Ikea's Building an Entire Neighbourhood in East London. I Wonder If It Comes Flat-Packed?

By Sam Gibbs on at

Put away your allen keys; apparently Ikea’s new east London development, Strand East, won’t be a do-it-yourself flat-pack job. It’s taking a large strip of derelict docklands and is turning it into Ikea-land, where Ikea is your landlord.

It seems a pretty strange thing for a furniture manufacturer to do, but apparently it's fairly normal in non-native English-speaking Western Europe. Ikea has recently used its property arm, LandProp, which bought quite a large section of East London in 2009, to submit its plans for the development. It’s not too far away from the site of the Olympics, but Strand East isn’t another London Games project; it’s something different entirely.

Ikea’s aiming to build a managed neighbourhood of some 1,200 houses and flats, with 40 per cent of it suitable for families with three-bedrooms or more. Unlike most developments out that way, it’ll resemble a modern interpretation of central London with town houses intermixed with mews houses and flats. It’ll also apparently come packing underground parking, removing cars from the streets (handy for the next London riots), while flower stalls and markets will be encouraged to set up shop.

The strangest thing about the whole thing, though, has to be the fact that Ikea will be your landlord. In fact, you won’t be able to buy any of these homes, just rent them. Ikea will also attempt to create a community within the neighbourhood using organised community-building events and by ejecting those that become a social "problem." That doesn’t mean these will all be high-priced either – Ikea promises “affordable” rents for mere mortals.

Apparently the houses won’t all be filled with Ikea furniture as you might expect either, but the whole project will conform to the Ikea vision. It sounds a lot like one massive Ikea store to me, but the Swedes insist that won’t be the case.

I like Ikea furniture as much as the next man. It doesn’t cost an arm and a leg; you can get it into a small flat because it's flat-packed, and it doesn’t look horrendous; but a whole Ikea house? I’m not so sure. That’d have to be something I saw in the flesh before hitting the order button.

Ikea’s waiting on planning permission before getting started, but you can see what it’s got planned right now by visiting its Strand East site. You can even sign-up for updates, if living in Ikea-land sounds like your cup of tea. [Strand EastThe Globe and Mail via Buzz Feed]