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The Rise of Wood Wharf

Over the last few years, the top of the Island and Canary Wharf has seen unprecedented development with a number of large scale projects. One of the largest developments has been the Wood Wharf site which will have a mix of uses, including a residential area for over 3,200 new homes, nearly 2 million sq ft of commercial office space, and 335,000 sq ft of shops, restaurants and community uses.

Wood Wharf is part of the historic West India Docks and is the largest addition to the Canary Wharf estate since it came into being.

With part of the development near to completion, it is now possible to have a wander around some parts of Wood Wharf.

Wood Wharf is connected to the main estate by a bridge with two large Floating Pavilions nearby, one of which will be a restaurant.

Like Canary Wharf, Wood Wharf makes full use of the docks themselves with dockside walks and views from the Blue Bridge to the new buildings in the west.

The neighbourhood will have everything a thriving community needs, from a new local primary school to its own doctor’s surgery.

Like Canary Wharf, Wood Wharf already has plenty of outside public art and sitting areas.

Wood Wharf is multi-billion pound development and is expected to generate £2bn gross value from new jobs, add £199m into the local small business economy and generate 20,000 new jobs.

Under normal circumstances, the opening of Wood Wharf would a cause for celebration, however recent events have cast a cloud over the whole Canary Wharf site.

With many large firms allowing workers to work for home, many people are now looking at Wood Wharf and now asking whether it is surplus to requirements. Due to its mixed usage, it might escape the slowdown in Canary Wharf itself.

What the site does for visitors is provide plenty of attractive walks around the docks and places to sit and watch the boats and ships when they return to the dock.

The Changing Face of Canary Wharf – June 2019

Each year, I try to keep readers up to date with some of the latest building developments on the Island and Canary Wharf.  It has been a time when the various developments have progressed quickly and the new Canary Wharf skyline is beginning to take shape.

Whilst there are some major developments on the Island, most of the larger developments are around Millwall Dock, Marsh Wall and especially overlooking the South Dock around South Quay and the developments in Canary Wharf are taking place in the east and west fringes of the estate. Two major schemes are under development, Wood Wharf and the Newfoundland development.

Both developments have made considerable progress with the buildings steadily moving upwards, the Wood Wharf site in particular is taking shape with its distinct residential tower climbing higher  and other buildings in various states of development.

When completed the Wood Wharf site will have a mix of uses, including a residential area for over 3,200 new homes, nearly 2 million sq ft of commercial office space, and 335,000 sq ft of shops, restaurants and community uses.

At the other side of the Island, the 58-storey residential tower on the Newfoundland site is now well into construction with glass facades nearly completed.

If you think this will be tall, it will be dwarfed by the new development over the road from the Newfoundland site, it is based on the old City Arms site and is called the Landmark Pinnacle which will have 75 levels which the developers claim will be London’s largest residential tower. This will eventually be part of the Landmark complex which is situated near the site.

Along Marsh Wall are the beginnings of the Wardian towers, there will be two blocks at South Quay Plaza, Galliard are building more towers which will be part of Millharbour Village and finally there is the Madison scheme is progressing well.

It is remarkable that except for complaining about the various road and path closures and the disruption of lorries delivering materials, most people take very little notice of the various developments until they are completed.

It is worth noting that this is one of the biggest developments in the United Kingdom since Canary Wharf was built. Because most of the development has been concentrated at the top of the Island, there has not been widespread criticism, although many questions are being asked about coping with the increased population and the increase in workers coming into Canary Wharf to work.  In the next few years, it is expected the population of the Isle of Dogs will be double that of 2011. The delay to Crossrail is not likely to impact too much due to the buildings state of development in not anywhere near completion.

The history of the Isle of Dogs has been about change, however in the next decade; the whole skyline of the Isle of Dogs will change dramatically. It is part of the process that started with the building of Canary Wharf skyscrapers that seemed to change London’s attitude to tall buildings forever.

The Rise of Wood Wharf in Canary Wharf

Over the last few years, we have kept a close eye on many of the developments taking place on the Island and Canary Wharf.  One of the largest developments has been Wood Wharf which is considered one of the most ambitious urban regeneration projects in London.

Unlike the main part of Canary Wharf, Wood Wharf is being developed into a 23 acre site with 5m sq. ft of mixed use space. Built on the former docks site, it is envisaged that Wood Wharf will have one of the largest clusters of tech and creative businesses in the UK. Canary Wharf Group are hoping that this Hi Tech hub will bring 20,000 jobs to the region, generate £2bn gross value from new jobs and £199m into the local small business economy.

