Canary Wharf has been a beacon for the regeneration of the former London docklands over the last 40 years or so. So, it is easy to overlook the fact that, further east, there are significant tracts of land with regeneration and development potential. In this report we will look particularly at the Silvertown area.
Silvertown is around 3 miles east of Canary Wharf. It occupies the south western corner of the wider Royal Docks area and is within the London Borough of Newham. The Royal Docks is something of a hotspot for current and future development with potential to supply a substantial portion of London’s future demand for housing and employment space. It is also London’s only Enterprise Zone.
Redevelopment of the Royal Docks area, once the world’s largest area of dockland, has been a fairly drawn-out process. The docks themselves finally closed in the early 1980s and many buildings were subsequently demolished. There has been some significant development since then and key projects include London City Airport and the ExCel London exhibition centre. Alongside this sits several old industrial sites, newer business parks, older industrial housing and more recent new build housing developments. More recently, the Greater London Authority’s City Hall has relocated to the area from its prime central London site, and this might help raise the profile of the area.
Further development of the wider Royal Docks area is underway. The Royal Docks is said to be the Mayor of London’s largest land-led regeneration project, with over 430 acres of land in GLA ownership. The area consists of over 1,200 acres of land, with 250 acres of water and 12 miles of waterfront. It is anticipated that over £8bn will be invested here to provide over 30,000 new homes plus space to provide 41,500 new jobs over 20 years or so. To put that in context, it is estimated that around 120,000 people work at Canary Wharf.
Now let us look more closely at what is happening, and what is planned, for Silvertown. Although being some distance from the City of London (5 miles) and West End, which has perhaps hampered development in the past, Silvertown is very well connected. London City Airport is literally on its doorstep. The airport has recently relaunched its expansion plans, which were suspended due to Covid, with a consultation having been conducted this summer. The airport is planning to increase annual passenger capacity from 6.5m to 9m.