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Canary Wharf: How Jon Hala London delivers technical cuts for short styles

Senior art director Ellie Reilly talks trends and quality as men opt for longer hair and women experiment with shorter locks for 2024

Jon Hala London’s senior art director Ellie Reilly

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Ellie Reilly knows hair.

Trained at Vidal Sassoon, she comes from a family of hairdressers and has spent more than a decade honing her skills.

When Jon Hala opened his salon in Canary Wharf’s Jubilee Place, she was a natural choice for his team and currently works for the business as a senior art director.   

“Initially I fell into the industry,” she said.

“I originally thought I didn’t want to follow everyone else in my family into it, but as soon as I tried it, that was me done. 

“I’m a hairdresser and I absolutely love it.

“My nan had a salon in east London and I’ve got aunts and uncles who all followed in the family tradition.”

Ellie specialises in cutting hair, which makes her the ideal person to talk about shorter styles, which are becoming increasingly popular among her female clients, just as men experiment with slightly longer locks. 

“To do my job, you need good fundamental training, lots of practice and to have a passion for it,” said Ellie.

“It’s as much about dealing with people as it is their hair, having that confidence to know what will suit the shape of someone’s face.

“Men, especially, look for guidance – they like someone to tell them what complements their face shape, the texture of their hair and their lifestyle.

“At Jon Hala London I cut a lot of men’s hair and I’m happy to be direct if that’s what the client wants – I can tell them what is going to work and why.

“It’s why I’ve built up a lot of loyal clients who come back again and again.

“One thing is you don’t necessarily want to follow the trends – do a short back and sides or get the clippers out and shave everything off.

Jon Hala London is located in Canary Wharf’s Jubilee Place

“Men often want something that’s easy to care for and style, that suits them and doesn’t need a lot doing to it. 

“At the salon, customers will find great people who have been in the industry for a long time, so they know how to cut hair to suit an individual.

“We go deeper than simply looking at clients, we explore their lifestyle, job and how that relates to their hair.

“It’s tailored haircuts for individuals.

“Everyone is different and everyone has different hair. Our training actually starts with bone structure so you can understand why a person’s hair does what it does.”

Ellie said the effect of the various lockdowns had left men open to experimenting with different styles, having (in some cases) seen their hair grow out for the first time in years.

“Some of them discovered they had looks they’d never really seen before, like amazing curls,” she said. 

“Many more of my clients are trying longer hair or mid-length styles rather than opting for that close-clipped look. 

“Lockdown did good things for male hair, it allowed people to see what they had naturally.

“Some might be a bit daunted to walk into somewhere like Jon Hala, but I’d encourage them to just come and have a chat. 

“If you don’t know what you want or you’re looking for a change, book a consultation and we can give you that advice.”

The technical expertise that Ellie has accrued over the years is equally applicable to women’s hair, an area that post-pandemic has seen an almost reciprocal effect.

With many having gone long over the previous couple of years, a fashion for shorter styles is emerging.

“For a while no-one was really cutting their hair,” said Ellie.

“So now people have become bored with that and have decided to try new things. There are lots of bobs and pixie cuts already this year.

“It’s the same with men and women. The important thing about these styles is they have to suit the individual’s face.

Men are currently experimenting with longer styles

“Men tend to have squarer faces so the hair needs to reflect those shapes.

“Women are often more rounded, so you want a style that’s softer or more feminine. 

“The one thing I would say when it comes to short hair is the better the haircut, the longer it will last. 

“At Jon Hala, we cut the hair so that it will keep its shape as it grows out.

“That means it can last three, four or even five months.

“It’s about knowing the tricks and techniques.

“For example, with male clients I might take a little more off the back and sides because I know they will grow out more quickly than the hair on top. 

“That’s the difference when you come to a salon like this – you’re getting a tailored, high quality, technical cut.”

In addition to the cut, appointments at Jon Hala include advice and tips on caring for and styling a client’s hair. 

“We have a wide variety of products and I’ll always go through what I’m using with a client and why,” said Ellie. 

“We can always suggest what will work well for people and offer advice on what they’re already using.

“Everyone at the salon is trained, so when someone comes here they can tap into all of that expertise. 

Women are exploring shorter, more technical styles

“When a client comes to see me, I want them to feel comfortable, special and like they’re the only person in the salon.

“It’s both that experience and the quality of the haircut that we focus on.

“We want people to leave thinking that they will tell their friends and relatives about their visit so they can come and see us too.

“I’ve been so pleasantly surprised by Canary Wharf.

“From an outsider’s point of view, I think people associate it with business and offices.

“While I grew up in east London as a kid and then moved out, I’d had no experience of working here before Jon, who I’ve known forever, asked me to join his team.

“It’s not what I expected at all. I’ve worked all over London including salons in Mayfair, but this really is people-wise the nicest area I’ve ever experienced.

“I have the loveliest clients, really interesting people, and it’s a very mixed area.

“We have clients of all ages coming to the salon and you end up befriending lots of people.”

need to know

Jon Hala London is located in Canary Wharf’s Jubilee Place. Ladies cut and blow-dry starts at £75, while men’s start at £50.

The salon offers a comprehensive range of hair and beauty treatments and is open for appointments from Monday to Saturday.

Find out more about Jon Hala London here

Read more: Why MadeFor office space in Canary Wharf is a vital part of its offering

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- Jon Massey is co-founder and editorial director of Wharf Life and writes about a wide range of subjects in Canary Wharf, Docklands and east London - contact via jon.massey@wharf-life.com
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Royal Docks: How UEL’s Royal Docks Centre For Sustainability brings people together

Director Robert De Jong and his team aim to drive the green agenda in east London by convening stakeholders at the new facility

Royal Docks Centre For Sustainability director Robert De Jong

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On a dark day, it might be tempting to look at the state of the planet and be discouraged.

Globally we’ve had the warmest February on record, yet ministers seem content to water down green policies. 

Populist politicians and commentators bewail what they see as the madness of abandoning coal and gas.

Others argue that the UK’s emissions are so small in comparison to other parts of the world that there’s no point in making any changes at the supposed expense to our quality of life. 

Early withdrawal symptoms for a culture hopelessly hooked on fossil fuels?

Perhaps. But nevertheless the voices have become a potent lobby. 

The eastern extension to ULEZ hardly raised a peep when it came to Docklands.

But west London was a different story, with opportunistic politicians hijacking a poorly articulated campaign to target the Mayor Of London and, arguably, scrape a by-election win in Uxbridge.

There’s danger here. People like the status quo and yet, ULEZ has seen some pollutants fall by as much as 46% in its first year in central London.

That’s cleaner, fresher air – with around 290,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions prevented from fouling the atmosphere and contributing to the heating of the planet. 

Will this single measure save us? No. Not on its own.

But it’s a measure taken in a major capital city, that’s delivering myriad benefits.

This is a strong recipe for inspiring others.

The RDCS is based at UEL’s Royal Docks campus

It matters what we do here because the ideas and technology necessary to address the massive problems we face, need both places of generation and implementation.

That’s why projects like the University Of East London’s recently launched Royal Docks Centre For Sustainability (RDCS) are vital for the survival of our species.

Part-funded by the Mayor and Newham Council though their Royal Docks Team initiative, the facility provides space for projects, will be open to the community and will soon boast a “vibrant cafe”.

