£1.7 billion of investment will create a thriving business hub to rival Canary Wharf
In the 19th century, the Royal Docks were home to the largest and deepest enclosed docks in the world. Created by the entrepreneurs to provide for London’s growing trades, the docks brought a new world of commerce to the city. At the same time they attracted people from across the globe to do business at their quays, generating thousands of jobs and creating wealth. History has a habit of repeating itself.
In February 2015, the chairman of Asian Business Port (ABP) and the Mayor of Newham signed an agreement about a brownfield site in Royal Docks. The plan is to build office towers for an Asian business park in a deal that should create 20,000 jobs, and add £6 billion to London’s economy.
ABP are ploughing £1.7 billion of investment into the venture. Their aim is to create a new commercial hub for overseas businesses who are looking to expand their reach to Europe by opening a London office.
Buy-to-let properties in Royal Docks are going to be perfectly positioned to provide housing for those 20,000 workers, including many affluent business people.
ABP’s move follows a trend of Chinese firms snapping up sites in London with huge potential, to safeguard against a property downturn in their home nation. It’s an overwhelming vote of confidence in the future of the Royal Docks area but an unsurprising one when you look at the area’s location and transport connections.
It’s situated in Zone 2 and has unrivalled links to London City Airport. The airport’s fast turnaround times make it the number one choice for business travellers and frequent flyers. Transatlantic flights to New York have just been added and with the growth of Royal Docks you can expect more routes to be added in the coming years.
Further to this, Royal Docks has the DLR at Pontoon Dock, Silvertown, and Custom House, which will open as a Crossrail station in 2018 providing swift access to Heathrow Airport.
Even without the massive investment by ABP, property research giants JLL expect prices near Custom House to grow 40.5% from 2014-2020 due to Crossrail alone. They also forecast that rental values will rise by 28% in the same period.
With £22 billion of development potential, East London is awash with investment opportunities
Since the transformation of Canary Wharf into one of Europe’s most powerful business districts, London’s centre of gravity has been moving east, a shift recently consolidated with the success of the 2012 Olympics.
Property prices in the London Borough of Newham, where most of the Olympic regeneration was focused, have been stealthily rising. Crucially for investors, they still remain below London’s average price by 56%, but last year increased by 23.4%. This was the highest rise of all the London boroughs.
The Olympics may have finished three years ago but the regeneration of eastern postcodes is ongoing. This is in part due to Boris Johnson’s Vision 2020 document in which he describes his future plans for Royal Docks. The Mayor of London wrote “My vision is to develop a world-class international business district, creating local jobs and growth and strengthening trade between east and west.”
He also identified £22 billion of development potential for a remarkable new district on the North Bank of the River Thames.
Two years on from the Vision document and the Mayor’s plans are in full swing. Pontoon Dock and Silvertown Quays are in the consultation phase of a £3.5 billion regeneration project. Current plans include the restoration of iconic Dockland buildings, creating ‘Brand Pavilions’ that boost customer product engagement and an innovation hub. There are also plans to develop the Royal Albert Basin into a state-of-the-art commercial boatyard.
Royal Victoria Dock is also being transformed. It’s arguably already a visitor attraction in its own right but when London’s Floating Village opens footfall to the area will increase dramatically. The Floating Village will be a collection of buoyant homes, cafés, shops and restaurants bobbing below the Emirates Air Line.
The are several proposals to improve the river crossings near Royal Docks. These include new crossings at Gallions Reach and Belvedere. A consultation is underway about the Silvertown Tunnel and has been designated a ‘Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project.’
Economy & Employment
Royal Docks has enviable access to London’s biggest employment centres, including Canary Wharf and the City.
Canary Wharf’s iconic skyline forms one of London’s two main financial centres, along with the City of London. Canary Wharf is currently the biggest employer of bankers in Europe and the demand for high-quality professional accommodation in the surrounding area is high.
There also a short supply of residential housing in the Canary Wharf area and nearby areas such as Royal Docks are benefiting hugely.
London’s third business district is taking off at Royal Albert Dock and will become a gateway for high-tech overseas businesses further increasing housing demand from professional tenants.
London City Airport is the largest private sector employment site in the London Borough of Newham. London City Airport offers flights as far afield as New York so business travellers benefit from direct links to Europe and key commercial cities.
North of Canary Wharf, Shoreditch & Spitalfields is clustered for commercial, technological and artistic business. Old Street has become world-famous as a centre for innovation, following the Government’s Tech City initiative, which was backed by global superstars such as Google, Facebook and Intel.
