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), 3200 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.
The GLA together with Newham and the LEP recently commissioned the engineering firm Arup, to undertake an infrastructure prioritisation strategy to transform the Royal Docks. The full strategy is in the documentation below, which divided the area into themes and zones dependant on the current and future uses in the Docks. Their proposal also listed 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: