Often described as London’s “forgotten highway”, the Thames River is set to become a vital transport artery serving up to 100,000 homes under a new initiative.
Transport for London and Mayor Boris Johnson has revealed plans for river bus routes and marinas which will see passenger numbers rise from six million to twelve million by 2020. The new waterfront neighbourhoods and office districts will make it much easier for people to travel to work.
The river will become not only a primary transport link but also extensive leisure and recreation destination with new promenades, pontoons, performance spaces, pleasure boat moorings, floating restaurants and nature retreats, such as the Garden Bridge between Strand and the South bank.
The first place to benefit from the regeneration will be Plantation Wharf in Battersea. The new pier opens next month, coinciding with the launch of a brand new fleet of fuel-efficient catamarans, boosting capacity on the commute between Putney to Blackfriars.
City hall planners are keen to avoid recreating the sterile neighbourhoods with no shops or facilities that typified the first wave of the Docklands regeneration 30 years ago. Thoughtful planning and architecture will help to make the riverbank a more pleasant place. Stunning glass-clad apartments have large terraces and winter gardens for year-round living, allowing residents to enjoy the sweeping vistas across the river.
Candice Matthews, director of property consultant DTZ, says: “Demand for what might be called ‘property-upon-Thames’ has never been so high.”
While Thames living offers a host of benefits, it also comes with a premium price tag. Apartments within 100 yards or so of the Thames typically cost about 21% more than similarly sized homes in the vicinity.
Better river transport is an extra incentive to buy a home at a waterfront development. There are currently two main river bus routes along the central Thames; Putney to Blackfriars via Chelsea Harbour, and from the London Eye to Woolwich via Canary Wharf.
The leading commuter operator for the Thames is MBNA Thames Clippers which launched in 1999 with an average of 87 passengers per day using the service. Fast forward to 2018, and there are now more than 10,000 passengers per day – nearly four million in a year.
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