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Third Building Glut Ramps Up In Docklands

With the clearance of the site of 22 Marsh Wall in London's Docklands, hot on the heels of a similar demolition at the former London Arena and the construction of a raft of new high-rise projects in the area Docklands is now starting its third major stage of development.

22 Marsh Wall is a series of four buildings designed by Squire and Partners including two landmark residential towers of 136.5 metres and 94.9 metres sitting on the western edge of the Millennium Quarter consisting of 700 new apartments described by the architects as "elegant" and an attempt at designing "a southern gateway".

With the success of the under construction Pan Peninsula towers where the taller tower is almost sold out and the shorter tower has also had the majority of units also sell in it in record time, the area has become hugely desirable for developers out to tap the insatiable housing market.

These two taken alongside the 22 Marsh Wall development, and the clearing of the site for the 135 metre tall Crossharbour Tower at London Arena that cannot too far from the starting block, plus a whole raft of shorter blocks such as Ability Place and 3 Limeharbour are the third major phase of construction in the area and the first that really breaks out from the shadow of Canary Wharf.

Development started in 1987 dominated by the tower at One Canada Square and buildings at Cabot Square with only a few buildings off the Canary Wharf estate at Harbour Exchange and South Quay Plaza. This was cut to an abrupt end by the recession of the late 80s with cash for the construction of One Canada Square almost running out and Docklands faced with the spectre of having the tower unbuilt.

The second round came in the late 90s and was almost entirely Canary Wharf driven as six skyscrapers and numerous mid-rises went up on the estate. Significantly there was also the residential tower at 1 West India Quay marking the first truly major residential building in an area completely dominated by office use and a sign of things to come.

Since those heady days of the turn of the century, the office market has fallen back in the area and there isn't the demand for six office skyscrapers to be built at once thanks to oversupply and competition this time around from other parts of London. This past huge stream of offices that have come online have however had one major spin off that is causing this new glut of construction - a massive influx of professionals with large disposable incomes need places to live.

Plots like 22 Marsh Wall and 1 Millharbour where the Pan Peninsula Towers are being built sum up this change in emphasis of use of buildings perfectly because both sites originally had office towers proposed for them.

Four hundred place towers to the immediate south of Canary Wharf should have a massive effect on the area and that's without counting the immediate overspill into Poplar and east towards the Royal Docks from the core nucleus of late 80s buildings.

It may not be the trickle down effect that Thatcherites had boasted would happen, Blackwall is still the 81st most deprived council ward in the U.K despite the vast wealth generated there, but it shows the transformative effect that this kind of development can have and how the demand for tall buildings in this country is maturing past post-modern office blocks into high-rise living on a mass scale.

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