Canary Wharf Group have produced some computer generated impressions of the finished site that offer a view of Canary Wharf which will probably the final stage of large development in the near future.

The site will have open spaces, waterside walkways, running trails and more retail areas and will be designed to high sustainability standards. The development will be targeting zero-carbon and zero-waste and is being built to have a positive social impact on the local area and communities. 25 per cent of the 3,600 residential homes will be affordable housing.

Although the new development does not directly impinge on the Isle of Dogs, indirectly it will have a knock on affect will more people living and working in the area. The top of the Island has seen unprecedented amounts of development in recent years and that development is slowly encroaching towards the bottom. It is likely that the development of Wood Wharf will accelerate that process even further.

The 1980s and 1990s saw the development of one of the largest business districts in Europe, that development was not necessarily welcomed by many Island residents. However in last 30 years, the Island has changed considerably and many will view the Wood Wharf development as more of an extension of the Canary Wharf footprint. Lots of Islanders use Canary Wharf for shopping, attending the various events and the transport system and of course, many residents work on the Canary Wharf estate.

In the 1800, the Isle of Dogs was largely inhabited before the coming of the Docks, after the rise and fall of the docks, we now have the rise of Canary Wharf. So the only real constant for the Island is change but there are few areas in London that have been the site of so many large global concerns in a relatively short time.

The Construction of Wood Wharf – June 2015


When the tall ships arrived last September, Wood Wharf was a wonderful sight, full of ships and people. Fast forward, nearly a year later and we have a very different site. Construction has started on the development to  broaden and extend the Canary Wharf Estate. The masterplan is to create a development with a mix of uses, providing over 3,200 new homes, nearly 2 million sq ft of commercial office space, and a further 335,000 sq ft of shops, restaurants and community uses.


However this is no ordinary site because part of the plans is to reclaiming part of the dock area by constructing a cofferdam. It is expected that 9000sqm of land will be reclaimed from West India Dock South, but this will only achieved by some major work on the cofferdam which will make it watertight to be drained and then filled in.

The cofferdam design features 160 tubular piles 1220mm in diameter socketed 10m into the dock bed. The tubular piles are up to 21m long and each pile is cased, drilled then installed into place below the water. In between the tubular piles sheet piles are installed to create a watertight retaining structure for the 10m head of water being held back.


This work has already began and the sight of large cranes on pontoons being transported around have become commonplace. Although The Wood Wharf project is a large project it does face a number of difficulties that makes it not one of the easiest development. For example access to the site is limited especially for lorries, therefore the constructors are bringing in materials by river where possible. There is also the problem of operating within a dock area which needs testing of dock walls and of silt in the dock. Lack of access means that cranes are taken around the site on large pontoons.The dock is still in use with shipping, so movement of equipment and barges and other marine vessels has to be cordinated with other users.


Sometimes we are so used to developments that we underestimate the difficulties that they sometimes have to overcome. The Wood Wharf project is a good opportunity to watch the different stages of development at close quaters, so if you are in the area over the next few months why not take a look.

The Changing Face of the Isle of Dogs


Walking around Canary Wharf and Marsh Wall gives the impression that the top of the Isle of Dogs is one big building site.


Heron Quays

The work on Heron Quays and Wood Wharf are part of the Canary Wharf group masterplan that will include the first residential housing on the estate.


Wood Wharf

On Marsh Wall , there are already a couple of tall residential buildings with the Landmark and Pan Peninsula developments, other construction is being carried out at the new Novotel hotel on Marsh Wall and the Baltimore Tower in Millwall Dock area.


A report last week by an Architecture survey indicates this is just the beginning of a move to build tall buildings all over London but particularly in Tower Hamlets and the South of the river.

The New London Architecture (NLA) and GL Hearn released the results of their annual London Tall Buildings Survey. The survey highlighted  12 months ago , 236 tall buildings were planned for the capital. However the new data finds 263 tall buildings over 20-storeys proposed, approved or under construction within Greater London. This figure includes 76 proposed or in the planning system, 117 with planning approval , and 70 under construction.

62 of the 70 towers currently under construction are residential and 80% of all 263 towers in the pipeline have a primary residential use.

Tower Hamlets was at the centre of the tower boom last year and will see the most activity this year, with 18 tall buildings under construction, 27 with planning approval and 14 in planning.

The dominance of Tower Hamlets is reflected in the status of tall building proposals  the borough has the most approved towers (27 or 23%) and the most proposed towers (22 or 29%).  Tower Hamlets also has the highest number development projects under construction with 18 proposals (26%).


