Canary Wharf was once seen as the future of London - now it’s the location that’s seen the greatest loss in the housing market with fears that its rental sector will drop too.
Prices in the E14 postcode, dominated by Canary Wharf, have dropped 17 per cent in the past year according to a survey by London agency Benham and Reeves.
The reasons are Brexit and pandemic-related. International investment in the area has reduced in recent years and hybrid working, continuing with a vengeance even a year after the Covid pandemic was considered at an end, has sharply reduced the need to live close to the offices which dominate the area.
Now HSBC is to vacate its 45-storey global headquarters after 20 years, taking its 8,000 staff - many of which now share their working hours at their homes as well as in the office - to smaller premises in the City of London.
Marc von Grundherr, director of Benham and Reeves, says: “Canary Wharf has been the worst hit in this respect and with HSBC making the decision to relocate to the city, we expect demand from working professionals to fall further. House prices in Whitechapel’s E1 postcode have also trailed the wider borough of Tower Hamlets but, of course, the flip-side to this underperformance is that it presents buyers and investors with a great opportunity to purchase.”
How many people need to rent in the area is a moot point, however.
Canary Wharf is renowned for its connectivity thanks to access to the Docklands Light Railway and the Jubilee line, and now the Elizabeth Line too, but hybrid working means people use this glut of transport routes to get out as much as to get in.
Transport for London has told the Financial Times that public transport footfall in the area on Mondays and Fridays is only about half pre-pandemic levels, and 70 per cent on Tuesdays to Thursdays.
Canary Wharf’s owners - the Qatari government and the Canadian investment giant Brookfield - are now hoping to pivot the area’s jobs and image from financial services to life sciences, the creative industries and student accommodation.