Canary Wharf gives green light to final building

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The Independent Online

After more than two decades, the final part of the master plan for London's Canary Wharf is finally taking shape with the construction of a 20-storey tower at 25 Churchill Place.

The latest addition to the Docklands skyline, announced yesterday, will add another 500,000 square feet of office space, half of which is already pre-let to the European Medicines Agency (EMA). And, despite the economic storm clouds darkening the horizon, developer Canary Wharf Group (CWG) is confident that by the time the building opens its doors in 2014, the rest of the space will also be filled.

Docklands offices are already 97 per cent let, the company says, and demand will spike in the medium term as shortages caused by the development hiatus from the 2008 financial crisis hits.

"Going ahead with Churchill Place is a vote of confidence in Canary Wharf," a spokesman for CWG said. "There's always boom and bust in the London property market, and we're expecting a shortage in 2013-14."

London's commercial property market is proving resilient in the face of growing global uncertainty. According to Investment Property Databank, capital growth in the sector nationwide slowed to 0.4 per cent in the second quarter, the lowest rate since 2009. But London is roaring on at 2.3 per cent.

Office construction across London is also swinging back after the downturn, with 6.4 million sq ft now under construction, compared with 2.7 million six months ago, according toDeloitte's most recent Cranes survey.

For Docklands, the tower at 25 Churchill Place is the last piece in the development begun in 1988. Since then, the area has been transformed beyond recognition. What was once an industrial wasteland of disused warehouses and derelict waterways is now a second financial centre, home to 35 new buildings and 95,000 workers.

There is another 10million square feet of land adjacent to the existing Docklands site, with planning consent in place for more buildings.