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Old buildings with new faces – the shock of the old

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It’s no mystery as to why the banks of the River Thames seem to be attracting the most attention in terms of regeneration and transformation. Docks, warehouses and industrial buildings possess the space, solidity and positioning that is simply irresistible to developers and rental investors who continue to see the returns that London property continues to offer.

As you cruise down river in 2015, you’re likely to spot a few elegant reminders of London’s imperial past that now serve as desirable addresses for London’s growing population. So let’s go on a short architectural cruise and take a look at some of London’s landmarks to see how bricks and mortar continue to evolve.

Harrods DepositryRounding the river bend at Kew and passing under Barnes Bridge brings us within sight of the terracotta brick splendour of the Grade II-listed Harrods Depository. Like its former owner, it is ornate, elegant and perfectly positioned. Harrods acquired this old soap factory in the late 1800s and used it to house large furniture items that couldn’t be kept at the site of the famous store in Knightsbridge. Today, it is home to 250 townhouses and penthouse suites while retaining the beautiful and unusual facade created in 1914. Not wanting to miss a luxury branding trick, the development is named Harrods Village.

Imperial WharfTravelling eastwards down river, we pass on our left a series of Victorian brick buildings surrounded by a gleaming new man-made marina. This is Sands End which was once a pretty grim looking 19th century gas works and pump station. It’s now been spruced up and turned into an inland harbour for pleasure boats. The harbour is backed by luxury apartment schemes such as Imperial Wharf and Chelsea Creek, accompanied by select retail outlets, bars and restaurants. Sands End is the encouraging result of all the commercial energy generated by the Imperial Wharf property development, a big favourite with corporate tenants who prefer to do their daily commute into London via the Thames Clipper. Property investors have seen property values here soar by 50% in the last three years. Our lettings branch situated at the development continues to do brisk rentals with 2 bed apartments the most sought after and rents starting at £500 per week.

Riverlight, Nine Elms Lane , London SW8Now we come to London’s Godzilla of redevelopment. The riverside brick colossus that is Battersea Power Station is often held up as a symbol of imperial power and human industry: a kind of upriver alter ego to the more spiritual monument of St Paul’s Cathedral. It’s certainly hard to ignore its four chimneys that have been immortalised in pop culture due to the efforts of rock icons, Pink Floyd, who featured the building on the cover of their ‘Animals’ album. The power station is now one of the foremost epicentres of brand new accommodation in the capital. Positioned on the south bank of River Thames near Nine Elms, its location makes it a natural site for the kind of luxury housing that places a premium on views, space and proximity to central London. Ten years ago these plans would have stuck out like a sore thumb, but now that riverside development schemes are commonplace, Battersea is now a desirable jewel in the riverbank crown with a unique history to go with its unmistakable profile.

WappingPassing under the tourist-laden bridges of central London, we get beyond the last one (Tower Bridge) and find ourselves in Wapping, once the beating heart of the nation’s commercial endeavours. The legacy here takes the form of a massive inland dry dock that was converted into a huge printworks in the 1980s. The inevitable relocation of industry followed, leaving developers the task of turning this mass of warehouses and office space into accommodation fit for today’s generation of professional renters. Their efforts have been rewarded by the launch of London Dock, a spectacular collection of luxury apartments situated very close to the Square Mile, London’s financial district.

Such is the draw of London’s buildings, both old and new and having learned our lessons from the sixties and seventies, when we demolished acres of heritage in favour of concrete, we are now busy repurposing our precious past which is leading to both some attractive and exciting choices for those now seeking a property to rent in London.

If you would like more information about the developments mentioned or an update on the London rental market contact our friendly staff here.

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About the Author

Established in 1958, Benham and Reeves is one of London’s oldest, independently owned property lettings and sales agents.  With specialism in residential sales, corporate lettings and property management in prime areas of London, the company operates from 21 prominently located branches and 15 international offices.

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