News – Green homes at Canary Wharf

Green homes at Canary Wharf

Andrew Riley
If you want to get a massive housing development past the planners these days, you’ve got to ensure your scheme is carbon-conscious.

Four new towers soon to rise in the shadow of Canary Wharf are set to use a biomass heating plant (deemed a renewable energy source because it uses wood) as well as solar water-heating panels that cover 8,000 sq ft. Both measures will help to reduce the CO2 emissions of the scheme. Nearly 700 apartments, including at least 125 affordable homes, will be created on the 2¼-acre brownfield site at 22 Marsh Wall. The biggest tower will be 40 storeys and 460ft high; the adjacent block is 27 storeys. The other two are each eight storeys; their roofs will be planted for insulation and to provide nest sites for black redstarts. The scheme covers nearly 100,000 sq ft and includes offices, shops, restaurants, public spaces and parking. The architects are Squire and Partners, the firm behind The Knightsbridge, a luxury apartment complex near Harrods. Construction work is due to start next month and to finish by 2010.

Tower Hamlets council has granted full planning consent, although the developer, Chalegrove Properties, has since submitted plans to squeeze in an extra 100 homes by lowering the ceiling height, thus increasing the number of storeys to 44 in the tallest tower and to 30 in the adjacent tower. The focal point will be a central square with cafés and restaurants, according to Squire and Partners. There is a cycle space in the basement for every apartment but only 192 parking spaces for cars.

The scheme has involved a loss of London’s industrial heritage, however. Several 19th and 20th-century buildings that once housed a jam and pickle-making factory, Morton’s, have been demolished to create space. At its peak there were 20 factories in the Morton’s complex and a dock where the Cascades residential tower is now. The factories were not listed and were not in a conservation area, although a report from the Museum of London Archaeology Service, commissioned by the developer, stated that two of the buildings were “good and largely intact examples of early 20th-century factory buildings, of a type that is becoming increasingly rare as London’s former industrial sites are redeveloped”.

One of the two buildings latterly housed a cycle warehouse. Max Knott, manager of Wharf Cycles, which has moved to new premises near by at Millharbour, said: “It’s a shame it had to go and that it wasn’t listed when it could have been. It would have made a lovely conversion.”