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New partnership paves way for major docklands apartment scheme

Like other parts of London's docklands, the Royal Docks in Silvertown have undergone considerable development in the last 30 years, but more is now on the way.

An area that already includes London City Airport and the ExCel exhibition centre - also known as the London International Events Centre (LIEC) - the southern terminus for the Emirates cable car and the Docklands Light railway is now being increasingly developed for residential use, part of a growing trend for new developments to be built along the riverside in east London. This side of the capital is expected to absorb the bulk of the capital's population growth as it gradually becomes a megacity, on course to be home to ten million people by the 2030s.

Developer and contractor Mount Anvil has already established itself as a presence in the area with the Royal Docks West project. This scheme received planning permission in February and will feature 105 new homes, of which 26 will be classed as affordable for key workers. 

Now it has joined forces with ExCel owner the Abu Dhabi National Exhibitions Company, with the plan being to develop the land around the arena. The development of this land will provide up to 1,000 new apartments. 

Discussing the agreement, ExCel’s chief financial officer Phil Dowson said: "We are thrilled to be working in partnership with Mount Anvil to deliver this exciting project, given the company’s strong track record for working collaboratively to create design-led schemes that will benefit London now and in years to come."

The agreement was also enthusiastically greeted by Mount Anvil’s chief executive Killian Hurley. She said: "We are delighted to have formed this joint venture partnership with LIEC, and believe that working together we can deliver a high-quality legacy development.

"We are developing a compelling design, which we will continue to evolve in partnership with LIEC, London Borough Of Newham and the Greater London Authority, and stakeholders in this area."

The partnership will provide plenty of construction jobs over the next couple of years, with an abundant workload beyond that for insulation fitters and plumbers. Indeed, the waterproofing aspect may be important for those homes closest to the water, as the area is one where levels on the Thames need to be carefully managed. Much of it lies immediately downstream of the Thames Flood Barrier.

Silvertown is certainly a busy area for development just now. The growth of the area is being enhanced by its increased connectivity due to the imminent arrival of Crossrail, which will have a station at Custom House next door to the ExCel centre. In addition, road access is set to be improved with the construction of the Silvertown Tunnel, which will cross from North Greenwich and ease access for traffic crossing the river in the east of the capital, where the current lack of bridges and tunnels from one side to another is a major issue. 

Other areas where significant riverside developments are taking place include Canary Wharf - where the plethora of commercial skyscrapers is now being complemented by an ever-increasing collection of residential ones - and the Barking Riverside development. In the latter case, a new suburb of 10,000 homes is being developed at the site once occupied by the Barking Power Station. On the south side, plans were recently unveiled to develop the area around the riverside in Charlton, immediately across the river from Silvertown.