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Thames Estuary

The corridor either side of the Thames Estuary represents the largest concentration of Opportunity Areas in the city. It continues to be a priority for regeneration and economic development, with potential for over 250,000 new homes and 200,000 new jobs.

Development in a number of the Opportunity Areas in this corridor is coming forward at a fast pace, with significant development in the Isle of Dogs, Greenwich Peninsula and Woolwich. Others are about to benefit from new transport infrastructure, such as Barking Riverside with the extension of the Overground, and Thamesmead/Abbey Wood with the Elizabeth Line. Others are dependent on the development of infrastructure schemes in order to unlock their full potential, such as Bexley Riverside.

The Mayor has set out his vision to transform the Thames Estuary into a hub for large-scale state-of-the-art production facilities with an initial focus on creative and cultural industries. In their Local Plans, boroughs should consider how to encourage and support large-scale production facilities to create jobs, enhance the skills of local people and drive growth to benefit the area.

The Mayor will continue to work with the Thames Gateway Strategic Group, and the Thames Estuary Growth Commission, to support and promote investment in the Gateway, both within and outside London.

The lack of river crossings in the area is holding back growth and development, and the Mayor has prioritised or is exploring a number of schemes which will help to unlock and/or connect growth areas:

  • Silvertown Tunnel
  • a new river crossing linking Rotherhithe and Canary Wharf
  • an extension of the DLR across the river from Gallions Reach to Thamesmead and beyond
  • Barking Riverside to Abbey Wood London Overground crossing.

The Mayor will also support the Thames Gateway Kent Strategic Corridor by assisting boroughs in seeking a Government-led project to extend the Elizabeth Line through Bexley to north Kent.

This corridor links beyond London’s boundaries into two Strategic Infrastructure Priorities (see Figure 2.15 (6) and (7)).

Thames Estuary

Poplar Riverside OA

Poplar Riverside lies south of the Olympic Legacy Supplementary Planning Guidance area, and between the Isle of Dogs & South Poplar and Royal Docks Opportunity Areas. The new OA designation incorporates parts of the Lower Lee Valley area that are outside the Olympic SPG and LLDC areas. It contains the Poplar Riverside Housing Zone on the Tower Hamlets side of the River Lea. This has the potential for 9,000 new homes and improved connectivity in a part of the borough with significant infrastructure challenges.

The OA crosses the boundary of the River Lea into the London Borough of Newham, where there are opportunities to provide both intensified employment uses and residential development. Cross-boundary working is required to maximise investment of the Housing Zone funding and the development potential of upgrades to Canning Town station and the arrival of the Elizabeth Line at Custom House. Significant local transport improvements are needed to allow better pedestrian and cycle accessibility over the River Lea via footbridges and to remove the severance effect of major infrastructure such as DLR lines and the A12 at Gillender Street.

Royal Docks OA

This area sits at the heart of the Thames Gateway presenting one of the largest regeneration opportunities in London. It benefits from the presence of important existing industry and attractors such as ExCEL and City Airport, and will soon see an Elizabeth Line station at Custom House. The Royal Docks will become a vibrant new London quarter, creating a world-class business, industrial, cultural and residential district. Key to delivering this will be ensuring high-quality development with new infrastructure, homes and workspaces, including creative cultural, evening and night-time economy uses, in recognition of the Mayor’s aspiration for a Thames Estuary Production Corridor for culture and creative industries.

Significant housing-led mixed-use developments have already been completed or are underway, such as Royal Wharf, Barrier Park East, Gallions Quarter and Great Eastern Quays. The consented major new mixed-use schemes at Advanced Business Parks (London) and Silvertown Quay will contribute to the transformation of the area.

The Mayor has established the Royal Docks Delivery Team to guide development of the Enterprise Zone and surrounding Opportunity Area. The area contains a number of safeguarded wharves, and there is a continuing need to retain wharf capacity. The Planning Framework should set out how wharves could be consolidated to deliver more effective and efficient industrial uses alongside residential/mixed use. The area has significant areas of SIL and recent evidence confirms that there is a continued demand for industrial space in the east of London. The Planning Framework should ensure industrial capacity is managed in ways that reduce overall vacancy rates and support the intensification of industrial, logistics and commercial uses so that they continue to form part of the overall mix of uses in the area.

The Planning Framework should also set out how to manage the opportunities for mixed-use development at Canning Town/West Ham, and Thameside West where there is or will be excellent public transport connectivity. At Beckton Riverside de-commissioning of the gasholders together with a new DLR station provides an opportunity to deliver waterside residential-led mixed-use development. New residential development here will support the evolution of Gallions Shopping Centre, which has the potential to become a designated town centre. The Planning Framework should set out how new development can accommodate an extension of the DLR across the river to Thamesmead.

The DLR provides the key transport links through the area, and Beckton Depot will be retained and expanded to support the upgrade of the DLR fleet.

Thamesmead and Abbey Wood OA

Housing Zone status and investment by Peabody in estate renewal in the area will improve the quality of the environment and bring new housing opportunities. To deliver wider regeneration benefits to Thamesmead, other interventions to support the growth of the Opportunity Area are needed. These include: the redevelopment and intensification of employment sites to enable a range of new activities and workspaces to be created in parallel with new housing development; a review of open space provision in the area to create better quality, publicly accessible open spaces; the creation of a new local centre around Abbey Wood station, the revitalisation of Thamesmead town centre and Plumstead High Street; and improved local transit connections. The Planning Framework should ensure that there is no net loss of industrial floorspace capacity.

Alongside the opening of the Elizabeth Line in December 2018, major investments in transport infrastructure such as the proposed DLR extension from Gallions Reach are also needed to support high density development and provide access to areas of significant employment growth, such as the Royal Docks for existing and new residents of Thamesmead. To accommodate the expected growth in the area, utility infrastructure - in particular water and electricity supply, broadband and a local heat network - should be upgraded and/or planned for accordingly. In view of the low-lying nature of parts of the area, particular attention should also be given to flood risk management.

Bexley Riverside OA

The Bexley Riverside OA stretches along the south side of the Thames and includes the areas of Belvedere, Erith, Slade Green and Crayford. Future improvements to accessibility through better services on the existing transport network, and the extension of the Elizabeth Line to Slade Green and beyond, offer the opportunity for significant redevelopment around the stations. The Mayor will support the borough and the adjoining Kent authorities in seeking a Government-led extension of the Elizabeth Line. In the interim, within London, the Planning Framework should explore the level of growth that could be supported through significantly enhanced bus services and priority measures.

Industrial and logistics uses will continue to play a significant role in the area. The Planning Framework should ensure that there is no net loss of industrial floorspace capacity, and that industrial uses are retained and intensified, and form part of the mix in redevelopment proposals.