London: Land of the Rising Sun (Part 1)

It may not seem it to those of us waiting anxiously for the refurbishment of The Talbot or bemoaning the state of Brockley Road, but London's future lies in the East.

Caitlin Moran puts it neatly in today's Times, so we don't have to:

"The events of Man are rendered neither as thunderclaps nor inviolable calendar entries. Instead they are more like a mist from which you can hear the odd voice saying: “Oh wow - the Industrial Revolution! How long has that been going on? I always miss the start of these things.”

In London's case, an eastward march began properly back sometime around 2000, when new commcercial lettings at Canary Wharf spiked. At the time, everyone was too worried about the Dome's shoddy contents and the spiralling cost of the the Jubilee line to notice.

Global financial meldown notwithstanding, Canary Wharf's future is bright. Its role as the centre of London's banking sector was assured earlier this year when JP Morgan gave up on trying to find a home in the City and plumped for Riverside South in Canary Wharf. This move not only triggers the construction of the UK's largest new office development, it has also hastened the arrival of a cluster of other major new projects, from another giant office complex at Heron Quays West to mixed-use schemes such as City Pride and the Great Eastern Enterprise site. Most excitingly, a masterplan for Wood Wharf will produce a proper waterfront development over the next ten years. The Wharf has brought a critical mass of employment and economic vibrancy to East London, forcing millions of Londoners to re-examine their maps. This is slowly bringing with it a cultural trickle down.

The success of Canary Wharf is dragging infrastructure priorities East too. The expansion of the DLR and capacity on the Jubilee Line would not have happened without it. It's also arguable that Crossrail would not have been approved without the need to keep pace with an expanding Canary Wharf.

Peversely, the rise of Canary Wharf also heralds the rebirth of the City. Belatedly, the Corporation of London has realised that it cannot compete with the huge floorplates on offer in Docklands and prized by big banks. Instead, their focus is now on a more winnable battle with the West End, which has poached many of the Private Equity houses and Hedge Funds, attracted by the high quality of the environment on offer in places like Mayfair. Rather than trying to squeeze unsuitably large buildings on to a medieval street pattern, the City of London is trying to create new public spaces, roof gardens and shopping streets. This means that the East London Line will alight near places like a rejuvenated Cheapside, which is being returned to its roots as London's first high street.

None of this is to say that the west won't still dominate London life, but that the balance of London life is slowly and inexorably shifting eastwards, with similarly transformative projects underway at Greenwich Peninsula, the Olympic Park and Stratford City.

So what is the point of all this, other than to say that those in Brockley with long enough attention and life spans will have their patience rewarded with a few more places to visit on the East London Line? We'll come to that in part two.