Why Canary Wharf will never flood - it's not what you think

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Everyone has seen the pictures.

In case there were ever any doubt, Canary Wharf is on the Thames' flood plain...

Canary Wharf flood plain

Source: The Environment Agency 

The City, on the other hand, is not...


So, would you rather live in Islington and commute into Goldman Sachs, or live in Limehouse and commute into Citigroup?

If you went for the first option, you have chosen the wrong answer. Canary Wharf is actually less likely to flood than the City, says a spokesman for the Canary Wharf Group. He also says that the Group is contesting all the recent images suggesting that the Wharf is a flood risk (see above - these images date back to 2009, but are a clearer illustration of those that have been circulating recently...).

What makes Canary Wharf so impermeable? Is it the Thames Barrier? Partly. But this is not the killer app. What really makes Canary Wharf special is that all its buildings have been built tens of feet up in the air.

"The buildings you see which appear to be at ground level are actually at roof level," explains the spokesman. "They're actually higher than most of London and higher than many parts of the City.

"You can see this when you drive into Canary Wharf," he adds. "You drive up a ramp and the buildings are situated at the top of this ramp. Canary Wharf is a roof garden. The buildings are elevated and beneath them are the car parks."

If there were a flood, only these car parks would be affected, he says.

What about the new 'Riverside South Towers' project developed by JPMorgan, which raised queries back in 2003, when developers said the proposed buildings needed to be moved back from the river to mitigate the risk of fluvial abundance? "They got the permission, so that will have been taken into account," says the spokesman. "Canary Wharf is not at risk of flooding," he adds, emphatically.


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