Property company based in Singapore buys St Katharine Docks in Wapping for £395 million

Though Tower Hamlets Council are supportive of inward investment, it is not known what the new owners will do with St. Katharine Docks which can accommodate up to 185 yachts.

A property company based in Singapore has bought an iconic marina in East London for  £395 million.

City Developments Limited (CDL) confirmed the purchase of St Katharine Docks, which sits on the River Thames in Tower Hamlets on Thursday (March 9).

The multi-billion pound company is chaired by Singaporean billionaire Kwek Leng Beng, and his son Sherman has been the chief executive since 2018. 

CDL, which also owns two other properties in the City of London, will be taking over the 23-acre site from US-based Blackstone, which is one of the largest real estate investors in the world.

Formerly opened in 1828, St Katharine Docks originally had warehouses on either side and was the last of London’s wet docks to be built.

The area was known for selling luxurious goods such as shells, feathers, ivory, tea and wool.

However, during the Second World War, the docks were badly damaged by the Blitz and eventually closed in the late 1960s.

By the 1970s and 1980s, the docks were transformed into a multi-use site and became the first regeneration project as part of London Docklands.

The former London docks are now a popular hub complete with restaurants, offices, shops and an attractive marina which can accommodate up to 185 yachts, and it’s all just a few minutes from World Heritage Sites, The Tower of London and Tower Bridge. 

Sherman Kwek, the chief executive of CDL said: “The current uncertainty in the UK has provided us with strategic opportunities to acquire prime assets and expand our portfolio.

“This latest acquisition of the sizeable St Katharine Docks freehold estate, one of London’s trophy landmarks, increases CDL’s total commercial assets in the UK to around £1 billion and enhances our recurring income stream.”

He added: “It complements our fund management strategy, providing us with the option to inject our UK assets into listed or unlisted platforms at an opportune time.

“In addition, there are ample asset management opportunities for us to demonstrate our ability to enhance value and improve operational efficiency.”

However, Cllr Kabir Ahmed, cabinet member for regeneration, inclusive development and housebuilding at Tower Hamlets Council has some concerns over the future of St Katharine Docks.

Cllr Ahmed said: “We don’t yet know what the new owners of St Katharine Docks plan to do with it, and we don’t want to pre-empt too much.

“While we’re very supportive of inward investment in Tower Hamlets, we are concerned that, too often in East and wider London, regeneration is synonymous with gentrification.”

He added: “Our priorities are to provide social housing and community and recreational space for our residents, to protect and promote small businesses and market traders.

“Our ambition is that investment into the borough respects and complements those goals.”

CDL has been contacted by the Local Democracy Reporting Service for further comment.

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