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A New Angle on London's Regeneration

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With the Shard's new viewing gallery opening, I took the opportunity to see how London's regeneration is looking from 72 storeys up.

The photos in this post show a new view of some familiar development sites and regeneration areas. Some buildings almost complete, others still in planning, and many that I'm delighted to have had the privilege to be involved in.

The view above shows the Upper Pool, the stretch of Thames by Tower Bridge that was once London's port. I think this has now become my new favourite view of London, and I'll move clockwise to return here at the end.

Looking down, the rail tracks heading out of London Bridge Station below lead your eye towards Millwall FC's New Den, next to the SELCHP energy from waste station. This is the location for the unusual and ambitious Surrey Canal proposals, including the biggest collection of new sporting venues outside Stratford, and 2,500 homes up to 26 storeys high. This is a view that could change dramatically and I would love to come back and take an "after" shot.

Looking South the distinctive Strata tower marks out Elephant and Castle. Lend Lease now have permission for the St Mary's tower which will be just to the right of Strata and will include 284 homes and a new leisure centre. Just to the left of Strata, the distinctive blocks of the Heygate Estate will be replaced by 2,500 new homes and open space in a long-awaited transformation of the area. Another view definitely worth coming back to photograph again as it progresses.

Swinging round to the South West, with the late afternoon sun behind it is the Vauxhall Nine Elms Battersea opportunity area. A lot of new building is already visible here, including St George Wharf Tower, but even more is planned, such as the new US Embassy, and surrounding the iconic Battersea Power Station where £600m of phase 1 apartments were said to have been sold in just four days last month by the site's new Malaysian owners. This view may need a series of photos as it is set to continue to change dramatically for many years.

Looking down, at the foot of the Shard, is the famous Borough Market, underneath a triangle of railways. The clean grey line cutting through is the (as-yet unused) new track bed for what was once optimistically called Thameslink 2000. When it finally opens, 18 years after the millennium, it will allow 24 trains per hour through central London, interchanging with Crossrail at Farringdon, and no-doubt stimulate further development along its route, within and beyond central London. At the bottom of the picture you can see the glass roof of the new Borough Market hall, built to replace what was lost by the construction.

Looking up along those same railway tracks leads you to another cluster of development sites. In the shadow of the London Eye, alongside Waterloo Station is Elizabeth House, where Chelsfield and London & Regional have recently received permission for a major new office building where more than 8,000 people will work. Meanwhile Canary Wharf Group and Qatari Diar are preparing a mixed use scheme at the Shell Centre, just across the road, including up to 790 new homes. The Waterloo area has had so much promise for so long, but despite its central location it has been many years since it has seen this level of activity, and it now promises a real transformation.

I like this photo, partly because it brings back memories of working in Centre Point (a great desk-with-a-view), itself now facing a possible new future as high-end residential. At its foot a huge crane rises from the Tottenham Court Road Crossrail station site, one of a number of major Crossrail related developments in central London right now. In front of Centre Point is the colourful Central St Giles, completed in 2010 - architect Renzo Piano's first UK building is seen here from the top of his most recent one. And catching the sun hazily in the background is a striking new angle on the Wembley Stadium arch, another part of London where many new developments are planned.

Swinging on round to the north is one of the views I'd anticipated most, but which perhaps rather disappointed. The towers of the City of London look less impressive from above (and this is of course one of the few places in London where you can't see the Shard itself!). But also much of the latest activity - the "Walkie Talkie" tower, the Heron Tower and the "Cheese Grater", seem to line up and obscure each other from this angle. It shows how much the city is changing into a genuine cluster of tall buildings, but there are better places to admire that view than here.

Next to the City are many sites planned for development. This shot shows the long low sheds of the former News International printworks, towards the top of the frame, now the location for St George's London Dock development.

The new E20 postcode has the Athlete's Village at its heart, with an avenue down the centre that provides one of London's most neatly framed views of the Shard. Around it the new districts of Eastwick, Chobham Manor and Sweetwater will have thousands of new homes.

The view to the Olympic Stadium and Orbit tower was rather hazy, but shows an area that has changed more than anywhere. Behind it is the phenomenally successful Westfield Stratford City, and to the right is the town centre where many more proposals are now coming through, as well as the planned new residential areas of Marshgate Wharf and Pudding Mill.

This is a great new angle on Canary Wharf and the Isle of Dogs, a hot area for development still. Some of what is planned will be obscured in this view - Wood Wharf, Greenwich Peninsula and Silvertown, for example. But the foreground will also see new towers, perhaps including one (the City Pride site), with a proposal that would be taller than One Canada Square itself. Seeing this photo what strikes me most is how tiny the yellow wedge of the Cascades apartment block seems now, when I recall how impossibly ambitious it looked when it stood alone, 25 years ago.

Finally, completing the circle, but looking down this time, we see City Hall, and the construction of Berkeley Homes' One Tower Bridge by Potters Fields.

The view from the Shard is a great new perspective on London, and a trip to the top is well worth considering if you want to take in how much is still happening, despite the economic problems. I hope you have enjoyed this tour and please do share your own pictures. I'm looking forward to going back there in the future to update some of these shots as London continues to grow.

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