Riverside development

Regular readers will know that I often relate how often these big schemes never get off the ground and are often mothballed for years,the Riverside development is one such example.

However, even if only a percentage  are built it is going to drastically change the face and the character of the Island. It is fair to say that the building of Canary Wharf and the large apartments around the edge of the Island were generally built on old industrial sites. The new developments are still clustered around the top of the Island but there is evidence of steady encroachment into the centre which will impinge on the many residential areas.

With a planning stage of generally eight months and then  around six years for completion, the full picture of these developments will not really been seen for 6 to 10 years. By that time this once neglected piece of London will have some of the most expensive property in London.

A quick survey of some of the schemes on the Island shows the state of play for many of the developments.



Designed by Horden Cherry Lee Architects and developed by Canary Wharf Group.

This 60-storey tower is currently In planning.

Quay House, 2 Admiral Way

Designed by Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates and developed by Investin.

This 68-storey tower is currently Refused.
Cuba Street Tower 2

Designed by 3D Reid / Gultekin Architecture and developed by Talya (was Agaoglu Group).

This 57-storey tower is currently Proposed.
City Pride

Designed by Squire and Partners and developed by Chalegrove Properties.

This 75-storey tower is currently Approved.


Novotel Canary Wharf ,40 Marsh Wall,

Height: 124m | Floors: 39 | Architect: BUJ Architects | Developer: Accor

Current status: Under Construction

Millharbour Village

Designed by Rolfe Judd and developed by Docklands Centre Ltd .

This 50-storey tower is currently In planning.

Angel House, 225 Marsh Wall

Designed by Jacobs Webber and developed by The Angel Group.

This 43-storey tower is currently Approved.

1-18 Dollar Bay Court

Designed by Ian Simpson Architects and developed by Mount Anvil.

This 31-storey tower is currently Under construction.

Lincoln Plaza (previously Indescon Court Phase 2)

Designed by BFLS and developed by Galliard Homes (was Oracle).

This 32-storey tower is currently Approved.

Glengall Bridge

Designed by and developed by Tameric Investments.

This 45-storey tower is currently Proposed.

1 Park Place

Designed by Horden Cherry Lea Architects and developed by Canary Wharf Group Plc.

This 33-storey tower is currently In planning.

151 East Ferry Road

Designed by Town and Beach and developed by Asda Stores Ltd/Ashbourne Beech.

This 21-storey tower is currently Approved.


Designed by TP Bennett and developed by Telford Homes .

This 23-storey tower is currently Approved.

A Walk around West India Dock – February 2015


At this time of the year, West India Dock has very few ships visiting but still there is always plenty to find interesting.

The Canary Wharf Group is pressing ahead with two of their major building projects in Heron Quays and Wood Wharf.


The Heron Quays site in particular has been the focus of considerable activity, interestingly part of the project is virtually on the water and a large number of piles have been driven into the dock. Large cranes on pontoons have also been used and yesterday crowds of people watched as one of these pontoons was moved from Heron Quays to Wood Wharf.


Although it was a tight squeeze under the DLR track, the major disruption was the swing bridge which was out of action for some time. ‘Bridgers’ were a well known hazard of living on the Isle of Dogs as the ships entered the docks. However many of the modern office workers who got stuck on the South Quay side looked distinctly unimpressed by the procedure.


As the pontoon was pulled and pushed by tugs into position in Wood Wharf, I took the opportunity to wander past the Will Sailing Barge and down to where the Lord Amory, the Portwey and the Massey Shaw are berthed.


An interesting new addition to the dock is a houseboat with a difference, it is certainly a innovative design the top looks like an apartment placed onto a wide boat base. You would certainly get a great view but looks like it would have to be towed from place to place.With house prices rocketing it may offer a more  economical approach and represent  the modern version of living on a houseboat.




Super Yacht Christopher in West India Dock


After the excitement of the Tall Ships, it is back to normal in West India Dock with the arrival in the early evening of the Super Yacht  SY Christopher.


However there is a connection with the Tall Ships they started in Falmouth before coming to Greenwich, the Christopher was launched in Falmouth in December by Cornish ship builders Pendennis .


The 46m (150ft) ketch was designed by Ron Holland, based on the classic yachts of the past.


The yacht has  three staterooms and a study that will provide guests with accommodation for up to 12, with a further four cabins forward, sleeping eight crew.



