West Silvertown

West Silvertown, Newham

This former industrial zone south of Royal Victoria Dock is moving ever more upmarket with each stage of its redevelopment

Silvertown Quays CGI vision

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 forth­com­ing Eliz­a­beth line (Cross­rail) sta­tion at Cus­tom House.

In March 2018 Star­wood Cap­i­tal and LendLease Group were report­ed to be in exclu­sive talks to buy out the rights from the con­sor­tium that devel­oped this plan. Whether the buy-out goes ahead and, if it does, whether the plan stays the same under the new own­ers (or whether it is instead cen­tred on an Indi­an ‘peace’ theme park) are just the lat­est uncer­tain­ties in a saga that has dragged on for at least eight years.

Postcode area: E16
Station: Docklands Light Railway, Woolwich Arsenal branch (zone 3)
* The London Docklands Development Corporation, a body that was frequently accused of rapacity but is beginning to look relatively benign with hindsight.