London’s most spectacular rooftop gardens: yoga decks, dog runs, allotments and some of the capital’s best views top these new high rise homes
A single square foot of London living space costs about the same as a one-carat diamond, so every corner needs to be treated like the precious commodity it is.
No wonder developers are looking upwards, making the most of rooftops with ambitious communal gardens featuring everything from yoga decks to allotments.
When Battersea Roof Gardens, one of the new buildings flanking the power station, completes in 2021, it will have a linear park designed by the team behind New York’s High Line, with BBQ areas, party spaces and facilities for growing food and for yoga.
Prices start at £510,000 for a studio, £885,000 for a one-bedroom flat, and £1,196,000 for a two-bedroom flat.
From £375,000: flats at Brunel Street Works in Canning Town, with river and City views from seven zoned overhead gardens
New homes with roof gardens in east London
On the other side of London, £3.7 billion is being spent on new homes and facilities at Canning Town. Homes have just gone on sale at Brunel Street Works.
This development will eventually bring 1,000 flats with seven overhead gardens, in five interlinked blocks, to land beside Canning Town station.
Next year, when residents move in, they will have seven zoned areas for play and for seating, with views of the Thames, the O2 Centre and the skyline of the City and Canary Wharf.
Prices start at £375,000 for a one-bedroom flat, £460,000 for a two-bedroom flat, and London Help to Buy is available, cutting minimum deposit requirements down to five per cent.
London’s highest roof gardens will be 784ft above ground at Landmark Pinnacle, being built at Canary Wharf.
To ensure nobody takes a tumble, the gardens will be surrounded by double-height glass panels and topped by a perforated roof which will be illuminated at night.
There is also an indoor children’s garden on the 27th floor with pathways and play spaces.
Prices start at £597,000 for a one-bedroom flat and £603,000 for a two-bedroom flat. The tower will be completed next year.
At Grand Union, in Alperton, north-west London, there is a podium garden of 10,800sq ft on the roof of the lower buildings. It has a prime position overlooking the canal that runs by the site and the new waterside walkway and square which will be lined with restaurants and cafés.
Many of the flats overlook the garden, giving a sense of urban oasis. The homes will be completed in 2022 and prices start from £445,000 for a one-bedroom flat and £540,000 for a two-bedroom flat.
For an almost bucolic feel — in Hackney — The Otto is a small scheme of 89 flats beside Hackney Downs.
From its roof terrace, which has been designed to blend the boundary with the open space, residents can overlook 40 acres with the City and Canary Wharf skyline beyond.
The Otto, in Hackney Downs, a scheme of 89 flats overlooking the City and Canary Wharf
The terrace also features two pavilions for bad weather, timber seating, and a children’s play area.
Prices start at £490,000 for a one-bedroom flat.
Prime London skyline views
The view from the Belvedere Gardens roof terrace at Southbank Place is hard to top.
There are only 19 flats left, priced from £2.25 million for a two-bedroom home.
Future residents will have access to the roof terrace and from there enjoy astonishing vistas of Jubilee Gardens, the Thames, and Parliament — the perfect spot to enjoy London’s fireworks displays.
Roof gardens for renters
Ferrum in Wembley Park, a “build to rent” scheme opened in September, has a rooftop garden with 360-degree views, plus a series of podium gardens kitted out with barbecues, lawn games and seating areas, as well as a dog run for residents with pets.
Rents start at £1,800 a month for a one-bedroom flat, and £2,300 for a two-bedroom flat.
‘Roof space now has fresh significance’
High design: 1 Ashley Road roof gardens in Tottenham Hale will be designed by Chelsea Flower Show award winner Andy Sturgeon
Tottenham Hale is getting the regeneration treatment from the team behind new King’s Cross. Its first new homes, 1 Ashley Road, will have two roof gardens designed by Chelsea Flower Show multi award-winning Andy Sturgeon.
“Roof space has taken on a new significance,” says Sturgeon. “It is no longer leftover space with ugly air-conditioning units. Now it is planned into the overall design. People value greenery more and the roof is valuable and important outside space.”
But it is not easy to handle these above-ground gardens.
“It is a very hostile environment,” explains Sturgeon. “You have got areas of sun, and it is windy and that is very drying, so they always have to have automatic irrigation.”
Coastal, Mediterranean and Australasian plants tend to thrive in such conditions.
Another issue to overcome is that roof gardens often have very shallow soil, as there is only so much earth the building’s structure can support.
“That means you often struggle to get any height,” says Sturgeon.
He uses olive trees in pots as a solution, plus tough, slow-growing plants that do not need endless pruning.
At 1 Ashley Road, Sturgeon and his team have gone for a “rocky Steppe” style on the 6,000sq ft of rooftop gardens, with seating areas surrounded by Japanese hakonechloa ornamental grass, hellebores for winter colour, and the rich blue of the shade-loving liriope muscari.
For sunny spots there’s hebe rakaiensis, with evergreen leaves and small white flowers; miscanthus sinensis kleine fontane, a silvery ornamental grass, and delicate yellow blooms of mahonia soft caress.
Prices at 1 Ashley Road, which completes in 2022, start at £365,000 for a one-bedroom flat and £545,000 for a two-bedroom property.