics saw billions of pounds of investment in Stratford, just North of Poplar. The legacy of the games remains with the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. Under the Legacy Communities Scheme, The facilities of the Olympic Park will be converted into several new neighbourhoods containing new housing and amenities, spread over four East London boroughs. The International Quarter is a major development in the Olympic Park with a total investment of more than £1.3 billion that will create 4 million sq ft of commercial office space, 330 homes and a new hotel. In all, the site will house more than 10,000 new households.

Nearby Royal Albert Dock is at the heart of a £1 billion deal to create the state of the art Asian Business Port, which will be worth £6bn to the UK economy when complete and has been dubbed “London’s third great business district.” The scheme will include 3.2 million sq ft and will provide 20,000 jobs. This historic project such as this is going to immediately push the demand for property in the area to incredibly high levels.

The Aberfeldy Village development is a £250 million transformation of an existing estate with aims to regenerate the surrounding area and nurture a vibrant and diverse community in Poplar, an undervalued area of East London. Poplar HARCA, an award-winning housing association set up in 1998 to regenerate the Poplar and Tower Hamlets area, have a 12-year agenda aimed at refurbishing and replacing hundreds of homes in the area as well as creating public spaces and health and education facilities that will provide a lasting sense of community in Poplar.

Similarly, Leven Wharf is a development that is set to be one of London’s premier riverside locations. It sits right on the bank of the River Lea, offering beautiful waterside views as well as access to new riverside walks and cycle paths that can take tenants directly to their workplaces in Canary Wharf or nearby.

Close to Leven Wharf, a former gasworks has been decommissioned and completely decontaminated in preparation for redevelopment. The 8.5-hectare site will be transformed into a large scale residential or mixed-use development, providing more quality housing and potential business space to the Poplar area.

Poplar is truly in a state of transformation and is seated in a postcode that has already been reborn as a world-leading business destination. In years to come, those who have invested early will be greatly rewarded.

Transport

East London has seen major boosts to its transport connections with the rest of London as the Docklands have continued to grow as an employment epicentre. These will be improved further with Crossrail in 2018. Custom House will run Crossrail services from 2018 and will have a direct effect on property prices in the area.

East India DLR station and Canning Town Underground and DLR station have fast connections to key areas of the Docklands and Central London such as the O2 Arena, Canary Wharf, Bond Street and Royal Albert, where the Asian Business Port will be opened in 2017.

All of these areas mentioned are incredibly important employment hubs, so these convenient transport links are a key benefit to all kinds of urban professionals working in jobs ranging from finance and professional services to retail and labour.

New riverside walks and cycle parks provide a healthy way for tenants to get around.

A six-minute journey from Canning Town station takes residents to London City Airport, which offers direct flights to over 30 European destinations and international service to New York JFK.

Education

Education provision is another success story for Tower Hamlets.

Tower Hamlets has been at the heart of an education revolution over the last 16 years. In 1998, schools in the borough were performing poorly, with results below the national average. By 2013, through ambitious leadership from Ofsted and several community development initiatives, the average GCSE results for schools in Tower Hamlets were above the national average, and every maintained school in the borough attained a ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ Ofsted rating. This drastic improvement in schools is a microcosm of the wider regeneration and improvement happening throughout Tower Hamlets.

There is a versatile mix of primary and secondary schools in Tower Hamlets that ensures all faiths and special needs are catered for. Notable schools in Poplar include George Green Secondary School and 6th form college, pictured above, which is rated well by Ofsted.

London universities are world-renowned. King’s College, Imperial College London and University College London are just some of the top-rated universities in the capital, all of which is easily commutable from Poplar. Studies have shown that a large number of wealthy overseas students seek rented accommodation in the capital every year, and tend to be very respectful and well-behaved tenants.

Shops & Leisure

Shopping and leisure opportunities are varied and numerous in the areas surrounding Poplar. As Canary Wharf has grown as a business hub it’s also developed as a vibrant retail and dining destination, with an exciting nightlife to match the tastes of the young urban professionals that work there.

Westfield Stratford City is one of the largest shopping centres in Europe and houses hundreds of popular brands as well as dining and leisure facilities. High style brands such as Tiffanys, edgy urban brands like Blue Inc and everything in between can be found at Westfield, as well as designer electronics such as Apple and Samsung.

There is more to see and do in Westfield than can be achieved in one day, so for thousands of people, it is a regular social destination. 300 shops, 80 places to eat, a 24-hour casino and a 17 screen cinema can all be found at this massive retail environment. You can read more about the well documented Westfield Effect on property prices here.

Poplar itself is going to provide its own leisure opportunities. Space for retail stores and community leisure facilities will be provided throughout the development, along with green spaces and open walkways for fun and relaxation.

With open space coming at a premium in London, residents will be happy to benefit from having this landscaped environment on their doorstep.

38.8% increase in one year! Past performance shows us that Docklands investment property makes money for our clients

If we had to pick one reason why we’re so excited about our current properties in the Docklands there’s one clear and simple answer: the area has worked for us (and more importantly our clients) in the past. Last year we sold 15 apartments in development in E14. So far 10 of those apartments have completed and are letting within days at rents that are above projections. 1 bed are achieving £50 more per month than predicted and 2 beds are renting for £100 more per month than predicted. We have seen first hand how much demand there is in the area for new build rental accommodation.

Moreover, the appreciation on the property values has been truly impressive. 1 bed sold in October 2013 now have a list price 38.5 per cent higher than what our clients paid. 2 bed and 2 bath apartments sold at the same time have seen an increase of 38.8 per cent! Demand continues to be greater than supply for accommodation in the E14 postcode, so we have no doubt that apartments in the area will continue this trend of phenomenal growth.

About the Author

Brett has over 20 years experience in all facets of property, he owns various companies centred around property and is the driving force behind the education and training at Gladfish. His companies have sold over £850 million in UK and London property and he manages over 1200 properties through his estate agency chain. Today he shares his time between UK, Australia and Singapore. He is married to Arlene and together they have 4 kids.

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