But beyond the, doubtless, sustainable coffee, it has another role.

Its task is to bring people and organisations together to improve sustainability in an area that’s undergoing billions of pounds of regeneration in a borough fighting deprivation.

“If I could have one wish, it would be that this centre has a driving influence on the Royal Docks, that the innovation created here really plays out and makes sure that this community and London itself become exemplars,” said Robert De Jong, RDCS director and the man whose job it is to steer the facility as it evolves and develops.

“We have a regeneration scheme in the docks that is forecast to grow significantly over the coming years and it should be sustainable.

“The centre’s role is as a convener, both for our schools at UEL, our research centres, the local community and industry. 

“Our aim is to bring them all together through effective programming and setting themes for ourselves. 

“I would like to see ambitious goals set for the Royal Docks such as the establishment of a clean-tech cluster so the businesses that come through here are really innovative and set up for the future.

“Also that the plan for urban design – the way the buildings are made and how transport and urban connectivity flow through the docks – is really low carbon.

“There’s a lot of talk about this but, when it comes down to reality, there can be stark differences in what’s delivered to what was mooted. We have a real opportunity here to unleash these ideas and ask what we can do differently.

“How can we engage with the waterways, the transport system and boost biodiversity as well?”

To address some of these questions, RDCS comes fully equipped with some powerful tools and facilities, namely a Sustainability Research Institute, a Sustainable Enterprise Centre, an Augmented + Virtual Reality Centre, a Renewable Energy Lab and a Maker Space.

The Mayor Of London, Sadiq Khan officially opened the centre earlier this year

Then there’s a Data Centre, a Living Lab, a Living Library, a Careers Office, a Hackathon space, Business + Community Tax And Law Clinics and more besides. 

It stands as both a physical connection to UEL’s schools as well as a conceptual one, aimed at spotlighting the work the university does and mixing it with ideas and influences from other organisations and groups.

“We take a holistic view,” said Robert.

“Sustainability means that we’re governing with an ethical outcome for society and the environment, that we’re thinking outside of our own jurisdictions and that we’re also really understanding the stewardship of products and striving to improve how we use resources.

“We can’t just keep creating pollution and heating the globe.

“We need to think about how to manage the whole balance of our ecology. 

“At the moment we’re at a certain rate of growth, so we need to ask if that is sustainable.

“The centre is based on a number of things – firstly collaboration and creation in the holistic sense of sustainability, driving it across east London, around Newham and in Royal Docks in particular.

“In a couple of years’ time, I would like to see this centre established at the forefront of pushing the sustainability agenda – that we’re able to make a measurable impact in terms of social outcomes.

“At UEL we already have great diversity in the student body, among staff and in our policies, but how far can we go?

“That’s not just looking at employment, it’s in the supply chain and it’s driving that wider agenda and our goal of a healthier planet.

“I’d like to see this centre become a catalyst for enabling these things and also to act as a demonstrator.”

Part of the three-storey centre’s mission then, will be to constantly shine spotlights on the work being done in UEL’s schools, while simultaneously supporting and showcasing the work of businesses.

“There is sustainability in each of our schools but it’s hidden away and we’re not always good at shouting about it,” said Robert.

“For example, the Sustainability Research Institute is doing amazing work on bio-based building materials such as Sugarcrete, made from waste products when sugar cane is refined.

“But equally there are fantastic projects in engineering and fashion too.

“Then there’s the wider ethos around our campuses themselves, with a opportunity to embed sustainability in the governance of UEL itself and to ask how we involve every member of staff in that process.

Visitors examine blocks of Sugarcrete, a new material made with waste products from the sugar refining industry

“We’re also about to launch an accelerator programme, starting with a small number of organisations with combined interests.

“We have a focus on fintech and how to develop financial technology and also on entrepreneurship with a faculty looking at how we organise training around creating a business and skills development.

“We can all come up with business ideas but in reality growing a company and overcoming the hurdles of finance and development can take many years.

“However, with the right support and education, firms can really grow successfully.

“We want to create cohorts through these programmes, but we also want to talk with external partners to run some of them, so it’s not just UEL.

“Key to the whole project is that the centre is a place where we can bring in local stakeholders such as Excel, London City Airport and Siemens, which is leading on UEL’s work to achieve net zero.

“Before, we were promoting the story of how exciting the centre will be, but since it’s opened, the dialogue has changed.

“People understand its principles and how we’re really striving for local impact, employment and engagement as well as picking up new ideas.

“Those from the community, wider industry and UEL itself who have seen the centre, seem really pleased with the space and understand how it is relevant.

“There will be entrepreneurs and scaleups based here, but people can also come for advice with clinics that can be used free of charge by locals from the community.

“We also want to bring in more international organisations – we need the whole mix to be right – to ensure that what we’re creating here is a framework of approach so people will feel this centre is a new space of inspiration.”

There you have it, a beacon of innovation in the Royal Docks, that people across the world can look to.  

Find out more about the Royal Docks Centre For Sustainability here

Read more: Why MadeFor office space in Canary Wharf is a vital part of its offering

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- Jon Massey is co-founder and editorial director of Wharf Life and writes about a wide range of subjects in Canary Wharf, Docklands and east London - contact via jon.massey@wharf-life.com
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Canary Wharf: How Kiko Milano aims to disrupt the estate’s beauty scene

UK and Ireland managing director Paul Devin talks expansion, growth and opening excitement

Kiko Milano supervisor Rattan Saggu applies blusher at the Canary Wharf store

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“We are seriously under-represented in London,” said Paul Devin, Kiko Milano’s managing director for the UK and Ireland.

“Before we opened in Canary Wharf, we had branches in Regent Street, Covent Garden and in the two Westfield shopping centres.  

“But a brand with our potential customer base should have significantly more sites in the capital and at key locations around the UK and Ireland.

“Canary Wharf is very interesting for us – the demographic of the consumer here is very aligned to Kiko Milano and what’s fascinating is the consumer profile has evolved while the area continues to go through a really exciting evolution.

“It’s not the Wharf of old with Monday-Friday city workers.

“Now it’s a vibrant place seven days a week and we want to be where those customers are.”

The Jubilee Place opening this month was the first in Kiko’s ambitious plan to go from 27 stores in the UK to 100 over the next four years.

It’s also an opportunity for the brand to trial a more compact store with a smaller footprint and see consumers’ reactions to that.

“When visiting our store, people will find quite a disruptive take on the beauty industry,” said Paul.

“If you’re a customer in that market, you’re often sent down one of two paths. 

“The first is a self-select environment where there might be great brands but there’s no service.

“You might take a product to the till and try it on, there might be some testers or there might not.

“Alternatively there’s the prestige environment.

Kiko Milano’s Canary Wharf store is located in Cabot Place mall

“There you have that counter element which, for some consumers, is fantastic, but for others is a little bit formal – it can be a bit of a barrier as it’s not so relaxed.

“What Kiko Milano offers in all of its branches is a bright, relaxed atmosphere with music in the background and beauty advisers who are trained to help customers.

“There are product areas where you can test and play too, so you get the best of both worlds.

“You get prestige quality products at an accessible price point, with unbelievable quality.  

“If you want a five or 10-minute makeover, you can have one free of charge, and we’ll talk about the products used. 

