West Silvertown, Newham
This former industrial zone south of Royal Victoria Dock is moving ever more upmarket with each stage of its redevelopment
From the mid-19th century until the early 1980s riverside factories and quayside warehousing occupied the former marshes here. Since the closure of most of the industrial premises this side of Silvertown has been undergoing (or expecting to undergo) extensive regeneration.
Laughable as this may now seem given the value of the real estate, whole chunks of Docklands were set aside in the late 20th century for the construction of homes for people of average or below average means. Here in West Silvertown the LDDC* sponsored the creation of Britannia Village, a ‘self-supporting community’ with housing of modest architectural standards. Britannia Village primary school opened in 1999 on a site facing the village green.
Thames Barrier Park was completed in 2000 and boasts one of the most distinctive public gardens created in London in recent decades. The park is flanked by apartment blocks built by Barratt at the same time: Barrier Point and Tradewinds. West Silvertown station opened in 2005.
In the vicinity of Pontoon Dock, 62 acres of derelict land is (perhaps) to be regenerated as “London’s new creative capital”, as shown in the CGI visualisation above. Unable to find inspiration in London, the developers turned to New York for ideas – and propose to create a Docklands version of Manhattan’s Meatpacking District (not during its countercultural phase but its more recent upscale transformation). In addition to up to 3,000 homes, there will of course be a new public space, restaurants and other leisure facilities – and there may be a retail zone that consists of so-called ‘brand pavilions’ that are more interactive exhibitions than shops. The proposals also include a new bridge across the Royal Victoria Dock to connect The Silvertown (as they want to call it) with the Elizabeth line (Crossrail) station at Custom House.
In 2018 the Silvertown Partnership, consisting of Starwood Capital and LendLease Group, bought out the rights from the consortium that developed this plan. In June 2020 £105m of loan funding from the government’s Home Building Fund was allocated to the partnership for investment that should accelerate the construction of the new homes at Silvertown Quays. The funding will tackle high up-front infrastructure costs, restoring Millennium Mills and dock walls, which had previously been a barrier to progress with the scheme.
Meanwhile, plans are much more advanced in the area between Lyle Park and Thames Barrier Park, where an urban village called Royal Wharf – which has also been described as a whole new town – is under development.