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A Canary Wharf state of mind: an interview with Brian De’ath

Having diversified into residential projects and redeveloped 17 million square feet of office and retail space, Canary Wharf Group now owns one of London’s largest privately owned development sites. With thousands of new homes planned in East London’s business hub over the next few years, we speak to Brian De’ath, Director of Residential Sales at Canary Wharf Group, about what the future holds for the housing market in the Canary Wharf area, impact of Brexit and more…

Canary Wharf, London’s second financial district, has been diversifying into residential projects in the last few years – what are the key projects that you have been overseeing and involved in?

I have been very lucky to have been involved in both the new Wood Wharf and Southbank Place developments since joining Canary Wharf Group four years ago. These projects are our introduction to the residential sector and will set the standards as to what people should expect from us as a residential developer in the future.

What does the future hold for the housing development in Canary Wharf?

As well as the 3600 apartments at Wood Wharf we have a number of other opportunities on the existing Estate that will see us delivering homes in the local area for a great number of years to come.

Together with the increase of residential housing, the demand for public schools, surgeries, GPs and more transport links will grow accordingly. How is the Canary Wharf area going to cope with the demand? What plans are being put into place?

Our ability to manage the Estate and all of the associated uses that this entails will allow us to make sure that the growth in population is matched by a growth in services. This will see us build a new primary school, medical centre and dental surgery at Wood Wharf. With regard to transport, we are already serviced by two DLR stations, Jubilee Line and Thames Clipper River Taxi service and by the end of this year the Elizabeth Line trains will be stopping at Crossrail Place to whisk people into Central London and beyond.

Sir George Iacobescu CBE, the Chairman and CEO of the Canary Wharf Group plc said that Canary Wharf Group “wanted to create not juts a collection of buildings – but a place”. Could you tell us what does it mean for future inhabitants of the residential district? How will it translate into their day-to-day living and lifestyle?

We find that the greatest advert for the future residential district is the current Estate. We take the time to tour prospective owners around the Estate as we showcase our world class Arts and Events programme, which sees us play host to over 200 events a year; the shopping malls with over 300 shops, bars and restaurants and we highlight the management expertise currently in operation: Rather than purchasers feeling like they are taking a leap of faith; having to envisage how their new life might be lived on the new Estate, we can show them how it will grow out of the fabric of what we have already built.

Do you think Brexit will have an impact on the residential market in Canary Wharf, and London in general? What are your predictions?

Uncertainty is never a good thing in any market and Brexit has obviously created some uncertainty in the residential market. However as we are all too aware there is currently a shortage of housing in London and the right product at the right price will remain attractive. Rather than predictions though I am more interested in what is actually happening at this moment and our current experiences at One Park Drive, selling almost 300 apartments in the first nine months since launch, see us approaching 2018 in an incredibly positive frame of mind.

What is your favourite place in Canary Wharf?

On a boat in the docks touring the Estate with people who are eager to know more about Canary Wharf. I find my enthusiasm sometimes overwhelms me, as I’m so passionate about the Estate and what we are creating.

Your career in house building and development spans over 20 years – what have your highlights been so far, what are you the most proud of?

One of the most rewarding parts of my career is that I get to drive through London past buildings I have played some small part in helping to come to fruition…a small pleasure that continues to give me reason to smile when out and about in town.

What personal qualities, what does it take to “make it” in the estate sector?

An inquisitive mind coupled with a strong personal belief in what it is you are trying to achieve.

What advice do you have for young professionals looking to start their careers in the property industry?

Find a company that is willing to listen to your thoughts and ideas as well as giving you a solid grounding in the sector. If a company is unwilling to countenance new ways of thinking then it might not allow you to grow and develop leading to frustration for both parties. I suppose in short, work for the company that is the best cultural fit for you!

As Director of Residential Sales, Brian is responsible for the Group sales strategy and sales team regarding all residential developments, from Canary Wharf’s New District to its developments in central London and south bank on the Thames. Brian has led residential sales at Canary Wharf Group since September 2014. With over twenty years’ experience in the property sales industry, Brian previously worked as Executive Director of Sales and member of the Executive Board at Mount Anvil from 2008 – 2014, launching coveted developments such as The Orchard and Eagle House in central London. Brian has a Law Degree from Solent University.

If you’re looking to buy, sell, let, or rent a property in Canary Wharf, give our team a call on 020 7078 0214 or email info@kh-estates.com, and we’ll be right back to you.