“Then you can choose to buy or come back another time – or not – it makes no difference to the way we treat people. Nobody else is doing beauty in this way. 

“Approximately 98% of our products are made in Italy, which is important because that’s where the best in the world are manufactured. 

“In that region, we have access to the same creative minds and the same factories that are used by prestige quality brands.

“We put our own spin and innovation into the mix and offer our products to consumers at a far more affordable price.

“It’s a sweet spot for us, because we’re both the brand and the retailer so you don’t have that margin on the price – the customer doesn’t have to pay a mark-up and we can offer amazing quality for less.”

Founded in Milan, Kiko has been trading for 26 years with a mission to “surprise and delight consumers” with its stores.

Paul said it had been a pioneer, introducing attractions such as video walls and in-store music as it aimed to bring the feel of clothes shopping to the beauty and skincare market.   

“Today we have 1,100 stores globally in 65 countries, including market-leading positions in Italy, France, Spain, Portugal and the Middle East,” he said.

“Then we’ve got opportunities where we are looking to seriously accelerate the brand in the UK and Ireland, Germany, the US and Asia.

“It’s our ambition to reach more than 2,000. The momentum is there.”

The growth in bricks and mortar stores reflects Kiko’s approach to expanding its brand online both for exposure and sales.

“We have a strategy of unified commerce,” said Paul.

“I don’t think there’s a consumer today, whether they’re in the automotive industry, fashion, beauty or footwear, who is not using digital devices for research and to purchase products. 

“But our stores are an integral part of that.

“If someone in Canary Wharf comes into Kiko Milano and has a great experience then I’m delighted. 

“If they go on to purchase a product online, via click-and-collect or from the shop, then that’s great.

“What we’re obsessed with is a customer-centric approach – if we’re able to combine online and offline, then that helps us climb further up the hierarchy. It’s a complementary approach. 

“When customers go into our stores they will meet one of our fantastic beauty advisers, who wear what we call a brush belt ready to demonstrate key products and applications.

“They are all qualified beauticians, are ready to offer makeovers and are equipped with bespoke iPhones that can be used for all transactions or even to order products to stores or to other locations.

“Our heritage is in physical stores and that will always be at the forefront of what we do – we want to invest in that experience, whether it’s in a compact branch like Canary Wharf or our new flagship in Covent Garden.”

The store carries an extensive range of products

With beauty and skincare firmly at the core of Kiko’s offer – best sellers include its Skin Trainer Opitcal Corrector and 3D Hydra Lipgloss – big plans are afoot to extend the brand’s range.

Paul said: “We’re currently working to articulate our new position, which is: ‘Art, beauty, joy’.

“We’ll be doing so many things to get that message out there over the coming months and it’s the first time the UK will have a heavyweight media campaign from us. 

“We’ll open 13 stores in the next eight months and refurbish another three, so that’s key.

“Then we’re also working on a lot of product categories and we’ll be launching a haircare range followed by sun care and then fragrances in the fourth quarter.

“With Kiko there’s a new collection every four weeks and we have some great collaborations coming up including one with Bridgerton, which captures the essence of the new series.”

Clearly one to watch…

THREE WHARF LIFE PICKS

Jess Maddison has scoured the store to find a trio of products for shoppers to look out for…

Days In Bloom Perfecting Face Powder, £17.99 

This beautiful compact holds finishing powder to eradicate any shine on the go. Powder in public with pride,” said Jess.

Days In Bloom Flowery Brush Set, £22.99

“One of the prettiest brush sets I’ve seen, I love the fact it is a four-in-one and comes in a little flowery pouch,” said Jess.

Days In Bloom Radiant Universal Oil, £18.99 

“This feels heavenly on the skin. It can be used on the face, body and hair and has a lovely shimmer to it too,” said Jess.

THREE KIKO MILANO BEST SELLERS

Kiko Milano has picked out its most popular products for Wharfers’ beauty radars…

Skin Trainer CC Blur, £19.99 

“Products like this get people into a really good skincare regime and really set them up for great foundation,” said Paul.

3D Hydra Lipgloss Limited Edition, £14.99 

“This is available in 25 different shades and has exploded on the likes of TikTok – it’s amazing,” said Paul.

Maxi Mod Volume And Definition Mascara, £13.99 

“We’re famous for our eye products such as this one which is a best seller all around the world,” said Paul.

Find out more about Kiko Milano here

Read more: Why MadeFor office space in Canary Wharf is a vital part of its offering

Read Wharf Life’s e-edition here

Subscribe to our free Wharf Whispers newsletter here

- Jon Massey is co-founder and editorial director of Wharf Life and writes about a wide range of subjects in Canary Wharf, Docklands and east London - contact via jon.massey@wharf-life.com
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Property: How St James’ Bow Green development connects to nature

Berkeley Group’s latest East End scheme comes with extensive amenities and a lots of green space

An artist’s impression of Bow Green with Canary Wharf in the background and Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park in the foreground

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Integrated ovens with air fryer functionality, an Imax Enhanced cinema, a boxing ring, a botanical garden – Bow Green is not exactly short on stand-out resident amenities.

There’s a sense that developer St James – part of the Berkeley Group – has pulled out all the stops for its east London scheme.

However – while the underfloor heating, the indoor and outdoor swimming pools and a restaurant, with exterior tables shaded by living trees, are all significant pulls for buyers – there’s a deeper attraction too.

Berkeley isn’t new to this part of London, of course.

Its schemes include South Quay Plaza beside Canary Wharf, London Dock in Wapping, Poplar Riverside overlooking the River Lea and TwelveTrees Park next to West Ham station.

But Bow Green’s location – roughly in the middle of the triangle formed by the Wharf, Stratford and the City – sets it apart.

The site is at the centre of a wealth of green spaces, which have clearly been an inspiration for its architects and planners. 

In the coming years, St James’ scheme will see up to 1,450 homes built on a patch of land off Bow Common Lane.

A new public park will be created at the heart of Bow Green

At its heart, a new public park will be created, with residential buildings arranged around the site’s perimeter.

Pathways and green corridors between them will allow easy access for pedestrians, cyclists and, doubtless, wildlife.

An abundance of green spaces radiate out from this epicentre – not least the sprawling acreage of Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park, Ackroyd Drive Greenlink and the emerald swathe of Mile End Park, which runs north to south along the Regent’s Canal.

Travel a little further and Bow Common and Bartlett Park lie to the south, while Victoria Park, the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and Hackney Marshes beckon to the north. 

“One of the key things that we wanted to establish early on at Bow Green is this connection to the those spaces,” said Katie Thompson, sales and marketing director at St James. 

“We’ve got the 27 acres of Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park right opposite the site and, when you look at a map, you see this part of London has an unusually high number of these open spaces.

“Our development is hugged by green and what we’re doing is plugging into that by creating our own sculpted park at Bow Green.”

Bow Green’s first phase is now under construction

Berkeley has serious history in creating such spaces.

There’s Maribor Park at Royal Arsenal Riverside with its delta-style water feature and the playful Cator Park at Kidbrooke Village, which won both the Sir David Attenborough Award for enhancing biodiversity and The President’s Award at The Landscape Institute Awards in 2020.

For Bow Green, environmental artist Chris Drury has come up with a curvaceous green amphitheatre that will feature a stepped fountain. It sits amid a network of tree-lined pathways and wildflower beds.

