Things are turning East in London

7 March 2017

 

Neil Robinson Speaking

A Q&A with Asian Business Port’s Neil Robinson about the changing face of East London

Neil is a local resident of East London’s Royal Docks and the Director of Communications at Asian Business Port (ABP) – positioned to be the city’s third business district after the City and Canary Wharf. He shares more about the massive regeneration currently happening in the area, his personal experience of living there and why East London is the area where people now want to be.

Why is East London an exciting opportunity for investors?

London is a successful global city but it suffers from a desperate shortage of residential property. In order for property to keep pace with demand and growth, London needs to build 62,000 homes every year for the next ten years, and the best it is likely to be able to do is half of that . This, combined with the city’s increasing population, which is expected to grow by 17% over the next 20 years, shows that the property shortage will only increase. Investors have to think ahead and ask, where can London grow? It has nowhere to grow except to the East where current occupancy is 90%. The business heart of London is moving even further eastwards and the Docklands is an area that will rapidly develop.

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Can you give us a picture of what is currently happening in East London?

A cluster of growth is taking place and it is where most of the city’s biggest regeneration projects are underway, of which ABP is a large part. The area is already well-connected with three DLR stations around the site and the arrival of Crossrail next year will be a game changer. Further east and you’ll find Royal Victoria Dock and Royal Albert Dock that are up and coming neighbourhoods. London City Airport is also here with regular flights to more than 40 European cities. An airport that prides itself on speed, you can be on a plane within 15 minutes from your arrival at the airport, fly to Paris for lunch within an hour and be back home for dinner. London City Airport has recently been given planning permission to expand and by 2020-2021 it will be running flights to Moscow and Dubai and Mumbai.

What is it like to live in Royal Victoria Dock? 

In the two years I have lived here, Royal Victoria Dock has changed tremendously, but still retains its unique character. We’ve now got a floating hotel, a monthly comedy night and there’s a super yacht near the ExCeL with a cinema on board that’s good for champagne cocktails. It’s a fun place to live, particularly in the summer when you can jet ski, waterski and swim in the dock. There are a lot of happenings and the area has a good buzz.

Can you tell us more about the Asian Business Port project?

ABP is a Chinese company and was one of 12 bidders for the site. Marketed towards Asian companies that we want to encourage to set up here, the area will be a future trading zone. Asian Business Port will consist largely of offices, with some retail, dining, leisure and a small amount of residential that will follow in later stages. We will see the first phase completed by the end of 2018, the second phase by 2022, and the final phase within ten years by 2026. When we are finished it will be the business district for London that truly makes it the world’s greatest global city. It will also show that the business heart of London is moving east.

What does ABP mean for East London’s property market?

There will surely be regeneration uplift. In those areas of London that have been regenerated in recent times, property values have increased by up to 4.7% above the market rate. A study on Crossrail’s impact on property values also showed 30% projected house price growth in the area surrounding the Custom House station. If you put those two together we can anticipate double digit growth in property values. ABP will generate GBP6 billion income for London’s economy and employ 30,000 people. It seems to me that if you have thousands of people working and wanting to live locally and there isn’t enough supply, the value of properties is only going to go one way.

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Are there any concerns for investors?

Investors may be concerned about supply. There are a lot of properties planned, but I would say that it’s just not enough. There’s half as many as we need and no real way of unlocking that for the future. Many ask about the noise from the airport too, but what you will usually find in airports is that most of the generated noise is not actually where the planes take off and land, but is a bit further away. I live and work in Royal Victoria Dock – and honestly don’t notice any noise from planes.

Are there parallels between the Canary Wharf/Docklands project and do you see East London experiencing similar success? 

It’s a unique project – there is nothing else like it in London. But I think that there’s something about water that attracts people to an area. If you are a business choosing to locate somewhere you will want an area that has something special about it. You’ll look for leisure amenities, places to eat and drink on the waterside, places that are easy to get to and where people want to work – this will attract the best talent. I think that all of the ingredients are there for a very successful business district.

East London has been on the cards for a while – is it too late to invest there? 

I think the parts of London that have reached their peak are the city centre and the West End, which are very highly priced so your margin of profit is low and investment growth is going to be slower. East London is, as former Prime Minister David Cameron said, the arc of opportunity. This is where things now are going to happen. Is it too late? No, but you’ve got to act quickly as very soon we will be moving further out East to Barking and Dagenham and beyond.

Neil Robinson is Director of Communications at Asian Business Port


For a more in-depth look at East London’s investment case read our Market Update.

Our luxury development Royal Victoria Residence is located in The Royal Docks, just minutes away from the future Custom House Crossrail station. Find out more here.

IP Global

Written by IP Global

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