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Building Communities: how our affordable housing developments are transforming new neighbourhoods

Building communities, view looking up at two tower blocks with stats layered over, provision of affordable housing, community areas, strong returns, against clear social need.

Abbey Place 

WPF team outside infront of the two towers.

On a bright and blustery spring morning, we crossed London and travelled to the end of the Elizabeth Line at Abbey Wood station.  Just a stone's throw from the station is Abbey Place, currently the largest standing asset in the CBRE Affordable Housing Fund, to which we have made a commitment of £40m as part of our UK impact affordable housing portfolio.   

The area around Abbey Place currently feels somewhat windswept and remote, in spite of being within Zone 4.  We learned that the area is currently undergoing a transformation, and Abbey Place is one of the first of many new buildings that will be instrumental in turning this neighbourhood into a new community.  Significant investment and regeneration in the area is adding a huge number of additional residential properties, and being the first of these new properties as well as being conveniently located, Abbey Place is high demand. The development is a multi-family construction, made up of two towers and a shared podium garden.  One tower houses 72 flats which are being let at a discount of c.20% to market rate in the area. This ensures genuine affordability, with rents capped at 40% of the local median income. 

When these units were made available to the public, every single flat was let within 2 weeks, demonstrating the high level of demand.  Originally, planning permission was for 90% private rented properties, but CBRE re-negotiated this to 30%, allowing for more shared ownership properties, which support people who could not otherwise afford to get on the property ladder. The second tower contains 173 shared ownership properties.  Again, demand here has been impressive.  At the time of writing around 135 units had already been sold with even more reserved, leaving only 20 to go. 

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Two towers of flats, one with discounted rent homes, and the other of shared ownership homes.
Open plan living area, with large floor to ceiling windows looking out onto the local area.
Team on the terrace with adjacent tower in the background with solar panels on the left hand side.
View from flat window looking out onto local area.

We visited one of the still-vacant shared ownership homes to take a look.  The property was full of natural light, with spectacular floor-to-ceiling windows providing views of the surrounding area.  The environmental credentials were of a high standard (and are the same in the discounted rental properties) with an EPC rating of B and a centralised heating system.  We also learned that solar panels on the roof help power the lifts and communal areas in the building, which reduces the service charge for residents. 

After a quick trip across the shared communal space on the podium level, we ascended the rental unit tower to the roof terrace to admire the views across to Canary Wharf, and then hopped back onto the Elizabeth Line to visit our next destination.

72% discounted rent homes, 173 shared ownership homes, Right next to Abbey Wood station, 6% return over 7-10 years

Wood Wharf 

Buidling site with construction vehicles.

After travelling 4 stops back towards Canary Wharf, we took a short walk to Wood Wharf.  This is also a neighbourhood in development, the entirety of which is in the process of being built from the ground up.  Our investment is in two towers which will jointly contain 294 regulated rent homes.  Currently these are just beginning construction, with the intention to deliver the finished properties in 2026. 

This investment presents a compelling case for strong returns alongside positive social impact.  Wood Wharf is situated in the shadow of prosperous Canary Wharf, but is actually part of the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, one of the most deprived areas in London.  We learned that within Tower Hamlets, an incredible 17% of households are on a housing waiting list, and the two towers being built will be populated entirely with people from this list, delivering against a clear local social need. Unsurprisingly, rents are very high in the affluent Canary Wharf area, but within these towers, planning has mandated a rental cap to ensure affordability.  CBRE have also assessed this against local median incomes to confirm rents are genuinely affordable.  There are several local amenities right next to the towers, including a park, doctors' surgery, vet clinic, school, leisure centre and supermarket, making this is a highly practical place to live. 

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Showing list of local amenities on site including: sports centre, health centre, supermarket, vets and school.
Model of site full site, housing development areas, open spaces and amenities.
Works breaking ground on site with three large cranes.

From a sustainability perspective, the properties will be EPC B rated, and although planning was agreed in 2013, they will be constructed to a higher standard in line with the 2020 building regulations. 

As mentioned above, the two affordable towers we are investing in are part of a much wider development to create the new community area of Wood Wharf.  Creating affordable homes was a non-negotiable part of obtaining planning permission for the entire development.  Due to this, CBRE negotiated with Canary Wharf Group (the property company leading the wider development) to achieve a significant discount on the properties, acquiring them ahead of construction for only £80m compared to the development cost of £150m.  This benefits both parties, as it frees up capital for Canary Wharf Group to focus on the more lucrative properties in the area, and delivers properties to CBRE at a cost which means they can rent them at affordable prices to local residents. 

294 regulated homes, new community area, local amenities, 6% return over 7-10 years


Our journey through Abbey Place and Wood Wharf offers a vivid snapshot of how strategic investments in affordable housing can significantly impact and transform neighbourhoods. Abbey Place exemplifies the pressing need for affordable housing solutions within reach of central London. Wood Wharf, poised to bring regulated rent homes to one of London's most deprived areas, represents a forward-looking approach to urban development, balancing economic viability with social responsibility. As we continue to expand our affordable housing portfolio, our focus remains on ensuring that sustainable returns for WPF are coupled with the benefits of growth and regeneration being accessible to all. 

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