Just weeks after mayor Boris Johnson revealed his City in the East masterplan, two major projects have cleared planning, giving impetus to the sense that the centre of the capital is heading east.
Mayor Johnson has approved the revised masterplan for the Greenwich Peninsula, while developer Berkeley Homes has been picked to develop the Parcelforce depot in Newham, adding 3,500 homes, a school and retail space.
The City in the East masterplan was revealed in late October, creating an all encompassing framework for development in a patch of the capital that spreads from London Bridge in the west, to Ilford and Dartford in the east.
“East London is already enjoying incredible growth and the ‘City in the East’ plans reflect how we make the area an even better place to live and work over the next 20 years,” said Johnson. “This blueprint reflects identified areas of land in London to build on and it will allow us to co-ordinate not only housing and commercial developments, but significant transport infrastructure to ensure this part of the capital can continue to flourish with hundreds of thousands of new jobs that will help the capital to remain the best big city in the world.”
Infrastructure improvements include the extension of the London Overground to Barking Riverside, a commitment recently funded by the chancellor in his autumn statement; and the potential of putting the A13 in a tunnel.
Altogether, the sites identified suggest the potential for the delivery of more than 200,000 homes over the next 20 years. Thirteen zones have been identified, where development could take place.
And one of those zones is Greenwich Peninsula, where a revised masterplan has been approved for an 80ha site, which had previously been subject of a stalled development. The new masterplan was granted outline permission by Greenwich borough in August, and already developer Knight Dragon has begun work developing further homes on the site.
The masterplan includes around 12,500 homes on the former gasworks site, in a new district containing five neighbourhood zones. There will be 20,000 sq m of retail and 60,000 sq m of business space, two new schools and two hotels, a film studio and visitor attraction.
Councillor Danny Thorpe, cabinet member for regeneration and transport at Greenwich, said: “The council has long held a vision to make the most of the huge potential offered by the Greenwich Peninsula. The approval of this planning application makes it one of the most exciting developments in London, bringing huge long-term regeneration benefits to the Peninsula and cementing it as a new district for London.”
“We are particularly proud that, at a time of critical housing shortage, this development will deliver so many affordable homes, of which more than two-thirds will be for social rent, at no more than 50 per cent of market rent.”
The new masterplan provides significantly more residential units than the previous 2004 plan, which did not make it to completion. It also includes a number of tower residential tower blocks up to 40 storeys high. Greenwich council leader Denise Hyland noted that these will be on the north end of the site, facing even taller towers across the river at Canary Wharf.
In Newham, Berkeley Homes has been selected to take forward a major regeneration project, transforming a 10ha former Parcelforce site. The project, which has yet to secure planning approvals, is intended to include a new school and green space, and local shops. Around 3,500 homes are planned, of which more than 1,200 will be affordable and there will be a significant proportion of shared ownership and private rental properties.
“This huge chunk of disused land will be put to the best possible use, creating a whole new neighbourhood,” said Johnson. “This ambitious development will help to further the continuing transformation of east London as part of our Olympic legacy.”
Berkeley was selected from a shortlist of four developers, chosen by the London Development Panel procurement process. With planning scheduled for next year, it is hoped work will start in 2017.
The site was acquired by the London Development Agency in 2004, and was used for temporary relocations for activities displaced by the Olympics, before being cleared for redevelopment.
LPA Perspective: The delivery of the Olympics really moved minds – as well as a lot of soil. Doing away with the messy industry that filled much of the Olympic Park created a whole bunch of new opportunities, and has given impetus to the development of many areas. Johnson’s aspirational list includes sites that are live, plus those that are part of medium and longer term aspirations.
But the numbers on a sheet are one thing, delivering places where people actually want to live is quite another. Greenwich has just approved a controversial update to the original masterplan for the windswept surroundings of the O2 dome, which will see far more density with homes in a series of tall towers. Maybe London has moved on, and a home in the sky is what more and more Londoners want; perhaps it is all they can afford.
However, infrastructure remains a key consideration wherever these new homes are to be built, and jobs are promised. Unless new roads, and new river crossings, are added, then travelling in the City in the East will be a nightmare. Already, those who go to concerts at the O2 complain about poor transport; with thousands more living on the Peninsula, better connections will be needed.