LOA 46m (150.9ft)
Draft 3.8m (12.5ft keel up) 9.4m (31ft keel down)
Beam 9.5m (31.2ft


The yacht has recently been  in Scandinavia and as usual with Super Yachts little is known about the owner or its future plans .


Photograph by Eric Pemberton

In contrast to the clear bright evening , early this morning the Phoenix Reisen cruise ship Albatros was spotted making its way around the Isle of Dogs in a river mist.


Photograph by Eric Pemberton


Photograph by Eric Pemberton




Join the Fry High Club in Wood Wharf


One of the pleasures of living near Canary Wharf  is that it tends to be a magnet for all manner of commercial operations that try to attract business from the many thousands that work there.

The latest is London in the Sky, a pop up restaurant with a difference !


For  10 days, five of London’s  Michelin starred restaurants will transfer their menus and dining experiences to a sky table, suspended 100 feet in the air. The table seats 22 guests, with a guest chef, sommelier and waiting team serving from the centre of the table.


So it really is a pop up and away restaurant I suppose ? watching the lunch customers hoisted above Wood Wharf, I began to consider what kind of experience it would be ?

Could you really enjoy a meal dangled 100 feet from the floor , tied into your seat and open to the elements ? Yes there is a little umbrella top but the gusts of wind off the river may disturb your soufflé.


Drink may be another problem, you may decide to intake but the inevitable outcome is a trip to the toilet. Ah that may be a problem and involving squirming in the seat until landing.

I would guarantee that if I went in a party, I would be the one sitting next to the person who would spend the entire lunch regaling me with all the other strange spots they had dined in.


Is life so dull in Canary Wharf that office workers will look longingly out of the window and say lets do lunch dangled under a crane ?

I can see the old crane drivers from the docks looking at the table and thinking they could have done that for a tenner with Jellied Eels thrown in.


But I may just be out of touch with the modern dining experience, if you are interested here is the price list.

Breakfast in the Sky  08.30 – 09.00  £50pp
Breakfast in the Sky  09.30 – 10.00  £50pp

Lunch in the Sky  12.00 – 12.45  £200pp
Lunch in the Sky  13.15 – 14.00  £200pp

Taittinger in the Sky  15.30 – 16.00  £75pp
Taittinger in the Sky  16.30 – 17.00  £75pp

Dinner in the Sky  18.30 – 19.30  £250pp
Dinner in the Sky  20.00 – 21.00  £250pp

Taittinger in the Sky  21.30 – 22.00  £75pp


On a more serious note, there is a small big top being erected for Spiegeltent in Wood Wharf which offers 10 days of Entertainment, some of the highlights include Henry Blofeld talking about Test Match Special, a Silent Disco and a Aircraft Circus .  There  are a number of music, comedy and kids events.



The Arrival of the Tall Ships in West India Dock


Walking down the east side of the Island this morning, early morning joggers and walkers came across a rather unusual sight, a line of tall ships moored near North Greenwich.


I say unusual sight but if we go back a 150 years ago it would have been extremely common and in many ways the south dock of the West India Dock was the spiritual home of the clipper fleet in London. Many of the famous clipper ships such as the Cutty Sark and Thermopylae were often moored in the dock.


The South Dock 1885 (Photo National Maritime Museum)

The large number of ships moored  today for the Greenwich Tall Ships Festival are not the largest in the fleet but they all have a story and are interesting in their own right.


Over the weekend, I will be looking at some of the ships in more depth and reveal some of their interesting histories .


Although only the first morning of the festival , there were already a large number of people looking at the boats and talking to the crews.


 Just entering the dock is the John Laing with HRH Countess of Wessex aboard


Standing proud on the other side of the dock is the Stad Amsterdam which is not part of the festival but is well worth a look.


Super Yacht Kamalaya in West India Dock


Super Yacht Kamalaya

This afternoon saw the  arrival of the Superyacht  Kamalaya into West India Dock.

Built in 2013 by Amels Holland  in the Netherlands, designed by  Tim Heywood, it is registered in George Town, Cayman Islands


Made of steel and aluminium, the 55-metre luxury yacht Kalamaya is powered by twin MTU 16V 2000 M70 diesels, reaching a top speed of 15,5 knots and a cruising speed of 13 knots, she has a beam of 9m (29’53”) and a maximum draught of 3,35m (10’99”).


The Yacht can comfortably accommodate up to 12 guests overnight in 6 cabins, comprising a master suite, She is also capable of carrying up to 13 crew onboard .


As is usual in the Super Yacht world, finding out who owns the yacht is surprisingly difficult and how long it will be in West India Dock, however it does not seem to available for charter .