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As Canary Wharf turns 30 a residential community is being introduced for the first time. Ike Ijeh assesses Wood Wharf and its parent
Canary Wharf celebrates its 30th anniversary this year but, for many people, the east London financial district still represents a puzzling host of contradictions. Many see it as an exclusive office district, but it is in fact now home to hundreds of shops and restaurants, including the biggest and best-performing Waitrose store in the UK. Like the City of London, Canary Wharf is not commonly thought of as a residential area, but construction is under way on a 60-storey residential tower that will become the second-tallest building on the island after One Canada Square.
For Londoners in particular, a perception persists that Canary Wharf is somehow separate from the rest of the city – an inaccessible corporate conclave. Yet Canary Wharf benefits from a host of public transport connections, including inner London’s only airport and, from December, the biggest Crossrail station outside the city centre. In fact, the district is about the same distance from the City of London as Buckingham Palace, but nobody would ever suggest the latter isn’t at the heart of London.
The continuing chasm between the perception and reality of Canary Wharf is a result of what the district has and hasn’t managed to achieve during its 30-year lifespan. Its successes are indisputable. From a derelict, post-industrial wasteland in the early 1980s, the district has transformed into a cluster of soaring skyscrapers that houses the UK’s second financial hub and has galvanised London’s position as the world’s leading financial centre.
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