Spotlight on: South Bank and Bankside

Anthea Masey
Thursday 21 April 2016 14:55
The South Bank is home to a number of London's cultural landmarks
The South Bank is home to a number of London's cultural landmarks

Along the southern bank of the Thames, from Westminster Bridge in the west and through Bankside to London Bridge in the east, runs the capital’s favourite promenade.

This glorious stretch of the river includes some of the city’s most recognisable landmarks and artistic institutions — the so-called string of cultural pearls — from the Sea Life London Aquarium opposite Westminster to Tate Modern and Shakespeare’s Globe theatre facing the City.

Highlights along the route include the London Eye, Royal Festival Hall, the National Theatre, BFI Southbank — home of British film, Borough Market and a reconstruction of Sir Francis Drake’s galleon the Golden Hinde.

Estate agent Daniel Montaque from the local branch of Kinleigh Folkard & Hayward says the appeal of South Bank and Bankside is down to their central location and vibrancy.

“Most of our buyers are young professional singles or couples who work in the City and live busy lives. From here it is a 10- or 15-minute walk to work for them, and in the evening there is a sense of being a part of all the good stuff that London has to offer.”

The Globe Theatre is reconstruction of the original that housed Shakespeare's company of players

Home buyers should head to Bankside, which is being transformed with new properties including a number of blocks that are among the tallest residential towers in the capital. Elsewhere in the district, there is a mix of modern flats dating from the Seventies onwards, warehouse conversions and estates of social housing.

The Roupell Street conservation area is a “hidden” enclave of flat-fronted, straight-off-the-street cottages between Stamford Street and Waterloo East train station. It has an almost Dickensian feel.

New-build homes

The largest new development in terms of the number of homes is Southbank Place between York Road and Belvedere Road, where architect Squire and Partners is masterminding the redevelopment of the former Shell HQ site with developers Qatari Diar and Canary Wharf Group. There will be eight buildings in all, including the redeveloped Shell Centre tower, plus a new base for the oil company.

In total there are 790 new studio, one-, two- and three-bedroom flats and penthouses. The first residential tower, Thirty Casson Square, is a 29-storey block with prices from £655,000 to £3.99 million, with completion due in 2019. Completion of the whole development is likely to be the following year. Visit (020 7001 3600).

The tallest residential South Bank tower is One Blackfriars. Developer St George is building the 50-storey block of 274 studio, one-, two-, three- and four-bedroom flats and a five-floor “pentuplex”, plus a public viewing platform on the 32nd floor. In Blackfriars Road between Stamford Street and Upper Ground, the tower, designed by architectural practice SimpsonHaugh and Partners, is part of a larger development which includes a hotel and retail and leisure block. Prices of the current phase range from £1.15 million for a studio to £23 million. The tower will complete in spring 2018. Call 020 7871 7188.

The Old Vic Theatre, between Waterloo and Southwark stations

Affordable homes

Southbank Place offers 52 extra care flats for the elderly and disabled, plus 46 flats at intermediate rent on the Shell site and off-site provision of 70 affordable homes in Lollard Street in nearby Kennington. No housing association has yet been appointed.

One Blackfriars developer St George is paying £29 million to Southwark, the local council, to provide off-site social housing elsewhere in the borough.

Homes for rent

Rental manager Helen Douglas at Kinleigh Folkard & Hayward says most clients are professional singles, couples or sharers. Rents are highest near the river or London Bridge and Waterloo stations, getting cheaper towards Elephant and Castle.


Three mainline stations serve the area: London Bridge, Blackfriars —now with an entrance on the south side of the Thames — and Waterloo. All three also have Underground stations, and Southwark is the fourth local Tube station. Waterloo is on the Bakerloo, Jubilee and Northern lines, with Blackfriars on the District and Circle lines, London Bridge on the Jubilee and Northern lines, and Southwark on the Jubilee line. All stations are in Zone 1 and an annual travelcard costs £1,296.

South Bank Tower

South Bank Tower is a joint venture between property investor CIT and Saudi-based Jadwa Investment. Situated between the Royal Festival Hall and Shakespeare’s Globe theatre behind Sea Containers House in Upper Ground, this 40-storey tower contains 193 studios, one-, two- and three-bedroom flats and penthouses. Residents have already moved in and the tower will be completed in May; 54 flats remain and prices range from £1.8 million for a two-bedroom flat to £20 million for a penthouse. Visit or call 020 3267 1048.

Neo Bankside has four striking hexagonal blocks at the front of Tate Modern from developer Native Land designed by Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners. Two penthouses remain and prices start at £5.95 million. Visit or call 020 7998 1888.

Close to St George’s Circus, Blackfriars Circus is a Barratt London mixed-use development of 336 studios, one-, two- and three-bedroom flats and penthouses, offices and shops in a series of five buildings arranged around two new public squares between Blackfriars Road and Borough Road. The architects are MaccreanorLavington and prices range between £600,000 and £975,000. Call 020 3285 6655.

The Music Box in Union Street is a Taylor Wimpey development of 41 one-, two- and three-bedroom flats above the new home for the London Centre of Contemporary Music; prices of the flats range from £737,500 to £2,435,000. Through JLL (020 3772 7725) and Stirling Ackroyd (020 3857 3768).

