New life grows in the shadow of the tower : The Market : DOCKLANDS A SP ECIAL REPORT

The up-turn in the commercial property scene has not been confined to C anary Wharf. David Lawson reports on the growing market

Believe it or not, commercial life does exist outside Canary Wharf. Close to 1m sqft was quietly taken over by new tenants last year in the scattering of offices away from the silver tower.

Docklands has emerged as a bolthole for financial groups, squeezed out of traditional locations by lack of space or frightened away by IRA bombs. Ulster peace talks have eased the pressure but this could be more than balanced by companies who view the dwindling amount of new City space with growing alarm.

When Docklands was first turned into an alternative office location, the City responded by allowing more building. But investors have been slow to respond to the recent erosion of supply in central London. The Jubilee Line has also finally spurred companies into considering moving out.

Jones Lang Wootton charted active demand for more than 2m sqft of space and almost 3m sqft of potential inquiries late last year. If the big lettings to BZW and Morgan Stanley in Canary Wharf go through, JLW says this would cut the vacancy rate to 30 percent compared with 46 per cent in December 1993.

"We have had more people down here asking about sites than for the last five years," says Mike Bignall, development director for the London Docklands Development Corporation.

He is talking to three groups looking for sites to build between 50,000 and 250,000 sqft of space they feel they will not be able to get in the City. And Canary Wharf is not a second-best option.

"They want distinct buildings with their own identity rather than disappearing into a big complex. They also feel current land prices are good value," says Mr Bignall.

Sites being inspected include four acres on Poplar Dock and about 1.5 acres on Millwall Dock. Companies realise they have to look now because once the handful of LDDC sites are gone there will be little left of any quality. They must also harden up plansnow to have a chance of moving in by the time the new tube line opens in 1998.

One site on East India dock, near the Financial Times printing works, could be taken off the list if NCC takes up an option to purchase, following up its existing office development.

Owner-occupiers are leading the hunt. Franklyn Mint took advantage of rock-bottom prices to buy and convert 105,000 sqft of South Quay, taking 40,000 sqft for itself and probably farming out the rest. Financial groups are the big players, however. They need dealing floors and deeper office space than they can get from developers.

Retailers and hotel operators are also active. Apart from the massive Royal Docks plans there are proposals to review 1.2m sqft of retailing at Gallion's Reach near the aborted East London River Crossing. Property Securities Investment Trust should be onsite this year with a scheme for a 105,000 sqft retail park near the Surrey Quays Shopping Centre.

Southwark Council has a scheme for a leisure complex with London & Bath Properties at Canada Yard and at least a couple of hotel operators want to get into Docklands now it is filling up with businesses which need visitor accommodation. Whitbread is alsoworking on a bed-and-breakfast-style scheme at Beckton, which is well placed for the M11 link.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

    £20000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...

    Ashdown Group: Database Analyst - Birmingham - £22,000 plus benefits

    £20000 - £22000 per annum + excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...

    SThree: Recruitment Resourcer

    £20000 - £25000 per annum + Uncapped Commission: SThree: Do you want to get in...

    Ashdown Group: Project Manager - Birmingham - up to £40,000 - 12 month FTC

    £35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Manager - Birmingham - ...

    Day In a Page

    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living
    Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

    Homeless people keep mobile phones

    A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before