“We wanted to give the development something that had a pull both for people living here but also for the wider community,” said Katie.

“There’s a responsibility as a developer for how we activate that space – do we host fairs or performances, for example? What we can do with that space is create moments.

“The other lovely thing is that the park will look and feel completely different whether you’re in it or looking down from one of the apartments.”

Habitation is, naturally, at the core of St James’ design, with Bow Green pitched as a tranquil space for residents to live, which is nevertheless well connected via the Tube from Mile End or Bow Road or the DLR from Devons Road.

Delivered in five phases, the first will see an extensive array of residents facilities built alongside the initial complement of apartments.

The development will have an outdoor pool for residents to use

So what’s it going to be like living at Bow Green?

“When you think of east London, it’s often the towers of Canary Wharf or the older housing estates with high-rise blocks, but Bow Green is completely different,” said Jess Chapple, head of sales at St James.

“Here the development is very much intertwined with nature – it’s 50% green space – and the design is also sympathetic to the area and its heritage. 

“Here people are buying into a place where the city and nature blend together.

“I imagine someone working in Canary Wharf, Stratford or the City who wants to come home and feel like they’ve got everything on their doorstep, with green space and residents’ facilities brought to them through careful design. 

“While they’re surrounded by that golden triangle, when they come here they’ll be taking a step back from the hustle and bustle, while still being in a Zone 2 location.

“The apartments themselves range from studios to three-bedroom homes with specifications that are the result of everything St James has learnt about design, including during 10 years of its scheme in White City.

“That means every apartment has things like coat storage, while studios have separate sleeping areas – we’ve really thought about how people will live in these spaces. 

“For us, it’s about constantly evaluating what we’re offering right up until launch, to make sure we’re keeping up with trends in the market and that, ultimately, people will be happy in their homes.”

The Canopy restaurant will feature plenty of greenery and outdoor tables shaded by foliage

With extensive planting, landscaping and a wealth of amenities, life at Bow Green promises to be filled with diversions.

The spa at the development will feature both indoor and outdoor heated swimming pools, connected visually through large, full-height windows.

Residents will also have access to a fully-equipped gym, which includes a boxing ring alongside treadmills, weights and heavy bags.

The Garden Room will act as a games space, complete with foosball and pool tables, while The Reading Corner promises a place for residents to work, take in a good book or simply watch people pass by.

“When you look at the detail of our plans, there are lots of little nooks and seats for people to use,” said Katie.

“The way life is now, people will pause and take a laptop out anywhere and we’re thinking about those moments.”

On a more leisurely note, Bow Green will also be the first development in the UK to feature an Imax Enhanced cinema for residents to use – a significant boost in quality and picture definition for those who enjoy a good movie.

Then there’s Bow Yard, a public, cobbled outdoor space that will be home to markets and The Canopy restaurant and cafe.

This will feature plentiful greenery, foliage-shaded outdoor seating and dishes made with some ingredients grown in the residents’ botanical garden – a raised space which will be used to cultivate fruit trees and herbs.

The indoor pool will be visually connected to the outdoor pool and the scheme’s green spaces via full height windows

As if that wasn’t enough, there will also be a convenience store on site and a 24-hour concierge service that links residents up to the various amenities.

Transport-wise, the development offers Tube and DLR connections within walking distance and multiple bus stops nearby.

“There are also lots of cycling routes nearby including on the canal to Victoria Park and one that’s less than 10 minutes to Canary Wharf said Jess.

“You can walk there in 25 minutes and there are also places to hire bikes and cars locally if residents need them.  

As well as being better value than many Zone 2 developments, we’re also offering a different kind of lifestyle – this place is tranquil and the facilities are outstanding.”

St James is currently marketing homes off-plan in the first phase of Bow Green.

key details

Prices at Bow Green start at £395,000 for a studio, £465,000 for a one-bed and £650,000 for a two-bed.

Three-bedroom homes will also be available as further properties are released.

Service charges are estimated at £4.85 per sq ft.

First completions are expected in 2026. Interested parties can call St James on 020 3814 8110 or find out more here.

Read more: Why MadeFor office space in Canary Wharf is a vital part of its offering

Read Wharf Life’s e-edition here

Subscribe to our free Wharf Whispers newsletter here

- Jon Massey is co-founder and editorial director of Wharf Life and writes about a wide range of subjects in Canary Wharf, Docklands and east London - contact via jon.massey@wharf-life.com
Subscribe To Wharf Life

Canary Wharf: How MadeFor is a vital piece of the estate’s office space offering

Fitted, furnished and managed solution presents firms of all sizes with a hassle-free option

MadeFor office spaces in Canary Wharf come fully furnished and ready to use

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It wasn’t all that long ago, in the grand scheme of things, that Canary Wharf was a two-storey warehouse built in the 1930s handling bananas brought to the UK from the Caribbean.

The brick-built structure at what was then West India Docks’ Import Dock, managed to survive the bombing during the Second World War, but not the demise of the docks themselves. 

It was bought for £25million in 1988 by Olympia And York – the company that kicked off the regeneration project that would become the Canary Wharf of today – and was demolished without much ceremony a year later.

I mention this not because of some rose-tinted hankering for nostalgia – although the idea of dockers slipping on endless banana skins carries some slapstick appeal.

Instead it’s a reminder of just how far this part of London has come in 35 years.

There’s been much short-termist nonsense published recently about the idea that this part of the city might be in peril. It’s true – some companies based here have decided to move for various reasons.

But before launching into a cascade of gloomy thoughts about home working’s effect on the economy and the merits of office clusters, consider a different perspective.

Three-and-a-half decades ago, there was nothing much at Canary Wharf but derelict warehouses.

A group of people had to imagine what it might be, who might want to be there and what – if any – companies would come over. In the end, their creativity and bravery yielded success, with the arrival of the Jubilee line extension proving pivotal in that story.

Towers rose and were filled. They largely still are.

MadeFor customers enjoy self-contained spaces with modern facilities

Current media commentary cries out that Canary Wharf will have to reinvent itself if it is to continue to flourish.

But such pieces entirely miss the point. Canary Wharf has done nothing but endlessly reinvent itself since that old warehouse crumbled. 

The idea that a few financial institutions moved over here from the City in pursuit of cheaper rent and larger spaces in the 2000s and that nothing much has changed since, is simply perception lagging reality.

The estate and the surrounding area is on a constant path of change, renewal and development – its priorities shifting to meet and satisfy demand.

That’s the case with its shops, bars, restaurants and open spaces as much as it was in the decision to build housing on Wood Wharf. 

Canary Wharf Group (CWG) has demonstrated an increasingly open and agile approach to the land it manages – whether that’s embracing competitive socialising with Fairgame and Electric Shuffle or deciding to host a vast padel tennis complex – as it works tirelessly to broaden the appeal of the estate. 

But what of the office space itself?

Well there’s been diversification there too amid a long track-record of flexibility to serve the market.

While tech community Level39 provides small startups with a home and space to grow, funkier spaces have been created at Wood Wharf. 

North Quay will see significant lab space created as the estate continues to attract organisations from sectors beyond financial services.

Eggs, baskets and all that.

That hasn’t, of course, stopped the likes of Barclays and Citi recommitting to the area – doubtless convinced by an environment that now draws significant crowds at weekends in virtue of what’s on offer to visitors as well as residents.

