London apartment towers with Hong Kong views

PUBLISHED : Monday, 01 October, 2012, 7:05pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 29 August, 2013, 4:13am

As a former Hong Kong resident now living in London, I have often thought my ideal place in the world would be a combination of both cities. Sadly, 10,000 kilometres separates them, and no amount of tectonic plate movement will ever bring them together, but, over the past couple of decades, a transference of people, money and ideas between the two places has been making a physical impact on London. Walk along the river Thames and you will see dozens of shiny apartment blocks overlooking the water, none of which were there 20 years ago and many of which would not be here now if it wasn’t for Hong Kong property investors and their penchant for waterside homes.

In the mid-1990s, London developers buffeted by recession and housing market downturn sold their schemes off-plan to Hong Kong property investors, to save themselves from bankruptcy. Over the past couple of years, they have been back in the SAR, because, as one analyst put it, “that is where the money is”. Result, an increasing number of tall apartment buildings are appearing that would look completely at home in Hong Kong. It is not just the height of the buildings, but what’s in them that is new to London.

The London mansion block, the traditional, mid-rise equivalent of these new apartment towers, do not have a wealth of facilities. They have no concierges, gyms, swimming pools, business lounges and so forth. Maybe a porter, but that’s it. Hong Kong’s middle classes expect multiple facilities in their SAR homes, and want them in London, so the developers provide. At Pan Peninsula in Canary Wharf, developer Ballymore created a top floor cocktail bar instead of a penthouse, because Hong Kong homeowners wanted that sort of communal space, it found. Maybe, in another 20 years, London will have a new airport in the Thames estuary inspired by Chek Lap Kok. We are already talking about it...