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News that the Royal Docks has reached a significant milestone in its regeneration will come as little surprise to people who live in the area.

Already, the Royal Wharf is shooting up, the London City Airport has begun its multi-million-pound upgrade, the Asian Business Park is sitting squat on the skyline and the gaggle of apartments around the Royal Albert Basin is taking shape as a significant community.

So what’s new in the Royal Docks plan?

Plans for a further £300million of investment have been unveiled by London Mayor Sadiq Khan and the new Mayor of Newham Rokhsana Fiaz. This money supports the Royal Docks Enterprise Zone – the only one of its kind in London – which helps incoming business with upfront and ongoing costs.

The money, says the Mayor, has the potential to generate 35,000 jobs, 4,000 new homes and attract a further £5billion in investment by 2037. The immediate plan has a more understandable time scale – five years. It aims to make the Docks the home of highly-skilled jobs and the beginnings of a cultural hub, which has been lacking to date.

CGI of the planned Silvertown Bridge (Image: Stanton Williams)

CGI of the planned Silvertown Bridge (Image: Stanton Williams)

What’s coming to the Royal Docks?

There’s precious little detail at the moment, with a full report promised, but the headlines include:

  • An attractive waterside residential, leisure and business district.
  • Landscaping that reflects the heritage of the area.
  • Better transport and digital connectivity.
  • Skills programmes and jobs alongside affordable workspace.

What Mayor Sadiq Khan says

‘[Today] marks a major step forward in the development of this site, which has the potential to become not only an important new business destination but also a key part of the capital’s cultural life.

‘Through these plans to attract businesses and talent into the Royal Docks, we are aiming to unlock this area’s potential to support the growth of innovative new businesses across all sectors of our economy.’

What Mayor Rokhsana Fiaz says

‘This is exciting news for Newham, placing Royal Docks as London’s new gateway to the world. This funding will bring more genuinely affordable homes, highly skilled jobs, apprenticeship opportunities for our young people and improved transport infrastructure.

The potential of this investment to improve the lives of our residents and benefit the whole of London, is great and will fully involve our local residents.’

What the London Assembly says

Shaun Bailey, Chairman of the London Assembly Regeneration Committee, said:

‘After wasted years of failure and stalled schemes, the Royal Docks site is finally receiving the attention and funding it deserves.

‘We are determined to ensure that local people and business benefit fully from any development schemes. There is a desperate need to spend the £314million wisely and effectively as possible to attract investment, jobs and visitors to the docks.

‘We hope the lessons will be learnt from the development at Canary Wharf which frankly left local people behind. The Royal Docks needs to work for all Londoners, including local communities.’

Three key questions

  1. Transport: Residents will be keen to know how transport connectivity will be improved although there will be a step-change once the Elizabeth Line is running through Custom House, bringing the City and central London so much closer.
  2. Housing: The notion of ‘affordability’ has become so tainted and useless that we’re now in the era of ‘genuine affordability’. Whether that becomes another redundant and cynical phrase like its predecessor will effectively decide whether the Royal Docks alienates or embraces the community.
  3. Culture: That promise of a cultural offering is significant. Currently the area is a housing desert interspersed with brand names – such as Excel – which draw visitors but do little for the community who would like a selection of bars, shops, cinemas etc that means they can stay in the area in the evening.