Nevertheless, CWG hasn’t stood still on office space either, with MadeFor perhaps the punchiest addition to its offering in recent years.

Canary Wharf Group associate for office leasing Luke Thurlow

“In short, it’s our fully-fitted, furnished and managed workspaces,” said Luke Thurlow, CWG associate for office leasing and one of the team tasked with helping firms land on the Wharf or move into bigger premises.

“Traditionally, a tenant would take an empty shell and build it themselves, creating meeting rooms, break-out spaces and filling it with furniture.

“MadeFor takes away all of that hassle for the end-user, who can pretty much move in immediately if they like.

“Office space has always been a strong part of the business and this is part of diversifying our portfolio.

“It means Canary Wharf offers single desks and co-working at Level39, self-contained units under MadeFor and shell space if a client prefers that.

“MadeFor can cater for businesses with 10 desks in 1,000sq ft of space, right up to our biggest letting where Citi took 10 floors as part of a short-term solution to house staff while its tower is being refurbished.

“The message is that many people think Canary Wharf is only for larger businesses – big multinational companies, which we do have here – but even if you’re a small startup or scaleup, we can accommodate your needs.”

It’s an offer that’s clearly gaining traction, with recent signings, including business power supplier, Pozitive Energy, electric vehicle charging firm, Hypervolt, and Taiwanese energy trader, WelHunt, all opting for MadeFor offices at One Canada Square.

Global trading organisation FIA and manufacturing firm Rittal also recently announced they would be renewing their MadeFor leases in the building.

“These recent deals show that companies continue to see Canary Wharf as an international icon,” said Luke.

“Buildings like One Canada Square are seen as part of a company’s strategy to build its business, find new clients and retain top talent – there’s real appeal there.

“MadeFor appeals to both a variety of sectors and businesses of different sizes. Often, smaller firms don’t want the headache of fitting out a space. 

“These are self-contained workspaces so tenants are not sharing meeting rooms, break out spaces or kitchens with other occupiers. 

“That’s especially important so companies know who is coming in and out of their space – vital if you’re regulated by the FCA, for example.”

Layouts include break-out spaces and open-plan design

Essentially, MadeFor is a crucial piece in the puzzle.

One of the key ideas behind the creation of Level39 more than a decade ago was that it had the potential to bring fast-growing startups onto the estate.

With a vast portfolio, it could then flexibly serve the needs of those businesses as they grew.

MadeFor both provides space for companies that are expanding, but it also allows the estate to pitch more effectively to firms and organisations of varying size that aren’t home grown, but like the idea of a move to east London.

“One example would be challenger bank Revolut, which started at Level39,” said Luke.

“Now it is based in an 80,000sq ft space at the Columbus Building off Westferry Circus.

“Because CWG has been running the estate for more than 30 years we are able to take a long-term vision for our customers and as a custodian of this part of London.

“If a business is half way through its lease and bursting at the seams or looking to downsize due to an increase in hybrid working, we can have those conversations. 

“Other landlords use more conventional models where they buy a single building, develop it, lease it and sell it.

“This can make those situations more difficult. What we offer is stability.”

Don’t confuse stability with traditionalism, however.

Luke was keen to stress that MadeFor’s spaces were fitted out to reflect the needs of businesses today.

“Our design philosophy dispenses with reception desks and guest waiting areas,” he said.

“The idea is that visitors come directly into a break-out space where they can get a feel for how the business is working as soon as they arrive.

“We can, of course, design to a customer’s brief and we’re always working based on feedback from previous projects. 

“Perhaps if we’d done this three years ago we’d have had flashy boardrooms off reception areas – people didn’t think you should have staff mingling with visitors.

“But people aren’t working like that any more.

“Visitors want to get a flavour of the company – to be in your world rather than in a holding zone.

“Hybrid working presents great opportunities for businesses – if you look at their spaces and how they’re fitting them out, things are a lot more considered now.

“You’re seeing a lot more meeting rooms, collaboration spaces, fewer conventional rows of desks.

“Suppose you have a project team that’s coming in three days a week – what do they need? 

“Some customers have asked for more break-out space, while others want desks because people are also coming into the office to do more focused work and to make the most of sitting with colleagues to do that.”

CWG will even look after plants in its MadeFor spaces

Beyond the spaces themselves, the estate’s constant evolution is perhaps the most potent weapon in Luke’s arsenal when talking to potential clients.

But then there’s the added value of engaging with a landlord which is completely invested in fostering a thriving, vibrant local economy.

Luke said: “The quality of our office space and workspaces is generally well understood in the market.

“We produce top quality, best-in-class office developments.

“But what we’re also trying to show people who come to Canary Wharf are the lifestyle amenities – the shops, bars and restaurants, the green open spaces and the transport links.

“With the Elizabeth line, you’re 45 minutes from Heathrow. It’s about trying to excite people by getting them to picture themselves and their business here. 

“There are the technical details like the air conditioning and the Wi-fi, but most people who come to look at office space will think more about the coffee downstairs and dinner at Hawksmoor or Dishoom.

“We deliver high quality workspace, but it’s also about our tenant services team and the maintenance operation.

“We’ve also launched an app for the estate so people know what’s here and about all the events that are going on. 

“We’re not just a landlord collecting rent – will it be a Yoga session before work or finding out about Wharf Connect, our network for early career professionals?

“It’s all about what you can do here and, if we’re not doing something already, then talking to us about delivering it.

“It’s a very exciting time and, over the next 10 years people will see so much change here, whether that’s the landscaping of Middle Dock in partnership with the Eden Project or any of the other plans in the pipeline.”

Suffice to say evolution is a certainty at Canary Wharf as it brings life sciences and schools into the mix alongside residential, higher education, governmental bodies and much more.

That, however, will doubtless be easier for Luke and his colleagues to articulate to potential clients than it was for teams 35 years ago, when the whole process of convincing firms to give E14 offices a chance began.

  • key details

MadeFor spaces are available in Canary Wharf at One Canada Square, 40 Bank Street, 20 Water Street and the Columbus Building.

Offices are cleaned and managed including repairs, maintenance, waste management and refreshment options.

Find out more about MadeFor at Canary Wharf

Read more: New events space Broadwick Studio launches on Wood Wharf’s Water Street

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- Jon Massey is co-founder and editorial director of Wharf Life and writes about a wide range of subjects in Canary Wharf, Docklands and east London - contact via jon.massey@wharf-life.com
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Property: How shared ownership homes at Kidbrooke Square are surrounded by amenities and green spaces

NHG Homes scheme offers properties with deposits starting at £4,625 for 25% of a one-bed

An artist’s impression of Kidbrooke Square in Greenwich

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NHG Homes’ Kidbrooke Square development is all set to welcome its first residents in the coming months.

Set beside the wider regeneration of the Ferrier Estate, the area has been transformed in recent years with extensive house building and landscaping.

This project has seen a wealth of amenities arrive in this part of the Royal Borough Of Greenwich, including the blockbuster playgrounds and open spaces of Cator Park – a winner of the Sir David Attenborough award for biodiversity – all of which will benefit Kidbrooke Square buyers.

NHG Homes’ scheme is currently offering one, two and three-bedroom properties on a shared ownership basis, with prices starting at £92,500 for a quarter share of an apartment.

