How Regent’s Canal turned from a dirty, stagnant corridor to a prime piece of London’s real estate

Linda J. Dodson

“They were trade wharfs that hadn’t been used for some time,” says Symonds. “The developer has been very careful about the way they look because they are in conservation areas. They have discreet storage spaces that look like beach huts. We encourage all developers to really think about how they can contribute positively to the canal.”

John Nash recognised this from the outset. He wanted to string 56 neo-classical houses together, overlooking the canal from inside Regent’s Park. Eight were built, two of which remain: Nuffield Lodge and Hanover Lodge. 

Nash’s dream was resurrected in 1988 by architect Quinlan Terry who built six villas along the canal over the next 13 years, each named after the different architectural styles they represent – Veneto, Doric, Corinthian, Ionic, Gothick and Regency. Recent developments have followed Terry’s lead, albeit in the modern London architectural vernacular.

The milestone development was at King’s Cross, which includes innovative housing located within the shell of an old gas holder. Argent had worked with the Canal & River Trust on Brindley Place in Birmingham and understood that the canal was an important part of the public realm.

“Developments in the past might have looked at the level change between Granary Square and the canal and said we’re up here and the canal is down there, so we’ll do our thing and let them do theirs,” says Steve Craddock, the CRT’s planning manager.

“Instead they have bridged that gap and created an amphitheatre. They have put in things like the floating bookshop, cafes and floating cinemas. By embracing the canal they have enhanced the overall development.”

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