Canary Wharf, alongside its new neighbouring residential zone, Wood Wharf, offer a wealth of residents facilities, great transport links to central London, and some exceptionally designed apartment blocks by world-leading architects.

Of course, there is a downside. Luxury living comes at a premium cost. While the Canary Wharf area boasts some of the highest salaries in the UK, it also boasts some of the UK’s most expensive apartments!

As part of the redevelopment of Wood Wharf, there are new affordable homes constructed in the centre of the estate, known as Harbord Square. The affordable homes at Wood Wharf are divided into 3 buildings:

30 Harbord Square

  • 176 Apartments
  • Discount market rents

50-65 Harbord Square

  • 76 apartments at 50 Harbord Square
  • 67 apartments at 65 Harbord Square
  • Tower Hamlets standard rents

In this article, we’ll take a look at these affordable homes available at Wood Wharf:

  • We’ll provide an overview of the cost of renting one of the affordable one-bedroom apartments, versus the market rate.
  • We will also look at the types of buildings, and apartments, on offer.
  • Finally, we’ll look at 3 reasons why we think these are arguably some of the best affordable homes on offer in London!

30 Harbord Square

Quick look

Architect: Allies & Morrison

Developer: Canary Wharf Group

Height: 27-storeys

Address: 30 Harbord Square, Wood Wharf, London, E14 9NJ

30 Harbord Square with Canary Wharf in the background and park in the foreground

Affordable vs market rent comparison

Intermediate rent rates are set out by the Greater London Authority. Rates are set considering London’s average market rental rates, and the local Ward. (This is also known as the London Living Rental scheme.)

Intermediate rents for one-bedroom apartments in 30 Harbord Square are approximately £1500 per month.

In comparison, the average and median market rates for 1-bedroom apartments in similar buildings in the E14 area (in 2022) are around £2,200 and £2,000 respectively.

Income required to rent at 30 Harbord Square

All rental apartments will require tenants to demonstrate a minimum income. However, there are additional income requirements to be able to be considered for any of the affordable rental schemes.

Prospective tenants will need to meet both the minimum income required, alongside an additional maximum income check.

One-bedroom apartment income example

A widely adopted measure of rental affordability is a gross income of 30 times the monthly rental cost.

  • To rent a one-bedroom apartment from a private landlord in the E14 area at the median market rate for 2022 of £2000 p/m requires an income of £60,000
  • Renting a one-bedroom apartment in the neighbouring Canary Wharf Groups luxury managed rental, 10 George Street (£2,361 p/m) requires aminimum income of £70,000+ per year
  • Renting a similar one-bedroom apartment in 30 harbord Square at affordable intermediate rents, requires a minimum income requirement of £45,000.

Minimum incomes required are roughly £15,000 per annum less than the equivalent market rate, and less than two thirds of the luxury managed rental requirements.

However, prospective tenants need to ensure they comply with the maximum income requirement of (£60,000). This ensures that the limited provision of affordable homes in Wood Wharf are targeted at those who will really benefit, and not snapped up by high-income residents looking for a bargain!

Who can apply?

There is a list of requirements you must meet to be considered for the discounted rent scheme. These include people on the Council’s common housing register list, alongside those in buildings that are up for demolition.

However, crucially, it also includes those who work in the area, and those with family ties to the Borough of Tower Hamlets.

Applications can be directly through the Sharetobuy website or via the Canary Wharf Group’s application form.

50/65 Harbord Square

Quick look

Architect: Patel Taylor

Developer: Canary Wharf Group

Address: 50 Harbord Square, Wood Wharf, London, E14 9NJ

65 Harbord Square, Wood Wharf, London, E14 9NJ

Harbord Square Park, Wood Wharf’s affordable homes, and glass tower Dollar Bay

50-65 Harbord Square rental types

Standard rent rates

Tower Hamlet’s standard rent rates are similar to the affordable rents listed in 30 Harbord Square. These are apartments offered for rent at below-market rates, but the key difference is Tower Hamlets fix the rental prices, rather than it being a proportion of the area’s rental rates.

This baseline rental rates, are the same across the entire London Borough of Tower Hamlets. As a result, it’s arguably even more of a good deal in Wood Wharf because the area has some of the highest market rental rates in the borough. The discount between market rates, and the affordable standard rent rates here is the largest.

Housing register occupants

The second type available of affordable homes located in 50 and 60 Harbord Square are housing register occupants. These homes are not linked to incomes or market rates, and are for Tower Hamlets residents who need a place to live who cannot afford to rent.

Applicants to the Tower Hamlet’s housing register are sorted into 3 priority bands depending on individuals needs. All applicants must have a sole or joint income below £90,000.

Wood Wharf’s affordable homes: 3 top benefits

Housing developers are forced to give something back to the community in several ways, via a mechanism known as a section 106 notice.

These legal agreements can involve providing local amenities, such as the new GP surgery and school at Wood Wharf, grants for improving public transport access, and finally, construction of affordable homes.

