Waking up to the all too proximal, sound of pneumatic drills; I wonder how they are finding more space to build on this already crowded island. I see another Manhatten in the midst.
I can hear the humdrum, but I can’t see it happening. I’m far enough away that the incessant noise isn’t quite on my doorstep, but it’s there, in the distance. I realise I can see the workers reflected in one of the windows of the building opposite me, I can watch the beast rise.
Ours is one of the older blocks, once filled with natural light before they built the block opposite. Now we get an hour or so of sunlight in the early morning, usually whilst we’re still asleep.
Couple this with the rise of people in both residents and visitors, and the lack of green space, I can’t help wonder why we pay such fortunes to live like this.
I see the people coming in and out of the tube station like lemmings morning and night, very few who work here choose to live here. I whiff the smells of rubbish as I walk around the South Quay area, just over the bridge from the upmarket Canary Wharf, where the streets are spit-polished clean.
Once an old dock, development started here in the 1980’s and has been exponential ever since. Even coming to live here from Newcastle eight years ago, I see the changes that have occurred on the island.
Fifteen more tower blocks are due over the next few years; it’s growing like it’s on steroids – the need to be big, but with what seems like little thought of the after effects of such rapid growth.
The Isle of Dogs was traditionally the town of the bankers, but the plan is to build on one of the only pieces of beautiful green space in the Wharf – its prime real estate – in an effort to bring some of the creative industries to the area. I’m not yet sure how they will create suitable infrastructure to cater for creative types; now it’s designer or high street, non of the quirkiness of the East End.
Despite the unparalleled growth of the area and the effects this has on residents, I can see why those that can afford the best of the Wharf would want to live here. The views of the river are not to be sniffed at. Sadly, only the elite or those on social housing seem to have the option to live here long term. Rent is phenomenally high, much like the rest of London, and buying here is impossible with a 2 bed flat coming in at around £850,000 in the half decent blocks. But, it is the playground of the rich. I guess somewhere has to be.
Tourists tend not to visit this part of town, due to its distance from central London and the perceived lack of things to see and do here, but there is so much to see and do – it’s just about finding it.
Large TVs are often erected so that people can watch major sports events such as Wimbledon, the World Cup or the Olympics. Wood Wharf (sadly, one of the areas they are planning to build on soon) hosts events such as a weekly food market, ice sculpting and beach volleyball, and houses a lovely spot for sun worshipers in the summer months. There are hundreds of shops, plenty of bars and numerous restaurants, although chain places are the order of the day. It is also incredibly easy to get here, and the travel infrastructure around the island is pretty good.
People often use the word ‘soulless’ to describe the Wharf and at one time I agreed, but not anymore. There is so much soul here, from the old East Londoners to the fresh young financial minds of the future, it just depends on what makes up your soul…