Legacy: Canary Wharf Group looks to the future
CANARY Wharf is striving to create a London legacy all of its own.
More than 20 years after the first buildings on the estate were completed, a total of 15 million square foot of land has been developed, with 33 different buildings adding to the uniqueness of the Canary Wharf skyline.
But there is a small matter of a 10million square foot section of land, which could play a key role in the transformation of the area.
And members of Canary Wharf Group Plc, the company responsible for building and developing the estate, have revealed there is an exciting future ahead with a number of significant projects in the pipeline.
THE Crossrail project began in 2009, with the aim of creating a high-frequency overground train service, similar to the RER in Paris, to forge a rapid transport link between Canary Wharf and the City of London.
John Garwood, company secretary and legal counsel for Canary Wharf Group, explained that the company had signed an agreement with the government to build the station box at the North Dock in West India Quay, for a cost of £500million, with a contribution of £150million from the group itself.
"It is going to make a massive difference to Canary Wharf," he said.
"It is an amazing thing and we are very proud to be a part of it."
"It will have six stories to it," he added, talking of the new facility.
"Four stories for retail and two stories for the station.
"It gives us four extra layers of retail - 96.5 per cent of our offices are let but the shops are fully let, so there will be 100,000 square feet of more retail coming in.
"The top two layers of retail will open in 2015 because the demand is so strong."
The remainder of the Crossrail project is expected to open in 2018.
AT present, the ratio of financial services companies to other businesses on the Canary Wharf estate is split 60 to 40, in favour of banking.
But statistics in the next couple of years could tell a different story.
Mr Garwood explained that the appointment of Tech City chief executive Eric Van Der Kleij would help to steer media, technology and telecommunications companies to Canary Wharf.
And he said that the estate had a 'unique' opportunity to build on the synergy between finance and technology.
"The market is changing," he said.
"There are a lot of other users here as well, lawyers, accountants, technology, telecommunications and the media.
"The media has one million square foot of occupancy and there are a lot of technology companies here already.
"We estimate there are 7,000 IT professionals in Canary Wharf.
"What technology companies need to grow is funding - if they are situated here in the financial infrastructure they would have a lot of their clients here."
Mr Garwood added that Mr Van Der Kleij would also play a role in the proposed creation of a digital hub on the estate.
FULL ownership of Wood Wharf presents the Canary Wharf Group with a 'blank page' for development, said Mr Garwood.
Outline planning consent has been granted to transform the site into a mixed commercial, retail and residential site - potentially bringing a new aspect to the estate.
More than 1,600 new homes, including affordable housing, could be built a stones throw away from the business hub.
Referring to the potential for residential development, Mr Garwood said the plans, which offered much 'flexibility', were still in the early stages.
Although more generally, he explained that new developments would generate a closer relationship between business and residential sites.
"In the future, what we will see is much closer engagement between residential and commercial," he said.
"Previously, we had blocks of commercial and residential elsewhere but increasingly what we are seeing is a desire to be part of a more single community, where you live and work much more closely together."
Hamish McDougall, communications manager, added: "There are 100,000 people here but we have got planning permission in place to nearly double that by 2025.
"We have got a lot of growth at Canary Wharf and we feel that we were pioneers of regeneration in East London.
"If you add all these positive things together, we like to think the East End of London is one of the most dynamic areas of Europe right now."