Custom House and Canning Town redevelopment is underway with an estimated cost of £3.7 billion.
The forthcoming 14 hectares Asian Business Port at Royal Albert Dock will create a business district to rival Canary Wharf.
But it’s not just overseas investment that’s transforming the face of Royal Docks. The regeneration that began in the Docklands in the 1980s continues today on an unprecedented scale.
The new Crossrail station at Custom house is the focus for much of Newham’s regeneration in the next 5 years.
For an area of around 500 hectares, the Royal Docks has a relatively small resident population of fewer than 10,000 people. An important aim for the regeneration of the Royal Docks is to integrate existing residents into more clearly defined neighbourhoods with community facilities at their heart.
The Custom House and Canning Town redevelopment programme are underway with an estimated cost of £3.7 billion. The project includes the construction of 10,000 new homes, much-improved town centres, and the creation of several thousand new jobs.
There is also continued regeneration in the wider area as a result of the London 2012 Olympics. A £300m construction project has been converting the Olympic Park into a visitor destination, opening up the arena, acres of parkland, and iconic venues including Anish Kapoor’s Arcelor-Mittal Orbit and the Zaha Hadid-designed Aquatics Centre.
THE CROSSRAIL EFFECT
With its arrival in 2018, Crossrail is all set to provide London and the South East with a world-class, high capacity railway, delivering faster journey times and new journey choices. Europe’s biggest engineering project, this pioneering service will link London and its neighbouring counties to the east and west. From Custom House station, close to Royal Docks, it will be just 15 minutes into central London. Even Heathrow airport will be less than 45 minutes away.
Rail & Tube: The Docklands Light Railway (DLR) links Royal Docks other eastern locations including Canary Wharf, Stratford and Woolwich. It connects with Bank and Tower Gateway as well as Greenwich and London City Airport. The DLR has several Tube station interchanges provided access to the rest of the city. There’s also an Underground station at Canning Town which hosts the Jubilee line.
Air: With London City Airport less than five minutes away by DLR, it’s quick and easy to fly all over Europe – or even to New York.
Road: Newham is served by the A13 to the south of the borough, the A406 to the east and the A12 to the north and the west, ensuring excellent road access to and from the area.
Cable Car: The Emirates cable car is a wonderful way to cross the Thames, gliding from the Royal Docks to the Greenwich Peninsula in seven minutes.
Bus: Newham borough is well served by bus routes, with regular day and night buses serving the borough and further afield.
The borough of Newham currently has 69 primary schools, 19 secondary schools, 3 special schools, 10 independent school, 1 independent special school and 3 sixth form/FE colleges.
Schools of note include Rokeby School, Plashet School, Langdon School, and Brampton Manor Academy, all of which received an Ofsted five-star rating.
Further and Higher Education: The University of East London has two campuses in Newham: the Stratford Campus in Stratford and the Docklands Campus, next to the Royal Albert Dock. The Anglian College London offers more FE and HE courses, it operates mainly from Woolwich, a short hop across the Thames. It has four academic and one administrative department.
Universities in the vicinity include Queen Mary University, University of East London and the Academy of Performing Arts. There’s also easy access to all of London’s world-class educational establishments including London School of Economics and University College, London.
Birkbeck Stratford is a joint collaboration between Birkbeck University London and UEL to increase participation in adult learning. This is currently based on the UEL Stratford campus but is planned to move to its own facilities.
Shops & Leisure
Shopping & Dining: Nearby Westfield Stratford City is one of Britain’s most popular retail and leisure destinations. With over 300 shops and restaurants Stratford has a wealth of variety to offer tenants of Royal Docks as does the world-famous Greenwich market on the other side of the river.
But Royal Docks will be a shopping destination in its own right. A new retail precinct with restaurants, bars, cafés is being created; residents won’t need to leave their doorstep.
Leisure & Entertainment: The Excel centre hosts some of London’s largest exhibitions and conferences from sci-fi and comic book conventions to boat and classic car shows. For concerts the O2 is a short ride away on the Emirates Air Line as are the rest of Greenwich’s historical attractions like the Cutty Sark.
Green Space: 80 hectares within Newham are already designated as part of the Metropolitan Green Belt and there are plenty of Thames-side walks as the river stretches to almost a mile wide here. There are two large parks, Lyle Park in the east, opened in 1924 by Sir Leonard Lyle of the sugar company Tate & Lyle. To the west are the 22 acres of the Thames Barrier Park, filled with fountains, lawns and flower gardens, as well as a children’s play area and sports facilities.