Investments in Infrastructure Open Up East London Development Opportunities

East London is an interesting market that’s rightly garnering a lot of interest, with significant funding boosts and thousands of homes already in the pipeline.

East London is an interesting market that’s rightly garnering a lot of interest. The allocation of an additional £500m to the Housing Infrastructure Fund (HIF) in October’s Autumn Budget hinted at its importance, with over half of the new funding (£291m)[1] committed to improving the DLR with the intention of supporting the delivery of 19,000 new homes in East London[2].

The Isle of Dogs and Royal Docks had previously been defined as an Opportunity Area (brownfield sites with significant capacity for development) by the Mayor’s Office. The benefits of Crossrail to the area in general have been well documented; prices in Bexley and Greenwich rose 72.6% and 59.4% respectively over the past nine years[3]. With further expansion planned for the Elizabeth Line and a Crossrail Station at Canary Wharf, improved transport links are making the area more attractive to Londoners.

Landmark Pinnacle, currently under construction on the waterfront at Canary Wharf, will be the tallest residential building in Europe. LBS Properties have recently secured planning for a 332-unit mixed-use scheme in Marsh Wall[4], and Ballymore’s proposed £1bn Millharbour Quarter is rumoured to have attracted significant foreign investment[5]. Nearby Poplar will be unrecognisable in a few years, with the bulldozers set to roll on a project pipeline that includes 3,000 new flats and a host of commercial properties.

With further expansion planned for the Elizabeth Line and a Crossrail Station at Canary Wharf, improved transport links are making the area more attractive to Londoners.

A submission by the Greater London Authority to HIF suggests that the additional £291m funding for the DLR could be used to build a new station at Thames Wharf and purchase an additional 14 trains[6].  Situated between Canning Town and Silvertown, the area is currently a mix of light commercial and brownfield sites and it’s estimated the funding could deliver as many as 5,000 new homes. The deadline for spending the HIF funds is 2023[7], meaning construction of homes will likely begin a year later, after the station is delivered (assuming the land will be needed to support DLR construction and road developments).

Despite these plans, there are still brownfield sites with huge potential in the area currently let down by transport links. Tripcock Point, adjacent to Thamesmead, is one such site. Peabody Housing Association and Greenwich Council have been campaigning for a DLR extension to Thamesmead, and have planning to deliver just under 20,000 homes there[8]. Whether the new HIF funding will stretch to include this second station remains to be seen but if it isn’t facilitated in this fund, surely provisions will have to be made sooner rather than later?

Whether the new HIF funding will stretch to include this second station remains to be seen but if it isn’t facilitated in this fund, surely provisions will have to be made sooner rather than later?

A lecturer of mine used to say if an area had three or more cranes in the sky, the market was on track to be overdeveloped. However, the Isle of Dogs and Royal Docks might just be the exception to that rule. The Opportunity Area is certainly set to see its fair share of cranes, but there remains huge scope for development – particularly housing. The Chancellor’s commitment to improving the DLR was significant and will help to open up areas currently subject to intense development pressure. Between the new station at Thames Wharf and the pending Elizabeth line, we’re likely to see more East London areas primed for development.

References

[1] 2018. Policy Paper: Budget 2018. HM Treasury.

[2] 2018. Budget 2018: Philip Hammond’s speech. HM Treasury.

[3] 2018. ReAlyse Data. 

[4] 2018. LBS Properties win appeal for new 48-storey mixed-use London development. Development Finance Today.

[5] 2018. Kwoks and Ballymore in £1bn Canary Wharf residential push. Estates Gazette.

[6] 2018, 17 October. London Assembly Budget Monitoring Sub-Committee –

Wednesday, 17 October 2018. Transcript of Item 7 – Housing Infrastructure Fund. Public Record.

[7] 2018. MD2355 Housing Infrastructure Fund – Forward Funding. Mayor of London.

[8] 2018. Larger Associations can deliver placemaking at scale. Brendan Sarsfield, Chief Exec of Peabody for Inside Housing.

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