All change at Canary Wharf: shifting focus to residential

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As Sir George Iacobescu - the Canary Wharf visionary - hands over to new boss Shobi Khan, we consider just what a residential-led future looks like

Anybody who has worked in Canary Wharf over the past 20-odd years will be in no doubt that it is first and foremost a business district. Typically, there seem to be few families, children or older people wandering around the piazzas. Most people wear office attire and the lunch hour, pre-pandemic at least, was manic with workers filling the designer shops, cafes and chain restaurants and (getting lost in) the underground maze of a shopping centre.

This financial centre, created in the largely derelict Docklands as an overspill to the City of London at the tail-end of the Thatcher years, still has a reputation as a place people commute to, work long hours in and then escape from. The streets of the glass and steel district have always been noticeably quieter at weekends.

There is now, however, a very real sense that Canary Wharf is starting a new chapter of its story as it looks towards the residential market, accelerated by a drop in demand for large office space caused by shifting work patterns, the covid-19 pandemic and Brexit.

This sense of a new era was heightened with the announcement that Sir George Iacobescu will next month stand down as chief executive of Canary Wharf Group.

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