Making a city in the east

Thursday 22 October 2015

The GLA took a significant step in helping east London ease the capital’s housing woes this morning as it launched its City in the East masterplan and London Riverside OAPF.

Speaking at the NLA, chief of staff and deputy mayor, policy and planning at the authority Sir Edward Lister said that whilst it might have been okay in the Abercrombie Plan to view the east as ‘fundamentally Essex’ and ‘another place entirely’ it was now time to give it full recognition with a plan that might see 200,000 homes, 250,000 jobs and 600,000 people come to the wider area.

A major thrust of this will be to try and secure a switch from land given over to industrial uses, currently ‘pepper-potted’ across the area, to residential or at least mixed use. And where once this area was thought to have enough capacity to become another ‘Clacton’, it will now be of the order of a Glasgow and, perhaps by the next iteration, a Scotland, said Lister. ‘It is real – this isn’t just what might happen’, he added. ‘A lot of it is underway’. That includes Ontario Point at Canada Water, Convoys Wharf and Greenwich Peninsula, the last of which is evidence of clear change on the ground. Other major schemes included Silvertown Quays, Royal Wharf and the ‘important ingredient’ of Barking Riverside, where housing is going up that is ‘at least more affordable than in much of London.’ But during questions Lister challenged the construction industry to adopt new ways of working including more prefabrication in the general push to build more housing: ‘Guys, you have got to start thinking about alternative ways of building’, he said.

LB Barking and Dagenham leader Councillor Darren Rodwell said with London moving eastward, his patch would be the ‘centre of London at some point’. ‘We are the secret you never knew you had’ he said.  While the area has the biggest landholdings of industrial land in the capital, we need to have a new concept about what industrial is, he said, but with projects like the 10,500 home Barking Riverside underway, there is the political will to bring more in addition to Home Zone areas like Barking Town Centre.  The riverside section needs culture and the arts as well as other infrastructure, however, as well as places for recreation, he said. ‘We must have green spaces’, said Rodwell, ‘I do not believe in concrete jungles.’

LB Havering’s head of regulatory services Patrick Keyes said a similar transformation was underway in his area, with the Rainham and Beam Park Housing Zone putting it on the map and the plan giving developers confidence. And TFL’s director of borough planning Alex Williams said with the scale of growth hitting London – six new residents every hour, a car load every 40 minutes, two buses’ worth every day or two tube trains full every week - transport too needed to keep pace with change and unlock more growth. Plans are afoot to look at increasing the number of river crossings in the east as well as a Crossrail 1 extension east of Abbey Wood and eastern spur to Crossrail 2.

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