The housing association recently unveiled a one-bedroom show home on-site, showcasing the features of its homes including fully fitted kitchens with A+ energy-rated appliances, bathrooms with porcelain floor tiles and white sanitaryware as well as built-in wardrobes and storage space.

Properties feature open-plan design and boast private outdoor space (including two apartments with winter gardens). Further benefits on-site include communal cycle storage and a concierge service.

Locally, Pegler Square is home to cafes, shops and The Depot pub as well as a gym and regular food markets.

In addition to Cator Park, the open spaces of Kidbrooke Green Park and Sutcliffe Park are also within easy walking distance.

The development is located right beside Kidbrooke Station, offering rapid connections into the centre of the capital – London Bridge takes about 16 minutes, with Waterloo East three minutes beyond that. 

Shared ownership properties at the scheme feature open-plan design

Journeys to Canary Wharf take a little over 20 minutes with a change at Lewisham onto the DLR.

The area is well served by bus services and cycle routes, with trips to Blackheath and Greenwich within easy pedalling distance. 

NHG Homes head of marketing and digital, Amie Triphook-Cole, said: “Now is a brilliant time to buy at Kidbrooke Square, as residents start to move in and the community continues to grow. 

“These fantastic apartments have been designed with a sense of comfort, accessibility and sustainability in mind.”

NHG Homes said the monthly costs of a shared ownership property at Kidbrooke – where rent is paid on the portion of the property not owned by the buyer – were cheaper on average than renting locally. 

With a 5% deposit paid on a 25% share of its entry level one-bed, it estimates that cost to be £1,344 per month, dropping to £1,291, if a buyer pays a 10% deposit.

Fully fitted kitchens come with A+ energy-rated appliances
  • key details

Prices at Kidbrooke Square start at £92,500 for a 25% share of a one-bed apartment, based on a total market value of £370,000. 

The home extends to some 566sq ft and is available with a minimum deposit of £4,625 (5%).

Two-beds are also available starting at £111,875 for a 25% share. Deposits for that property would start at just under £5,600 (5%).

Find out more about Kidbrooke Square here

Bedrooms come with built-in storage

Read more: New events space Broadwick Studio launches on Wood Wharf’s Water Street

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- Jon Massey is co-founder and editorial director of Wharf Life and writes about a wide range of subjects in Canary Wharf, Docklands and east London - contact via jon.massey@wharf-life.com
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Property: How Square Roots Lewisham offers shared ownership homes by the river

South-east London scheme’s apartments start at £106,250 for a 25% share of a one-bed home

An artist’s impression of Square Roots Lewisham

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The first development to feature in our focus on shared ownership is Square Roots Lewisham.

Delivered in partnership with developer London Square, the south-east London scheme presents prospective buyers with a collection of 141 one, two and three-bedroom apartments as well as duplexes.

Located beside the River Ravensbourne, the development is seven minutes walk from Lewisham Station for rail and DLR services offering links to Canary Wharf and the City.

Properties at Square Roots Lewisham feature fully fitted kitchens and bathrooms, private balconies or terraces for all apartments and space for home working.

The development boasts riverside walks, play areas and a communal roof terrace for residents as well as cycle storage, wireless door entry via handheld devices, a 10-year NHBC warranty and a two-year Square Roots customer service warranty.

Buyers can expect to be able to move into their properties this spring.

Square Roots is set to unveil a new three-bedroom show home at its Lewisham Sales Suite on March 16, 2024, and will welcome visitors from noon-4pm. 

Readers can find out more information about the event  by calling 0333 666 2535 or registering online at squareroots.co.uk.

The developer is also offering prospective buyers a package of incentives for those reserving properties at the full asking price.

Those purchasing a one-bed can get up to £4,000 of tailored benefits, while those opting for a two-bed can get up to £6,000.

The development boasts a communal roof terrace

Incentives include Window treatments from Thread And Dandy, John Lewis or Ikea vouchers, an annual travel card for Zones 1-6 or an annual parking space at Lewisham Shopping Centre.

London Square South managing director, Sean Gavin, said: “This is an outstanding opportunity for buyers keen to purchase a high quality new home close to the heart of London, which offers great value. 

“Square Roots Lewisham is part of an extensive regeneration of the town centre, where significant investment is being made.

“This is excellent news for buyers who are looking for an affordable home in a great location in the capital.”

Canary Wharf workers considering a home at the development can look forward to a commute of less than 30 minutes door-to-door.

Residents will also benefit from an extensive network of local cycle paths offering direct connections to Greenwich, Blackheath and Deptford.

Lewisham itself has seen an influx of capital and activity in recent years with regeneration projects that have delivered new homes and amenities.

The area continues to see strong price growth, with Rightmove recording a 6% rise in average values year-on-year, 11% up on the 2020 peak of £545,248. 

This contrasts favourably with trends in other areas of London, which have seen falls in recent years.

Square Roots was established by London Square two years ago with the aim of delivering 3,500 affordable homes over the next five years.

With 1,000 properties currently under construction, its schemes have already attracted recognition in the Evening Standard New Homes Awards and First Time Buyer Awards.

Square Roots Lewisham is set to launch a three-bedroom show home
  • key details

Prices at Square Roots Lewisham start at £106,250 for a 25% share of a one-bed apartment, based on a total market value of £425,000. 

The home extends to some 551sq ft and is available with a minimum deposit of just over £5,300 (5%).

Find our more about Square Roots Lewisham here

Read more: New events space Broadwick Studio launches on Wood Wharf’s Water Street

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- Jon Massey is co-founder and editorial director of Wharf Life and writes about a wide range of subjects in Canary Wharf, Docklands and east London - contact via jon.massey@wharf-life.com
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Canary Wharf: How The Canary Wharf PA Club is set for monthly meet-ups

Relaunched organisation sees founder Alice Scutchey team up with Lucia Sudlow to support assistants on the estate and beyond

The Canary Wharf PA Club founder Alice Scutchey

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Alice Scutchey founded The Canary Wharf PA Club (CWPAC) in 2019 while working as a senior EA to Citi’s UK chief financial officer and things took off.

Tapping into a desire among personal assistants, executive assistants and office managers to meet and network, a packed schedule of events saw the organisation swell to a database of thousands. 

The club ended up becoming like a business with Alice running things alongside her full-time career, offering premium paid memberships to help sustain and monetise its operation.

“I probably could have quit my job and made it into a business, but I didn’t want that,” she said.

“I was increasingly finding it hard to get to know people personally – they knew me but I didn’t know them because I was busy running the events.”

Something of a victim of its own popularity, Alice decided to put the club on pause.

Having worked as an EA at American Express and Quintet Private Bank, she is now director of EMEA business administration at global printing and communications firm Toppan Merrill and has turned her attention back to her creation.

This time, however, she’s got some help.

“It came about because I was chatting with my friend, Lucia Sudlow, about the network,” said Alice.

“It had become unmanageable and I didn’t have time for it.

“Both of us have a background as assistants, so we discussed whether we should give relaunching it a shot together.

“That way we could halve the workload.

“There’s clearly a need for people to meet and – being a PA can be a lonely role. You don’t necessarily have a team or an internal network.

“It’s about bringing people together and helping them in any way we can.”

To that end, Alice and Lucia officially relaunched the club with an event at Doubletree By Hilton London Docklands Riverside, with a plan to commit to a sustainable 12 events per year.

“There are lots of businesses that offer training and courses to help people be better PAs,” said Alice.

“But we want to focus on the person, not on the role.

“The club isn’t about companies selling things to our members either. 

“It’s meeting once a month with no pressure or expectations – just a desire to bring something to the table.

Ask The Imossible’s Lucia Sudlow has joined the operation

“PAs often have something extra going on in their lives – a passion, a hobby or a side business.

“We want our events to be about bringing those things out and showcasing them.

“To anyone new to the club I would say: ‘Bring your whole self to a monthly meet-up and connect with other like-minded people to support each other’.”

That message of connection and friendship rings true for Lucia and Alice too. 

“I originally trained as an architectural technician but I wasn’t very good at it,” said Lucia, who today runs creative and production agency Ask The Impossible, with her husband.

“I was made redundant in 2008, and I went to get a temp job as an assistant admin person. I realised that I was really good at it, enjoyed it and got a lot from it.

“When I first came to London, I was in a role for about 18 months and then I was offered a new job, so I needed to hire someone. Alice came in.

“We only spent two weeks working together and 14 years later, we’re still friends.

“I went on to work for a tech startup and became the head of people and talent after doing pretty much every job there apart from IT development.

“Now I run the operations side of our agency – my husband has the crazy ideas and I make sure they happen.

“As long as whatever a brand wants to do is legal and moral, we’ll do it.

“I’m still very much interested in the PA world and I like to be involved with good people – that’s why I wanted to help with the club.

“We’re going to focus on one good quality event a month – there are lots of clubs that offer paid membership and venue finding services and so on.

“But we just want to support people, not sell them something.

“Things don’t always need to be about growing your skills or your professional career.

“Sometimes you just want to meet people, have a drink, socialise and make connections.”

And that’s really what success looks like for the CWPAC reborn – a vehicle that’s for members to enjoy themselves and benefit from friendships forged.

“It might be that, through the club, someone has found a new job or bought a product from another PA’s side business,” said Alice.

“To me seeing these things is success. It might be that someone gains the confidence to present in front of an audience.

“Many PAs who run their own businesses don’t have thid and our events will be a non-judgmental space that will help people do that.

“If someone has something they want to present to the group then we’ll book them in.

“Of course, being a PA is a career in itself, but moving on to another a role is also a natural path for an assistant to take.

“It’s important to us to support that transition, if people want to make it, as it’s something we’ve both done.”

Lucia added: “PA skills are so transferable – you have to be a jack of all trades in the role. That’s so often a phrase people use negatively, but actually it’s not.

“Having a little bit of knowledge about a lot of things is really useful.

“PAs can get typecast in the assistant role, but actually they’re so capable when they get to a certain part of their career because they have gained so much knowledge.

“Both me and Alice are good examples of what people can go on and do – we want to tell people not to be afraid of their ambitions.”

  • need to know

The Canary Wharf PA Club is aiming to meet once a month from now on.

Events will be free unless otherwise stated. Interested parties can register online for further news.

Find out more about CWPAC here

Read more: New events space Broadwick Studio launches on Wood Wharf’s Water Street

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- Jon Massey is co-founder and editorial director of Wharf Life and writes about a wide range of subjects in Canary Wharf, Docklands and east London - contact via jon.massey@wharf-life.com
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Canning Town: How Confluence at Cody Dock is literally immersive as an artwork

Lighting Up The Lea commission plunges visitors into the sounds of the river and the surrounding area

Gino Brignoli, biodiversity officer at Cody Dock

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“Immersive” is one of the most over-used words when it comes to the arts.

But Confluence at Cody Dock has a singular and legitimate claim to it, if desired.

Artist Tom Fisher has created a body of work based on a five-month residency at the community-led regeneration that literally plunges the ears of listeners into the River Lea and its environment.

Working under the name Action Pyramid, the sonic artist and musician was awarded Cody Dock’s Lighting Up The Lea commission – a challenge to respond creatively to its Tidal Lea River Ecology Report.

While some might have expected lights and bulbs to play a part in that response – given the title – with typical freedom of thought, the decision was made to fund a project that would illuminate the river for visitors in a different sense.

Supported by Cockayne Grants For The Arts, The London Community Foundation and the National Lottery Heritage Fund, Confluence itself comes in multiple parts.

Artist Tom Fisher, aka Action Pyramid, records sound under water

The first is already in place and free for visitors to Cody Dock to experience. 

Listen To The Lea allows up to two people to put on headphones at a dedicated spot and listen live to the sounds of the river below via two hydrophones that are permanently submerged in its waters.

The free listening post will be in place until June 12, 2024, with visitors able to listen in person or to tune in online.

“I find it very relaxing,” said Gino Brignoli, biodiversity officer at Cody Dock.

“I can’t stop myself from trying to figure out what it is I’m hearing – perhaps I’m not zen enough – but I really enjoy sitting there and listening.

“I love being next to the water – having the opportunity to see the river, especially at slack tide when the Lea is relatively still.

“I find it fascinating that so much sound is contained within its waters.

“While we don’t necessarily know what we’re listening to through the hydrophones, water is an amazing conductor of sound and there are so many things to hear.

Tom with his Listen To The Lea installation

“Everything that lives beneath the surface tends to communicate that way because it’s a murky world and vision is unreliable. 

“We can’t be certain, but we think we may have heard fish moving pebbles around and clams letting out air on the bottom.

“Personally, I like that the sounds give you an imaginary world to enter.”

While the Lea is considered to be “bad” environmentally speaking – with Gino and other groups targeting improvements that will at least see it receive a rating of “poor” – the river nevertheless teems with life. 

Lighting Up The Lea’s focus is on turning the spotlight on an ecosystem that supports bats, eels, kingfishers and grey seals as well as invaders such as crayfish and mitten crabs. 

“It’s about saying: ‘Hey, this is London’s second largest river and very few people know about it – either that it exists at all or that it’s significant’,” said Gino.

“There’s a lot of work to be done to make sure people know about it, so they can visit.

“We’ve had visitors from Eastlea School in West Ham, for example – which is named after the river – and found that even the teachers hadn’t necessarily made that connection, or been aware that the Lea is here in east London.

Gino enjoys the sounds of the Lea looking towards Tower Hamlets

“The exciting thing about working in ecology is that as long as there’s a will, we can actually achieve quite a lot. The younger generation seem to be more engaged – it’s exciting because this is where the change will come from.”

Awareness is ultimately the point of Confluence  – an appropriate name for a work created on the tidal Lea where fresh water meets brackish, changing direction twice a day as it rises and falls by four or five metres.

The second part of the work will come in the form of an installation that is set to launch with a live event on April 12, 2024.

Tom’s sonic work – wrought from recordings of the subaquatic world, the movement of the Lea estuary’s mud, passing bats and seasonal birdsong – will then be available to hear daily in a dedicated listening space at The Barn, Cody Dock’s new venue and arts space.

“It has been a real pleasure to begin working on this commission, with the Lea often being a source of inspiration for my work,” said Tom. 

“The chance to spend extended time exploring, listening to, and learning about the local tidal ecosystem and surrounding habitat has been really wonderful.

“Something which is often a feature of my practice is using sound as a means to help us reconsider a place.

“The site’s ecology report has been a fascinating starting point.”

Cody Dock CEO, Simon Myers, added: “The lower Lea is rapidly changing and without wider appreciation and awareness of its incredible urban biodiversity we are on track to lose this rich diversity, just as people are rediscovering this under-appreciated corner of London. 

“My hope is that this commission will quite literally help shine a light on the Lea while also producing a new piece of immersive art that inspires people’s imagination.”

Tom’s installation will be available to listen to at Cody Dock’s art space The Barn
  • dive in

The Listen To The Lea part of Confluence is available to experience daily for free on the east bank of the river. It will be in place until June 12, 2024.

Action Pyramid’s installation will be available to listen to for free after April 12.

While Cody Dock is continually open for walkers, its official hours of operation are 9am-5.30pm daily. 

The regeneration effort offers people a wealth of opportunities to volunteer, including on projects to restore and re-flood the dock itself, to clean up the Lea and to observe and record the wildlife that can be found locally.

The scheme is home to a wide variety of initiatives aimed at transforming a formerly derelict toxic waste dump on an industrial estate into an area and facility, which can be enjoyed and visited by local residents and those further afield.

In 2022 it featured in Sir David Attenborough’s Saving Our Wild Isles.  

Find out more about Cody Dock here

Read more: New events space Broadwick Studio launches on Wood Wharf’s Water Street

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- Jon Massey is co-founder and editorial director of Wharf Life and writes about a wide range of subjects in Canary Wharf, Docklands and east London - contact via jon.massey@wharf-life.com
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Greenwich: How Greenwich Theatre is hosting four blockbuster shows in 2024

Artistic director James Haddrell talks Frozen, Beauty And The Beast and why there’s no rent to be paid for 24 years

Kerrie Taylor will play the mother in Frozen

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There’s a bit of a buzz at Greenwich Theatre right now.

Arts funding across the country is being cut, companies and institutions are under increasing financial pressure.

So it’s heartening to hear the venue has signed a long lease agreement with the Royal Borough Of Greenwich that will allow it to keep hosting and producing work for another 24 years.

“It’s astonishing that we’ve got this kind of security now,” said James Haddrell, the theatre’s artistic director.

“It doesn’t come with a grant, but it does come with a rent-free commitment from the council, which we reckon is worth about £2million.

Greenwich Theatre artistic director James Haddrell

“The only conditions in the lease are that we look after the building and we continue doing what we’re doing.

“It means we can plan much further into the future and build relationships with funders and sponsors who know we’re going to be there for the long term.”

It’s a deal that’s vital to the venue’s future, especially as the  creative landscape has changed a great deal in the time that James has been at theatre.

“I came to Greenwich as press officer in 2001 and back then, it was very much a place where people who were 50 and over would come,” he said.

“They were regular theatregoers for whom it was automatic to think about seeing a show, going to a concert or visiting the cinema at the end of the week.

“The changes here have been quite heartening as our average audience is now under 40 and for some shows it’s mid-20s.

“Theatre had to be brave and acknowledge that the older audience was going to disappear and to explore whether theatre was going to disappear with it – it hasn’t.

Paul McGann will play the man with no name in The River

“I wonder whether, as more and more things become digital experiences, theatre will survive because it isn’t like them and will stand out as the exception.

“We have also seen a huge change in theatre landscape, which has been challenging.

“Go back 20 years and there was a thriving touring circuit of companies in this country working on the 400-seat scale we are.

“They were able to do it because they were well funded.

“If you want to present a show with high commercial production values, you need financial support and there was a lot more of it about back then.

“Companies have had to be brave and grow – or disappear.

“That means we have to fill Greenwich Theatre either with our own shows, which are devised for the scale of the venue, or with smaller shows that are full of aspiration and come here to grow.

“We’ve always been excited about the fact we occupy that sort of position in the theatre ecology. 

“We’re not a tiny 40-seater – we attract audiences, press coverage and commercial partners – but if you want to come and try out an idea, you’re not going to lose everything if it doesn’t sell.

“It’s exciting to see companies, who do a show, maybe once or twice, by themselves on a shoestring, grow and develop.”

James Bradshaw will play the murderer in Frozen

As part of that change and, bolstered by its agreement with the council, the venue has announced four landmark productions set to take place over the course of 2024.

This quartet of productions made for Greenwich are all to be directed by James and feature well-known names including Kerrie Taylor (Hollyoaks and Where The Heart Is), Paul McGann (Withnail And I and Doctor Who), James Bradshaw (Endeavour and Hollyoaks) and Indra Ové (Sex Education and Holby City)

At first glance, a programme including Frozen and Beauty And The Beast might raise eyebrows about the Disneyfication of the venue’s offering, but nothing could be further from the truth.

“I’ve wanted to direct Frozen – which is by Bryony Lavery and quite a different prospect from the Disney show – for years,” said James.

“It’s a three-hander about a woman whose child has been abducted and murdered.

“The mother will be played by Kerrie.

“Indra will take the role of the New York academic who wants to study the murderer, who will be played by James.

“It’s a stunning cast and a tough piece of work but it’s not a show that’s depressing – it’s beautiful in its truth.

“It explores nature and nurture, but whichever side of the argument you fall on, it will challenge you.

Beauty And The Beast also isn’t Disney. It’s a very joyful actor-musician show – a folk music-infused hoe-down retelling of the story. 

“There’s a cast of six and it features music from David Haller who has worked on several of our summer shows.

Indra Ové will play the New York academic in Frozen

“It’s incredibly exciting and really fun – there’s just something amazing about watching a brilliant actor pick up an instrument and perform.

“With The River, 2024 is very much a year where I’m achieving my ambitions.

“I’d wanted to do Frozen for a long time and that’s true of The River as well. 

“It was originally performed at the Royal Court in 2012 and is Jez Butterworth’s first play after Jerusalem.

“It’s very different to that, though and has astonishing writing in it.

“It’s about an unnamed man, who will be played by Paul McGann, who takes his girlfriend fishing and camping in the woods.

“Something has happened in the past – but what was it and to whom?

“All I can say is there are more than two people in the cast. It’s brilliant to have Paul coming back.

“There’s something about the atmosphere and the environment at Greenwich Theatre – that applies to the staff and to the performers – people love being in the venue, so they return.

“For an actor like Paul to come to this size venue is a testament to that.

“It’s about the history and you can feel it when you’re in the auditorium. It’s something really special.”

Speaking of which, the final production confirmed will be the latest Greenwich Theatre panto.

Dick Whittington And His Cat will see Anthony Spargo back as writer and villain and Uncle Steve Marwick returning as musical director,” said James.

“We won best design at the Offie Awards for last year’s so this will be about being better and bigger.

“That’s a challenge when we had seven dwarves and a plane in 2023.” 

  • key dates 

Frozen will run from April 26-May 19

Beauty And The Beast from August 2-25

The River from October 1-27

Dick Whittington And His Cat from November 22-January 5.

For more about Greenwich Theatre, go here

Anthony Spargo returns as writer and villain in Dick Whittington And His Cat

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- Jon Massey is co-founder and editorial director of Wharf Life and writes about a wide range of subjects in Canary Wharf, Docklands and east London - contact via jon.massey@wharf-life.com
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