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 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.
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.