The area make-up of London’s Docklands, E14, has changed significantly recently and the Canary Wharf of today, and the area immediately surrounding it, is no longer the solely banking and financial hub it once was.
Despite still housing the UK headquarters for many global banks, including Citi, Barclays and HSBC, there is a greater mix of occupiers than ever before. In 2007 banking and financial occupiers accounted for 80 per cent of the working population. Today this is 50 per cent.
Crossrail (opening this year) and the station at Crossrail Place will make the area more accessible. When the Elizabeth Line fully opens in December 2019 passengers will be able to travel directly from Canary Wharf to Paddington (20 minutes), Heathrow (39 minutes), Reading, and Abbey Wood in the east.
As a result, the area is attracting footloose occupiers who question paying approximately £100 per sq ft in Mayfair, for example, when you can pay £40 per sq ft in Canary Wharf and be under 20 minutes away. In the last 12 months the Government Property Unit (540,000 sq ft), The Energy Savings Trust (7,000 sq ft), British American Tobacco (21,000 sq ft), Gorkana (40,000 sq ft) and Deliveroo (15,000 sq ft) have all taken offices in E14.
These footloose occupiers are arriving from all over London but in particular we see the area appealing to businesses looking to relocate from the evermore expensive Clerkenwell and Shoreditch and technology companies who want lower rents and business rates. For example, software development company Luxoft is expanding from offices in Old Street to take an additional office in Exchange Tower. Meanwhile the Jubilee Line allows good connectivity for occupiers based in Southwark. What’s more, companies moving to the area can also benefit from proximity to Tower Hamlets, the fastest-growing London borough by population and salary.
Adding to the arrival of new occupiers is the fall-out from Level39, Canary Wharf Group’s technology-centred co-working space, which has grown into a three-floor, 80,000 sq ft community space in One Canada Square. When start-up businesses outgrow Level39 they then expand into conventional office space.
The knock-on effect of this richer occupier mix is a more vibrant street scene and community, investment into public realm and improving retail and leisure amenities. Crossrail Place has over 100,000 sq ft of new retail, including a seven-day-a-week eating and drinking 'rooftopia’ street food concept from Street Feast. This combination of retail and leisure is popular all week, with weekend trade better than weekdays at many bars and restaurants.
The completion of Wood Wharf in 2020, which has been designed to provide 3,300 new homes in a mixed use, waterside community, will further embed the 24/7 feel of Canary Wharf as somewhere people will want to live, work and visit.
With this combination of an increasingly diverse occupier mix, established but evolving retail and leisure and new residential opportunities it could be argued the stars are finally aligning for London’s Docklands as it matures into a waterfront destination for all, which appeals to an ever expanding range of companies, employees, residents and visitors.