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NPW development overview
New Providence Wharf is the name given to Ballymore’s expansive riverside complex, located a short distance to the northeast of Canary Wharf.
The development is centred around two towering blocks — 31-storey Ontario Tower and 43-storey Charrington Tower — also featuring a Radisson Blu hotel and office complex.
Built in multiple phases, between 2003 and 2017, the New Providence Wharf is a sprawling luxury flat development with a wealth of amenities and landscaped gardens.
Before completion of Ballymore’s Pan Peninsula apartment complex, Ontario Tower at New Providence Wharf was the tallest residential tower in London’s Docklands.
New Providence Wharf (sometimes referenced as NPW) has survived controversies, alongside cladding issues, but remains a popular residential development scheme.
Here’s a complete overview of the scheme, previous controversies and what it’s like to live there.
From Canary Wharf
Ballymore’s New Providence Wharf masterplan was created by renowned architects Skidmore Owings and Merrill.
The waterside development was completed in multiple phases, with original plans and final completion spanning nearly two decades:
Developer Ballymore has sought to position themselves at the premium end of the London apartment market, and New Providence Wharf has a wealth of luxury facilities.
Setback from Canary Wharf, 0.8 miles (1.29 km) from the financial centre, the entire New Providence Wharf development spans a massive 250,000 square meters.
This waterside location feels less frantic than the fast-paced centres of South Quay’s high-density construction zone, and the Canary Wharf estate, providing a more homely feel.
This has been complemented by significant greenery. In 2003, when the original development remained on the drawing board, it was arguably ahead of its time in terms of packing in green space and extensive rooftop planting.
There is a spacious resident’s garden in the centre of the internal oval buildings of Providence Wharf, cascading water features, shrubbery, and ponds. Alongside ground level landscaping, the stepped roof terraces of the curving main building provide extensive rooftop gardens with eco-friendly rooftop rainwater collection.
As a result, the gardens found here are frequently described a big selling point for the property, and an escape from the often built-up surroundings.
The final completion of the 43-storey centrepiece, Charrington Tower, only occurred in 2017. However, one advantage the New Providence Wharf development has over surrounding areas is its longevity.
With construction happening in phases, some residents have lived at New Providence Wharf for over 15 years — moving in early 2004.
With a constant residential presence across the sprawling site, there are multiple established shops. These span dry-cleaning, dentists, restaurants, cafés, general stores, and more.
With such rapid change, and so many newly completed developments in Canary Wharf, this depth of local amenities is difficult to find in many competing complexes. Unlike New Providence Wharf, newer buildings frequently promise commercial tenants and a thriving community hub, but occasionally the units remain vacant long after the apartments are completed.
The longevity of New Providence Wharf also means that they have an established resident’s association.
There are significant obstacles to setting up an association in a giant complex like this, and a huge number of residents needed to be onboard before residents associations are formalised. As a result, a fully-fledged leaseholder ran association is a rarity. Without one, often residents are at the mercy of whichever building management company the developer has chosen to oversea, with limited recourse for costings and day to day runnings of the estate.
This is the first Ballymore estate, ever, to have a fully recognised Residents Association. While residents don’t have to sign up, having the ability to influence the direction of the estate, and tighter controls over budgets and service charges can be a real selling point.
New Providence Wharf made headlines in 2021 for all the wrong reasons. This Canary Wharf fire initially started due to an electrical issue, and was worsened by a faulty smoke ventilation system, and wooden balconies.
Fortunately, while 40 people were treated for smoke inhalation, nobody lost their lives. This is a testament to the London Fire Brigade, who sent 125 firefighters to the scene.
In the subsequent investigation, the fire commission reported that New Providence Wharf’s high-tech automatic venting system malfunctioned, making the problem worse rather than venting smoke as designed.
Failure of a smoke ventilation system in the 19-storey New Providence Wharf tower block acted “like a broken chimney” which left the only escape route smoke-logged during a blaze last month, a London Fire Brigade (LFB) investigation has found.Deputy fire commissioner Richard Mills
Part of the original 2003 development. The wooden balconies at NPW were also found to be at fault, helping the fire spread more quickly along the outside of the building. However, these were later replaced with more modern units, at Ballymore’s cost, of approximately £3.1 million.
While newer buildings, Ontario Tower and Charrington tower are clad in aluminium, smaller original buildings alongside curving New Providence Wharf, were completed over a decade before the Grenfell fire tragedy. As a result, they are clad in ACM cladding — allowable at the time — and required retrofitting.
Before the works were carried out, there were significant debates between Ballymore and the leaseholders over who would foot the bill. This culminated in a demonstration in Canary Wharf, outside Ballymore’s newest development, Millharbour Village. Joined by council leaders, leaseholders demanded Ballymore pay more than the fraction of the £12 million it was intending to pay.
The result is that works are underway to remove the cladding, scheduled to be completed in mid-2022, with Ballymore and the UK government splitting the cost.
Despite the good end result, in the interim period while flammable cladding remained, residents were paying up to £47,000 per month for a walking fire watch. It is also claimed to have had a significant impact on insurance costs.
New Providence Wharf’s location provides residents with a peaceful feel, setback from the hustle and bustle of the financial centre.
The immediate surrounding area is slowly regenerating, but some nearby areas remain built-up and light-industrial, rather than suburban.
While 0.8 miles (1.29 km) from the financial estate doesn’t sound far — it is walkable in around 18 minutes — it’s not a well-landscaped or particularly accessible route.
NPW’s detached position from the Canary Wharf hub, and the more central Isle of Dogs developments, will, of course, continue to improve with time. Yet, currently, other developments, such as Galliard’s Baltimore Tower, are a similar distance from the financial estate but significantly better connected on foot.
Now the properties at Charrington Tower are EWS1 certificated, fire systems have been thoroughly analysed and combustible cladding removed, its arguably one of the safest tower blocks in London!
However, the legacy of a fire, negative press from the bitter dispute between residents and Ballymore, alongside the lasting effects on insurance costs and service charges are likely to deter some buyers.
The continued development at this large-scale site means that residents facilities have been replaced and remain up-to-date, despite some apartments dating back to 2003. In addition, the site’s longterm footprint provides established retail offerings alongside leaseholders the security and control of a certified residents’ association.
The slightly removed location provides pros and cons. A lengthened walking time from the facilities and transport links of the Canary Wharf estate is a tradeoff for achieving a peaceful waterside development with a more homely, and residential feel than many.
For those that can overlook the controversies, New Providence Wharf, and it’s two principal skyscrapers — Charrington Tower and Ontario Tower — provide an attractive place to call home.