Boom time for Bankside: £1bn investment will transform River Thames between Tate Modern and South Bank with new homes and businesses

Bankside’s new urban landscape is coming together with Bankside Yards, a £1 billion scheme to bridge the gap between South Bank and the Tate Modern with hundreds of new homes, shops and restaurants.

After more than its fair share of false dawns and delays, the district that has for decades played ugly sister to the South Bank’s Cinderella is finally coming into its own. 

Right now the South Bank buzz comes to an abrupt halt at Blackfriars Bridge, where the Thames Path ends in a gloomy underpass.

But that is about to change, because work has finally started on Bankside Yards. Its first phase, Western Yards, includes a landmark 49-storey tower with 240 homes and an office building.

A row of 14 existing railway arches will be renovated and filled with new shops and restaurants by 2022.

The second phase of developer Native Land’s project will add more homes, a smart hotel and new open space.

A stairway to the riverfront will make it possible to walk along the Thames all the way from the London Eye to the Tate Modern and beyond.

The scheme has not been without its difficulties and controversies, before a spade even hit the ground.

Planning permission was granted back in 2014, but the downturn in London’s top-end market and the chaos caused by Brexit put the project on hold for five years.

Bankside Yards has also come under fire from the gay community after nightclub XXL was given notice to quit its base just off Southwark Street to make way for the development.

London has lost almost 60 per cent of its LGBTQ+ venues since 2006, and Southwark council and the Greater London Authority have expressed concern.

None of the 600 new homes planned for the five-acre site is “affordable” — ie, subsidised for low- and middle-income buyers and renters.

The developer will, however, make a £65 million contribution to Southwark council to fund lower-cost housing elsewhere in the borough.

One Blackfriars flats: £10m-£15m

While work on Bankside Yards is in its infancy the final touches are being put to the other landmark project changing the Bankside skyline — One Blackfriars, a 50-storey tower just south of Blackfriars Bridge. 

This has been an epic, stop-start project first mooted as a 68-storey building in 2006. After many objections, several redesigns, height reductions and a change in ownership, work began in 2013 on the tower, which contains 274 flats, a boutique hotel and a viewing lounge which the public must pay to access.

The first residents moved in this summer and the building will be fully complete by next spring.

According to a spokesman, 95 per cent of the flats have been sold. Prices for the dozen or so left are by application.

Three-bedroom flats cost a breathtaking £10 million to £15 million (berkeleygroup.co.uk).

Southbank Tower: £20m penthouses sold out

The other big Bankside player is the 41-storey Southbank Tower, a reboot of a 30-storey Seventies office building on Stamford Street that has been extended by 11 floors and repurposed as apartments. 

The building — including a trio of £20 million penthouses — is all sold out, but there are resale apartments available and Savills is selling a 590sq ft one-bedroom flat for £999,999 and a 2,368sq ft three-bedroom home for £6.1 million. Visit savills.com for details.

Even Brexit hasn’t halted the Bankside bandwagon. Earlier this year James Hyman, head of residential at Cluttons, sold all 14 apartments in a boutique development on Southwark Street, to an overseas investor who selected SE1 over prime central London.

Hyman believes part of the area’s allure is its favourable price comparison with the rest of central London. Prices stand at an average of £1,200 per square foot.

Across the river, in Covent Garden, property costs £1,900 per square foot. “And when you think about it the appeal of these two areas is quite similar,” he adds.

With some the capital’s greatest arts venues on one side and the newly reinvigorated London Bridge on the other, plus Bermondsey and Borough Market within a short walk, Bankside is certainly well located.

At the same time as the arrival of high-end high-rise towers, the former no-man’s land between the Southbank and Tate Modern is also filling up with bars, restaurants and attractions of its own, and is a lot less tourist-packed than many other parts of central London.

Gordon Ramsay’s Union Street Café and Mark Hix’s Hixter restaurants take care of fine dining, the Lord Nelson is a jolly local, there’s a growing cluster of commercial art galleries, including the Jerwood Space, plus the great Menier Chocolate Factory theatre, and just east of the Tate are Borough Market and London Bridge.

Small new-build developments near Bankside

Smaller-scale developments of new homes are flying up thick and fast, too.

In Park Street, just behind the Tate, Triptych Bankside is a mixed scheme of 169 flats in two wavy-fronted buildings of 16 and 18 storeys, designed by Squire and Partners, with an on-site gym, cinema, shops and a garden.

The homes are due to be completed in early 2021, and cost from £930,000 for one-bedroom flats, and £1.53 million for two-bedroom flats (savills.com).

Buyers who prefer their architecture a bit more traditional could opt for a flat at the former Southwark Fire Station, closed in 2014 and sold last year.

The site is being redeveloped with 164 flats, a new secondary school and a sports centre. Prices at Brigade Court start from £699,995 for a one-bedroom flat and £899,995 for a two-bedroom flat.

The homes are expected to be completed in early 2021 (cbreresidential.com).

While work on these sites continues, the final major piece of the Bankside jigsaw will be the former ITV HQ.

The television company moved out of the riverside studio in 2017, pledging to return after a five-year modernisation to include a new 31-storey apartment building. But last year it confirmed that it intends to sell the site instead, for a reported £150 million.

“In the past Bankside was just a slightly industrial location where you’d go for cheap office space,” says Hyman of Cluttons. “Now you can walk to some of the biggest attractions in London, and you’ve got new shops around the Shard. 

“The whole area has really changed, yet it is still relatively affordable. You can still find something for £900 per square foot, or you can pay £2,000 per square foot — but that would be for what will be an iconic development in a landmark location.”



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