Plans have been submitted for a huge new office and retail development by Canada Water dock in Rotherhithe.
Canada Water Dockside would be the “front gate” to the raft of new developments in the area, most prominently British Land’s Canada Water masterplan, according to the plans.
Canada Water Dockside, which would be built by German developers Art-Invest Real Estate, would see 24-storey and ten-storey buildings put up directly to the east of the dock, with a thirteen-storey building behind them.
Art-Invest are betting on a wide scale return to offices in London as the Covid-19 pandemic recedes. They say that the best offices will be flexible destinations where people can work with others and also have opportunities to relax and take part in leisure activities in the immediate area in their spare time.
A marketing document submitted as part of the application argues: “The very best office space, being designed now with the strategic hindsight of… Covid-19… is already performing more strongly due to a heightened demand for a more concentrated in-work experience predominantly for reasons of health, wellbeing, culture and collaboration.
“It is therefore unlikely that the use of offices that fulfil these occupier trends will materially diminish but rather its use will continually evolve in line with societal and business trends.”
Whether employers themselves welcome or encourage this kind of behaviour remains to be seen. The marketing document says: “Canada Water is capable of really satisfying the human-centric requirements that occupiers demand for their employees.”
But the developers know that office life will not go back entirely to normal for many people. The company’s development director Luka Vukotic told the News in June: “It feels like we have seen a paradigm shift in office working where we’re used to coming to an office and sitting at a desk – but actually the future is going to look very different. And a lot of the offices that are only equipped to deal with day to day sitting at your desk will become something that people don’t want any more.”
The shops to be included as part of the development would be independent “where possible”. “These might include for example a local baker, green-grocer, deli shop or hair-dresser for use by locals and workers alike,” the planning application continues. Also included would be a community centre for use by local community groups, and a health centre that could host a GP practice.
Art-Invest would also run a community wellbeing fund for the area with their neighbours the sports shop Decathlon. The fund, which would be given “tens of thousands of pounds every year for the next five years”, would sponsor sports and wellbeing initiatives in the area, although details are sparse at the moment.
Art-Invest bought the land in 2020 and have consulted with locals for months. Rotherhithe residents canvassed by the News earlier this year were positive about the proposals.
Ali Abbas, who leads Art-Invest’s UK business, said: “We are delighted to have submitted these exciting plans for Canada Water Dockside, following what has been a monumental effort from the local community, the London Borough of Southwark, and the project team to reach this stage.
“We are very excited to be one-step-closer to being able to deliver on our vision that has been so well received by communities throughout the consultation for Canada Water Dockside. I would like to thank all of those residents and businesses who have participated in the process to date. They have given us the confidence to realise this scheme and ultimately have helped shape the exciting application that has been submitted.”
To view and comment on the planning application click here.