Coin Street Community Builders, the group that campaigned to save the area from overdevelopment in the Eighties, and which redeveloped Oxo Tower Wharf for small creative business units and built new co-operative housing, still has no date for starting work on its Doon Street site behind the Royal Festival Hall. Controversially, the plan is to build a tower block with 300 new homes, none of which will be affordable, in order to finance a new swimming pool. There will also be a new base for Ballet Rambert.

Postcode: Bankside and the South Bank are all in the SE1 postcode.

Best roads: anywhere overlooking the river or with a view.

Up and coming: the best place to look for value for money is in the hinterland away from the river — there are many estates of social housing where “right-to-buy” flats are available.

Schools: all the local state primary schools are judged “good” or better by Ofsted. Those judged “outstanding” are: Charles Dickens in Toulmin Street; Archbishop Sumner CofE in Reedworth Street; the Cathedral School of St Saviour and St Mary Overy CofE in Redcross Way, and Crampton in Iliffe Street.

The following comprehensive schools are judged “outstanding”: Notre Dame RC (girls, ages 11 to 16) in St George’s Road, and St Saviour’s and St Olave’s CofE (girls, ages 11 to 18) in New Kent Road. The following are judged to be “good”: London Nautical (boys, ages 11 to 18) in Stamford Street and Ark Globe (co-ed, ages three to 18) in Harper Road.

There are two new state-funded Free Schools: Oasis Academy (co-ed, ages 11 to 16) in Westminster Bridge Road which opened in September 2013 and is judged to be “outstanding”, and King’s College London Mathematics School (co-ed, ages 16 to 18) in Kennington Road where pupils take A-levels in maths, further maths and physics.

The London Christian School (co-ed, ages three to 11) is a private Christian School in Tabard Street.

Other nearest private schools are all north of the river; they are: Westminster Abbey Choir School (boys, ages eight to 13) in Dean’s Yard; Westminster School (boys, ages 13 to 18) in Little Smith Street and City of London (boys, ages 10 to 18) in Queen Victoria Street.

Shops and restaurants: there are shops, cafés and restaurants along the riverside walk and along Southwark Street, Stamford Street, The Cut and Lower Marsh. Highlights are Borough Market with stand-out shops Neal’s Yard Dairy for British cheese and Monmouth Coffee. Roast and fish! are two restaurants that take advantage of the industrial market architecture. There are two historic pubs nearby, the George off Borough High Street and the Anchor with its riverside terrace. In this stretch of the riverside walk there has been an invasion of chain restaurants including Bill’s, Nando’s, Wagamama, Zizzi, Eat and PizzaExpress. Swan is an attractive all-day pub and restaurant serving modern British food attached to Shakespeare’s Globe theatre.

In recent years development around Tate Modern has brought new shops and restaurants, notably Sir Terence Conran’s Albion and Mark Hix’s Hixter; there is also a branch of Japanese ramen restaurant Tonkotsu, and The Table all-day café and restaurant attached to architects Allies & Morrison.

Better Bankside is the local Business Improvement District; if you live or work in the area you can get a Buzz card which entitles you to discounts at many local shops and restaurants. For example there is 20 per cent off the à la carte menu at Hixter between 11.30am and 7pm.

There are interesting small independent shops featuring local craftspeople at Oxo Tower Wharf and Gabriel’s Wharf. The landmark Sea Containers House has now been converted into the five-star Mondrian London Hotel with its restaurant designed by Tom Dixon.

There is another cluster of chain restaurants – Giraffe, Yo! Sushi, Strada, Wagamama again and Las Iguanas. Lifting the tone is Skylon restaurant, grill and bar in the Royal Festival Hall, part of the D&D group. The Archduke is a long-standing wine bar in a railway arch which is still going strong.

Open space: the riverside walk from London Bridge to Westminster Bridge is one of the capital’s finest promenades. There are little parks along the way such as Bernie Spain Gardens next to Oxo Tower Wharf, and also Jubilee Gardens next to the London Eye which has a new children’s playground.

Leisure and the arts: the South Bank has the largest concentration of cultural venues in London. Tate Modern with over five million visitors a year opens its new extension designed by Herzog & de Meuron on June 17. Last year Shakespeare’s Globe opened its candlelit theatre, the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse. The National Theatre has reopened the Cottesloe as the Dorfman Theatre and opened a new riverside café and bar called The Kitchen and The Understudy. This is not to forget the part played in the capital’s cultural life of the Hayward Gallery, the former National Film Theatre, now BFI Southbank, and the Royal Festival Hall.

Councils: Southwark is Labour controlled, and Band D council tax for 2016/2017 is £1,206.38; Lambeth is also Labour controlled and Band D council tax for 2016/2017 is £1,257.35.

Buying: One-bedroom flat £698,000, two-bedroom flat £1.04 million, two-bedroom house £1.53 million, three-bedroom house £1.83 million, four-bedroom house £2.05 million

Renting: One-bedroom flat £2,019 a month, two-bedroom flat £2,621 a month, two-bedroom house £2,912 a month, three-bedroom house £3,592 a month, four-bedroom house £4,395 a month


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