Mayor says Chicago Riverwalk could inspire Barking Riverside

16 September 2016

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has today visited the Chicago Riverwalk and learnt how the scheme could provide inspiration for a huge regeneration scheme in Barking in East London.

The Chicago Riverwalk is an open, pedestrian waterfront on the south bank of the Chicago River in the heart of the city. Called Chicago’s 'Second Lakefront', the Riverwalk contains restaurants, bars and other leisure activities.

Accompanied by the Mayor of Chicago, Rahm Emanuel, Sadiq Khan learnt how the scheme has already generated more than £5bn of private sector investment and has opened up an entire new part of the city.

Construction of the Chicago Riverwalk began in 2001 and has made this part of the city a leading entertainment and leisure destination for residents and tourists. It incorporates live performances from local musicians, public art exhibitions and special events. Much of the development is complete and the final phase will extend the Riverwalk from the west side of LaSalle Street to the north side of Lake Street and is due to be open by autumn 2016.

Earlier this month, Sadiq Khan approved a major Masterplan for the Barking Riverside development that will lead to the creation of a brand new town with up to 10,000 homes – up to 50 per cent of which will be affordable – together with new schools, shops, leisure facilities, parklands, wildlife reserves, a train station and transport interchange, as well as a marina with riverboat services to and from central London.

The Mayor believes Barking Riverside has the potential to become a vibrant waterfront attraction – but only if crucial retail and leisure elements, similar to those in Chicago, are included in a wider waterfront masterplan which integrates the development with the rest of the capital.

In his first major international visit as Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan is taking the message direct to New York, Chicago and Montreal that London is open for business and is a key destination for North American investment and tourism. Over five days (14-19 September), he is making a wide range of visits and meeting senior politicians, officials and business leaders of world class cities which face similar issues, to discuss how to tackle his top priorities of regeneration, housing, social integration and growing the tech and cultural industries.

Sadiq Khan said: “The regeneration of the Chicago Riverwalk shows how it is possible to transform former industrial land into a brand new part of the city, generating millions of pounds of investment and attracting tens of thousands of visitors.

“At Barking Riverside, we have a once-in-a-lifetime chance to create a new neighbourhood along the River Thames. However, this part of the capital will only flourish if we can include the leisure opportunities to make sure that this is a fantastic place to live and to visit and not just a new housing development.

“If we can replicate some of the aspects of the Chicago Riverwalk at Barking, I am sure we can create a new neighbourhood which could become one of London’s most sought-after locations.”

Notes to editors

  • Barking Riverside is a 180 hectare site of brownfield land on the north banks of the River Thames.
  • It is owned by Barking Riverside Ltd, a joint venture between the Greater London Authority and the housing association London & Quadrant.
  • The site was historically occupied by three power stations and a large area of landfill.  Redevelopment began in the early 1990s and to date around 700 homes have built, with another 400 under construction.
  • The regeneration has been made possible by the £263 million extension of the London Overground rail service from Barking town centre into the new Riverside district, with rapid links to central London.