Spot­light on Royal Docks

New-homes dis­tricts for fron­tier fam­i­lies are emerg­ing along the Thames as bil­lions of pounds start the trans­for­ma­tion of E16, re­ports Anthea Masey

London Evening Standard (West End Final B) - ES Homes and Property - - Property Searching -

TAKE a walk around the Royal Docks in east Lon­don and you’ll find long, wa­ter­side stretches where you will see more planes tak­ing off and land­ing at Lon­don City air­port, and more seag­ulls, than peo­ple. In a city des­per­ate for new homes it begs the ques­tion why de­vel­op­ment took so long to ar­rive be­neath th­ese big skies on th­ese open, re­mote, aban­doned acres of wa­tery land­scape.

The Royal Docks, of­ten re­ferred to sim­ply as The Roy­als, formed the world’s largest en­closed dock. Built be­tween 1880 and 1921, the three sep­a­rate docks that com­prise the whole are the Royal Vic­to­ria, Royal Al­bert, and the King Ge­orge V, and they cover 250 acres in to­tal.

The pi­o­neer­ing res­i­dents who moved into the first new homes in The Roy­als, in­clud­ing at Wim­pey’s Bri­tan­nia Vil­lage — re­de­vel­oped as an “ur­ban vil­l­lage” in 1994 — Bar­ratt’s Bar­rier Point built in 1999 and Fairview’s Gal­lions Point built in 2003, have waited a long time to see the dots joined up and the prom­ise of The Roy­als fi­nally re­alised.

To­day, their time has come. The dig­gers and cranes are mov­ing in and al­most all of The Roy­als’ derelict land, in Lon­don’s only En­ter­prise Zone, is be­ing planned out with ma­jor busi­ness, mixed-use and land­scaped hous­ing de­vel­op­ments, in­clud­ing at Royal Wharf, Royal Al­bert Wharf, Mil­len­nium Mills and the Asian Busi­ness Port.

The first res­i­dents are al­ready mov­ing into Royal Wharf, be­tween North Wool­wich Road and the Thames next to Bar­rier Point. On one of Lon­don’s largest sin­gle build­ing sites, Bal­ly­more and its Sin­ga­porean part­ner, Ox­ley, are build­ing 3,385 new homes. This 40acre site runs along a third of a mile of the Thames.

There will be 1,500 new homes at Royal Al­bert Wharf next to Gal­lions Reach Dock­lands Light Rail­way sta­tion at the far eastern end of The Roy­als, in­clud­ing af­ford­able prop­er­ties from Not­ting Hill Hous­ing as­so­ci­a­tion.

In a ma­jor ground- cleans­ing pro­gramme some 500 tons of as­bestos has been re­moved from Mil­len­nium Mills, the derelict for­mer Spillers flour mill op­po­site the Ex­CeL ex­hi­bi­tion cen­tre and next to Bri­tan­nia Vil­lage. The old mill, one of the district’s most his­toric build­ings, is at the cen­tre of re­gen­er­a­tion by the Sil­ver­town Part­ner­ship, a joint ven­ture be­tween de­vel­op­ers Chels­field, First Base and Mac­quarie Cap­i­tal, who de­scribe their vi­sion as “the next Shored­itch”.

The old mill build­ing will re­vive the con­cept of the atelier in The Roy­als, with up to 150 pi­o­neer­ing busi­nesses able to show­case what they do. The £3.5 bil­lion scheme will also in­clude 3,000 new homes.

Ground has also been bro­ken at the Asian Busi­ness Port at Royal Al­bert Dock, the £6 bil­lion Chi­nese-fi­nanced new busi­ness district be­ing built to ri­val Ca­nary Wharf and the City on 35 acres op­po­site Lon­don City air­port, be­tween Ne­wham coun­cil of­fices and the Univer­sity of East Lon­don cam­pus.

The sign­ing of the build­ing agree­ment was wit­nessed by then-prime min­is­ter David Cameron and Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping amid much fan­fare at Man­sion House dur­ing the Chi­nese leader’s state visit in Oc­to­ber 2015.

There are also ex­cit­ing, in­no­va­tive ar­chi­tec­tural plans for a float­ing vil­lage of homes, shops, a café, a res­tau­rant and pos­si­bly even a float­ing ice rink, be­side the Emi­rates Air Line cable car ter­mi­nal at Royal Vic­to­ria Dock.

For the com­mu­nity: Amanda Fois­ter, chief ex­ec­u­tive of Royal Docks Ad­ven­ture, a char­i­ta­ble group of­fer­ing water­sports and gym fa­cil­i­ties at Royal Al­bert Dock

Le­banese cui­sine: Ali Laanizi, su­per­vi­sor at the spe­cial­ist Al Masar res­tau­rant, West­ern Gate­way, Royal Vic­to­ria Dock

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