While low-lying countries like the Netherlands build new floating homes to prepare for rising sea levels, the first floating neighborhood in the U.K. was built for other reasons: The city is running out of places for people to live.
"With demand for new homes in London soaring, we need to put every scrap of available land to the best possible use," says Richard Blakeway, the city's deputy mayor for housing, land and property. In response, the city is developing the area around some former dockyards in East London—including both land and water property.
Experts from the Netherlands are helping to plan the new "floating village," which will include 50 floating homes around a neighborhood square made of water, along with floating restaurants, offices, and shops, and possibly a floating swimming pool. A floating walkway will lead back to land, where the city plans a much larger development with tens of thousands of new homes.
Earlier in its history, the area, known as the Royal Docks, served hundreds of cargo and passenger ships each day. The three docks were the largest enclosed docks in the world—the area of the water alone is 250 acres, and the land is more than 1,000 acres—and they got more use than any other port in London. But they haven't been in use for the last several decades, and that's why the city wants to transform the area.
"Tens of thousands of new homes, workspace, leisure, and cultural facilities are being developed . . . The ‘Floating Village’ will be yet another draw, restoring London’s docklands to their former glory as a centre of enterprise and bringing jobs, growth, homes and visitors," says Blakeway.