Sky view of 50 Harbord square and 65 Harbord square

Like, all new build developments in the UK, developers must meet affordable homes targets which are normally set at around 20-30% of the total homes constructed. Wood Wharf lies firmly in the middle of this range, with 25% of the new homes designated as affordable.

Unlike some nearby developments — such as nearby Dollar Bay — the Canary Wharf Group have chosen to keep the affordable homes on site. In fact, Wood Wharf’s affordable homes have a premium position, constructed with views overlooking Harbord Square park in the Eastern portion of Wood Wharf. This has several benefits:

1. Well-run estate and community facilities

Affordable homes benefit from all the wider features of living in an expensive managed estate. Canary Wharf’s 24/7 security team, alongside their professional estate management — both largely funded by the sale of premium homes — are available for everyone.

Canary Wharf’s summer screens set up next to 30 Harbord Square
Canary Wharf’s summer screens — one of many free activities, located next to 30 Harbord Square

Harbord Square’s affordable homes look over, and are named after, one of the largest parks in Wood Wharf. A short walk from the boardwalk, shops and cafés, these affordable homes are right in the centre of Canary Wharf and will benefit from its rapid transformation into a desirable residential zone.

Equally, by embedding the homes within the estate, there are also benefits to Canary Wharf’s fledging residential community.

Previously viewed as a corporate area, with high-income workers only staying during the week in small crash-pad apartments, Canary Wharf is trying to transform into lifestyle destination. 4-bedroom family homes, pet-friendly apartments and lower income requirements, will all help this new vision materialise, bringing a family-focus to the area.

2. High-quality design

By giving the homes a central space in the new estate, the Canary Wharf Group have committed themselves to high-quality construction for these affordable units.

65 Harbord square balconies with aircraft flying overhead Canary Wharf
Sky view of 50 Harbord square and 65 Harbord square

Thirty, fifty, and sixty-five Harbord Square’s location has neighbouring studio apartments in buildings such as Manhattan-style 8 Harbord Square sell for upwards of £750,000. To ensure continuity in design, the affordable homes are of the highest quality, from the same architects as their ultra-premium neighbours.

In contrast, affordable homes constructed off site — out of sight from their luxury neighbours — can be of an entirely different design and quality. As an example, ultra-premium development Pan Peninsula’s stone facade and opulent architecture made way for a low rise wooden cladding at its separate affordable home plot, Phoenix Heights.

3. Separate building & management

Unlike many nearby affordable homes — with affordable units embedded within the high-rise building — at Wood Wharf the affordable homes are all individual buildings.

In addition, the Canary Wharf group has set up a standalone management company, Canary Wharf Communities Ltd, to manage the buildings.

This setup arguably has several advantages to neighbouring developments that have integrated affordable homes into the same buildings as market rate tenants.

Occasionally, some affordable homes tenants that are embedded within the luxury buildings are treated as second class citizens.

Secondary entranceways — controversially dubbed poor doors — remain features of many new developments, with affordable homes tenants restricted from the main entranceways.

Wood wharf cycle storage and entrance to 50 Harbord square

Of course, affordable homes pay reduced service charges, however separate buildings avoids the inequality and sometimes confusion arising from certain apartments having access to communal pools and gardens while neighbours are restricted.

Finally, while management companies would profess to treat all the residents equally, there is a conflict of interest in mixed-affordable buildings. Residents paying thousands of pounds a year in charges versus those paying hundreds inevitably end up having more sway, and not all the decisions taken are in everyone’s best interest.

By having separate buildings but also a dedicated management company, the affordable homes at Wood Wharf remove any conflict of interests. All the affordable homes residents at Wood Wharf have access to the same entranceways, facilities and an independent management company.

Summary

Wood Wharf’s affordable home provision in Harbord Square arguably provides some of the best affordable homes in London.

  • By locating the homes in a central position, among some of the most expensive real estate in East London, the Canary Wharf group were committed to ensuring strong design and architecture to keep a premium feel to the estate.
  • The location means these affordable homes also benefit from 24/7 security and extensive parks and estate management, something rarely seen in affordable developments due to the lower service charges
  • By creating standalone buildings for affordable homes and a separate management company, the negatives of combined buildings — such as a lack of affordable residents access to some facilities, separate entryways and postal areas — are removed.

Many of Harbord Square’s affordable homes also benefit from how the London rental reduced rates are calculated, where rates are calculated based on the wider Borough, and not the immediate area.

Due to such a large disparity between Canary Wharf’s premium rents, and the average rental rate for the wider Ward of Tower Hamlets, these affordable homes in Wood Wharf are available at a significant discount to neighbouring properties.

One of the few downsides to these homes are the stringent maximum income rates, ensuring that these homes are only available to those in a narrow earnings band. As an example, for a one-bedroom apartments incomes must remain within a £15,000 band to be applicable. An income below £45,000 or above £60,000 will disqualify prospective tenants.

However, for prospective tenants within the qualifying narrow income band, the Harbord Square development arguably offers some of the most high-end affordable homes in Canary Wharf.