Why canal basins are being labelled as London´s new village greens

February 18, 2020

Canal basins refer to wide waterways that allow boats to travel, moor and overtake one another without causing obstruction. These once industrial sites are being transformed into central hubs for community living and social gatherings.

Many waterways travel through the suburbs of London and permeate the city´s historic infrastructure, however, in modern times the productivity of these basins have fallen away with many now inaccessible. Now, they are centres of activity as huge mixed-use schemes such as accommodation, offices, shops and leisure amenities call the area home.

Previously, canalside buildings were constructed right up against the water so the prime location could only be exclusively enjoyed by residents. The approach for developments has now drastically changed; homes and offices are set back from the canal and towpath to create a public realm for all to enjoy and share as a community.

Aneisha Berridge of Hamptons International agrees with the change and said:

“There is a shift away from the exclusive gated canalside community to the provision of more affordable, community-based home design, often below the Help to Buy cap.”

This year, Canal & River Trust, which looks after 2,000 miles of canals and rivers across England and Wales, celebrates its 200th anniversary with a series of projects to rejuvenate neglected locations into enclaves of wildlife, sport and learning. The Trust´s community-led urban renewal programme aims to reconnect people with the water and continue widespread regeneration of the canal network across London.

Fish Island is currently being transformed into a new waterside community in Hackney Wick; the addition of light industrial buildings, artists´ studios and accommodation along the River Lea are being snapped up by residents and investors alike.

These developments make up some of the 2012 Olympics-led regeneration of the East End, which would go some way to explaining the huge 143 per cent rise in house prices in the area over the last 10 years.

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