Why the Isle of Dogs is now 'best place to live' in whole of London
PUBLISHED: 07:00 12 April 2019 | UPDATED: 13:38 12 April 2019
The "best place to live in London" has been named as the Isle of Dogs in a national Sunday paper.
It tops nine other most sort-after locations including Belgravia, according to a Sunday Times panel of judges.
The findings being published this weekend take in factors for living the good life like jobs, schools, broadband speed, local shopping and public transport.
But the Isle of Dogs also has unrivalled views, surrounded on three sides by the loop in the Thames, and beats Battersea into second place and surprisingly Belgravia in third.
It also has Europe’s biggest city farm, the 32-acre Mudchute, contrasting the skyscrapers, which was shortlisted in 2017 as one of Britain’s “most popular farm parks” by a holiday lettings website. The farm is home to 100 animals and fowl and regularly visited by large flocks of humans.
Its southern tip waterfront is also where the 17th century Italian master Canaletto sat to paint his famous canvas of the Royal Greenwich Palace on the opposite bank.
But above all is the thriving East End community spirit—though more likely bourn out of the dust from all the major development going on.
One business executive attracted to the area was Richard Horwood, who moved into an apartment 42 storeys up in a Canary Wharf skyscraper with a view to die for.
“It’s a fantastic place to live, apart all the construction going on,” Richard tells the East London Advertiser.
“But you can’t beat the view—I can see Greenwich Royal Palace, the Cutty Sark, the Thames Barrier, the whole curve in the river, the Millennium Dome and most City skyscrapers like the Gherkin, Cheesegrater, Walkie Talkie and the BT tower. St Paul’s Cathedral, however, is hidden by another building from this angle.”
He moved in seven years ago from posh Hampstead Village as the skyscraper developments were going into overdrive, which drew him to community action.
Richard set up a residents’ association to represent 750 skyscraper households, before founding the Isle of Dogs Neighbourhood Forum now battling to check uncontrolled construction going ahead without planning the infrastructure.
“Planning issues affecting our lives is what strengthens community spirit here,” he adds. “So many people want to live here that we have to keep the infrastructure tight.”
The Isle of Dogs has the fastest population growth rate anywhere in the EU, with its current 40,000 population set to reach 100,000 in the next 10 years. One street alone, Marsh Wall, where 4,000 people live, is set to house 40,000 in the next decade.
It can be a headache for Tower Hamlets Council planning ahead for things like schools and doctors’ surgeries, above all trying to keep that East End community spirit alive.
John Biggs, the mayor, agrees ‘the Island’ is a “fantastic place to live” with its transport links, but warns: “The massive scale of development bringing a sense of change risks some people in the old Dockland community getting left behind. I’d like to see at least 20 per cent investment in public housing, rather than all private which most East Enders can’t afford.”
This “unheralded corner of Docklands” took first place in the Sunday Times panel’s list partly because of its 15 minute DLR link to the City, the Underground Jubilee line and Crossrail opening later this year, being a short walk to Canary Wharf. Other factors were clean air—fortunately the Isle of Dogs just misses the traffic pollution at the Blackwall Tunnel Approach and along the congested A13.
But for Richard Horwood, planning issues aside, it’s the panoramic view of the London skyline from his 42nd floor balcony that does it for him.