Since 2000, the Greater London Authority (GLA) has played a key role in steering metropolitan level strategy in sectors such as transport, the environment and economic development. One of the key innovations coming out of the GLA, is its integration of economic and social strategies through a spatial planning approach, mapping out where growth and investment should occur and where economic sectors would most likely become more competitive. From the outset, the Royal Docks were seen as a key part of an eastward growth corridor that had the necessary amount of brownfield land to accommodate new growth in the city. Beyond the market demand, what prevented the development of the area was the lack of transport and social infrastructure to transform the site from what used to be one of the world’s bustling dock areas to a liveable part of the city. It is not surprising that without this infrastructure investment successive government agencies such as the London Docklands Development Corporation, English Partnerships and the London Development Agency have, since the 1980’s, been unsuccessful in kick starting development. Could the GLA finally change this?
In 2012, the Mayor in collaboration with Newham Council published a strategy for the area that coincided with the establishment of London’s only Enterprise Zone, to be managed by the London Enterprise Panel (LEP). Enterprize Zone status gave the Royal Docks a unique opportunity to retain future business rates from current and new occupants for a period of 25 years. This would ultimately provide up to £400 million for upfront infrastructure investment. Having completed a competitive bidding process to find the right partners to develop the biggest sites in the area, Daniel Bridge had to come up with a governance structure for the project and tender for the the vital first pieces of infrastructure that would catalyse further development.
Listen to Dan’s Story and his involvement in the Royal Docks project
The Royal Docks are the Mayor of London’s single largest land holding. Historically, the Royals were part of the city’s thriving dock areas but since their disuse in the 1970’s and despite numerous regeneration strategies, no overarching vision for the area has been delivered. This is partly due to the complex physical severance from road, rail and water networks that exists in and around the site as well as the scale of the area, which compares to the size of central London.
Areas marked in Red are owned by the Greater London Authority. The Royal Docks are severed to the north and south by the Docklands Light Railway as well as major dual carriageway roads. The water area itself is considered by many as a major barrier in the social and economic fabric of the docks.
The Excel exhibition centre is one of only two major conventions centres in London. London City Airport is the city’s dedicated business airport serving the City and Canary Wharf. The University of East London makes up the last of the three major landmarks in the area. In terms of established neighbourhoods, the Royal Docks are surrounded by North Woolwich and Beckton but both areas remain separated from the Docks waterfront due to major rail and road infrastructure.
The Royal Docks are surrounded by four ward areas all within the London Borough of Newham. The table below compares these wards together with Newham and London averages.
|(2011 Figures)||Canning Town South||Custom House||Beckton||Royal Docks||Newham Average||London Average|
|% of households in Multiple Deprivation||35||37||35||24||37||26|
|% of people with no qualification||23||25||19||14||21||18|
|% of people unemployed||8||9||8||11||10||9|
|Full data||https://goo.gl/M0Q8kc||https://goo.gl/XUwGbu||https://goo.gl/QfPU83||https://goo.gl/kwqX0v||Click on any ward link for Newham averages||Click on any ward link for London averages|
Projected investment in the Royal Docks
The Mayor’s single largest land holding
Over twenty development partners committed to the area
Projected Business rates collected in the Royal Docks in the next 25 years
Unlike London’s Olympic Park regeneration, the Royal Docks do not provide a clean slate for development. The Royal Docks are home to some of London’s iconic institutions such as London’s ExCeL exhibition area, London City Airport and the University of East London. Any new development or masterplan will therefore needed to work around these institutions. To facilitate the development process, the Docks were subdivided into five large development areas: Royal Victoria, Royal Albert Dock, Silvertown, Gallions Reach and Royal Albert Basin.
By the summer of 2016, the two larger areas, both owned by the GLA had already been granted planning permission from Newham council. The first was Royal Albert Docks by ABP Investment Limited. This was a vacant 14 hectare site to be developed into a new business destination for Chinese businesses wanting to locate their EMEA operations closer to their markets. Over 2.8m sq. ft of office space would be delivered together with 146,000 sq ft of commercial space with 846 residential units and 180 serviced apartments. The second site was Silvertown Quays by the Silvertown Partnership LLP. This was a 24 hectare site to be developed over three phases with 2.8 million sq ft of Brand Pavillion space (a type of permanent Expo for brands to showcase their products), just under 3000 residential units, 1.9 million sq ft of office space, 100,000 sq ft of retail, 200,000 sq ft for food and beverage and further space for hotels, leisure and 75,000 sq ft of community and education facilities. Following a public procurement process, both developers signed Master Development Agreements (MDA) with the GLA with the understanding that considerable levels of infrastructure investment will be put in place to attract tenants to the site.
It was clear to all parties that without the infrastructure there would have been considerable barriers to occupation and so the development partners started putting pressure on Daniel Bridge to bring forward infrastructure investment.
All stakeholders have a common goal of bringing the vital infrastructure investment to the area
Daniel Bridge often looked at King’s Cross and the Olympic Park as the prime examples of how to develop large parts of derelict land into successful London places. At the core of these developments, was a public realm and infrastructure strategy that was created upfront as part of an intensive master planning process and clear finance strategy. Although the infrastructure provision was developed through different delivery vehicles, in both the King’s Cross and the Olympic Park cases, the infrastructure provider was a direct beneficiary of the uplift in development value created by that infrastructure – either as a land owner or as a developer. Spending heavy on infrastructure provision made business sense.
Working in groups of five, and based on the stakeholders in the Royal Docks, you are asked to come up with a governance model on who should be delivering the infrastructure in the area?
The GLA together with Newham and the LEP jointly commissioned the engineering firm Arup, to undertake an infrastructure prioritisation strategy to transform the Royal Docks. Following heavy consultation with all the stakeholders, Arup submitted its infrastructure investment proposal to Daniel Bridge in April 2016. The proposal listed a 39 key projects, amounting to over £350 million of investment that they considered vital to the success of the Royal Docks. These projects were divided into five categories:
With this list of 39 projects and guaranteed funding from future business rates, Daniel Bridge was now in a position to start tendering for some of this infrastructure. The question remained how should this tendering process take place?
Working in groups of five, you are asked to write a short brief to tender for the following four ideas that the stakeholder group identified: