Royal Docks - development update

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We outline here the principal developments in the Royal Docks since the demise of the LDDC in 1998, including projects completed and those in the pipeline.  Also described are the transport schemes on which the successful regeneration of the area depends. For earlier developments visit our Royal Docks History Page.   For useful Regeneration links and contacts - click here

Related pages:
About the Area
The Royal Docks - a short history
Regeneration - links and contacts
New Urban Development Corporation

Completed Developments
  ~ IVAX Pharmaceuticals
  ~ University of East
  ~ London
Regatta Centre
  ~ Britannia Village
  ~ ExCeL London Exhibition Centre
  ~ Capital East
  ~ Royal Quay
  ~ Thames Barrier Park
  ~ Gallions Reach Shopping Park
 ~ UEL Sports Centre

In the Pipeline
  ~ New Enterprise Zone
  ~ Silvertown Quays and the Royals Business Park
  ~ Minoco Wharf
  ~ Peruvian Wharf
  ~ Barrier Park East
The Floating Village
The 2012 Olympics
Transport Projects
More Information


Just six years after the LDDC closed its doors parts of the are have again become a part of the area of an urban development corporation!  Click here for details!


FOREWORDRoyal Docks Logo

WHEN, at the end of March 1998, LDDC finally closed its doors its work in the Royal Docks was not as fully advanced as elsewhere and arrangements were made for the regeneration of the area to be taken over by English Partnerships (EP), another government sponsored agency which works in partnership with the public, private and voluntary sectors. In the Royal Docks EP worked with the London Borough of Newham and a joint team was established in the old Compressor House on the north side of the Royal Albert Dock.  

LDA LogoIn July 2000 there was a further organisational change when EP's lands in the Royals were transferred to the now defunct London Development Agency (LDA). The LDA joined the nine other Regional Development Agencies set up in 1999 but unlike the others, the LDA was answerable to the Mayor of London, and was one of four bodies for which the Mayor was responsible (the others being the Metropolitan Police, the Fire Authority and Transport for London).  In March 2012 the LDA was abolished and it's staff and functions were absorbed by the Greater London Authority (GLA).

Working with the London Borough of Newham the LDA was responsible for the undeveloped lands left by the LDDC.  This work formed part of the Thames Gateway initiative which was the Government's national regeneration priority. [More Information]

We outline here the principal developments in the Royal Docks since the demise of the LDDC in 1998, including projects completed and those in the pipeline.  Also described are the transport schemes on which the successful regeneration of the area depends. 



IVAX Pharmaceuticals

The brand new "state of the art" European Headquarters of the IVAX Corporation, opened in January 1999. The core activities will include research and development for its range of products, and development work on its particular area of specialisation of innovative drug delivery systems.

Situated at the far eastern end of the Royal Albert Dock and in close proximity to EMEA in Canary Wharf (European Agency for the Evaluation of Medicinal Products), the 5 hectare site is 25 minutes from the City of London and enjoys rapid European access from nearby London City Airport.


University of East London

The University of East London's new campus admitted its first students at the start of the academic year 1999 although it was officially opened by Ken Livingstone on July 4th 2000. It features accommodation for 400 students and facilities for 5,000 students studying design, technology, engineering, arts, humanities and social sciences. A key component of the University is the Thames Gateway Technology Centre – a one-stop training facility for new and existing companies in the east of London. The Centre provides business start-up space and advice, and a technology resource centre.

Aerial View of Royal Docks   UEL
Aerial View of the Royal Docks - the new UEL Campus is shown to the right of the near end of the Airport's Runway. Source: Chorley Handford Photography   New UEL campus on the north side of the Royal Albert Dock

The new Business School with a state-of-the-art library, 400 seat lecture theatere and Knowledge Dock Centre for enterprise develoopment, was opened by HM the Queen in February 2007. In April the Student Village, providing en-suite accommodation and faciities for 1000 students, was completed


Regatta Centre

An international standard rowing course and regatta centre has been built in the Royal Albert Dock funded by the Lottery Sports fund and the London Development Agency, formerly English Partnerships. The scheme is one of only three rowing courses in the UK to meet international standards but brings sporting opportunities for local people. The new Manor Way Bridge constructed at the far eastern end of the Royal Albert Dock also improves traffic flow around the dock and access to the Woolwich Ferry. The Regatta centre started operating in October 1999 but was officially opened by HRH The Princess Royal on 30th March 2000.   The centre was supported by the Royal Docks Trust (London) for several years - see List of Grants for 2001/08.

TOP Aerial view of Silvertown Ph 1

Britannia Village

It was in 1994 that Peabody Homes took the first steps towards what would later be called Britannia Village by starting 85 homes for rent on the four-acre site off Fort Street. The following year the LDDC sold 28 acres of land to Wimpey Homes to build 777 private dwellings and six shops in what was billed at the time as the largest housing development by a single private developer anywhere in Docklands. As part of the deal Wimpey agreed to provide the Village Hall and contribute £30,000 towards providing a GP surgery at the centre. Meanwhile land was allocated by LDDC and Newham Council for 140 social homes to be built by the Peabody Trust and East Thames Housing Group at six integrated locations throughout the site.

The village plans included the £3.9 million Royal Victoria Dock Footbridge built by the LDDC to provide a direct link from the village to the DLR station at Custom House on the north side of the dock.

This award winning development is now substantially complete. Phase II of the project was left to the LDDC’s successors and plans for what is called the Silvertown Quays development are now in process - see below

For more information, and a wealth of pictures, visit the website of the West Silvertown Village Community Foundation


ExCeL London

It was in July 1994 that the LDDC short-listed four firms to put in bids for a large-scale exhibition Centre on the north side of the Royal Victoria Dock. It took time to choose a developer and to work-up and finance the scheme and it was not until January 1998 that the project finally got the green light.  The Centre opened in November 2000.

ExCeL is London’s largest single site exhibition centre, with 90,000 square metres of flexible exhibition space. It is the largest column-free hall in Europe, and has already attracted the most prestigious events, including The London Boat Show, the World Travel Market and host of other shows - for details see the ExCeL website.

ExCel with SunbornYacht HotelAt ExCeL west, the listed warehouses were completed at the turn of 2002/03.  They provide a themed pub/restaurant, a nightclub, offices and apartments. The Sunborn Yacht Hotel, the world’s first custom built, luxury Yacht Hotel, is now berthed in Royal Victoria Dock right alongside the venue’s eastern entrance. It offers 104 luxurious suites.

ExCeL is proving a major driving force for hotel development in East London. There are no less than six on-site hotels provided by Crowne Plaza, Ramada, Ibis, Novotel Premiser Inn and the Sunborne Yacht Hotel. The are other hotels nearby including the Custom House & Quality Hotel and a Travelodge on the south side of the Dock.

ExCeL London is a public company with a significant portion of private funding. £130m of bonds are traded on the Luxembourg stock exchange with a shareholding structure that is held 75% by a Malaysian corporate-equity consortium and 25% by major UK financial institutions..


Excel Excel Excel  
ExCeL -London's New Exhibition Centre
(Pictures by Paul Osborne)

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Capital East

This Barratts Development, part of the ExCeL campus overlooking the Royal Victoria Dock, is now in its final phase. It is billed as one of the largest single redevelopment projects in the Docklands. When completed it will comprise 718 apartments in a "series of 10 ultra-modern, glass-walled buildings rising to a maximum of 18 storeys". Royal Quay

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Royal Quay

This £100 million regeneration project is billed as transfrrming the Royal Docks into an "exciting new waterside residential, commercial and leisure haven". It is made up of 443 dockside apartments, plus a gym/cafe in the old Gallions Hotel, built around a newly constructed marina in he Albert Basin. The development received planning approval in 2002.

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Thames Barrier Park Thames Barier Park

London's first major riverside park was officially opened by the Mayor of London Ken Livingstone in November 2000.  Designed by French landscape architect Alain Provost, in an Anglo-French collaboration of urban designers Group Signes and Patel Taylor, the 22 acre park has a strong continental flavour.  Key features are a sunken landscaped garden (called the Green Dock), a riverside promenade and a children’s play area. 

The park is open from sunrise to sunset daily and can be reached via the No.69 bus from the Canning Town Underground station

For more information visit the Park's website

TOPGallions Reach Retail Park

Gallions Reach Shopping Park

This new 300,000 sq ft retail park with associated restaurants and car parking occupies a large site to the east of Royal Docks Road which was once part of the Beckton Gas Works.

The Park comprises 29 units, including stores ranging in size from 185 sq m (2,000 sq ft) to 1,860 sq m (20,000 sq ft) with two further standalone units and two standalone food units. The terraces have been designed to provide maximum flexibility in configuration and size.   There are 1,156 car park spaces and there is extensive soft landscaping.  Tenants include Next, WH Smith, Starbucks, Borders, HMV, Superdrug and Boots. Next door is a £12m Tesco superstore of 109,000 sq ft.  The project required ground remediation works costing £22m. Adjacent to the south eastern corner of the site is an area of land with planning permission for leisure and bulky goods use.

Click here for more information about the Retail Park


UEL Sports Centre

In September 2010 work began on building a  brand new £20 million sports centre at the Docklands campus of the University of East London.

The centre, which was built on an area of scrubland known as The Teardrop on the eastern edge of the  campus, features state-of-the-art facilities including a gym and fitness suite, a large indoor sports arena, ten badminton courts, two competition basketball courts, volleyball and netball courts, cricket bays, two five-a-side football pitches, a sports café and covered seating for 400 people.

The centre opened early in 2012 in plenty of time for the Olympic and Paralympic games, when it was used by the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) as its primary base for athlete performance services and logistical operations.



New Enterprise Zone

In March 2011 when Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, announced the development land in the area would be given Enterprise Zone status. This means that during the term of the present Parliament new businesses will benefit from reduced business rates for five years and, most importantly, the business rates collected from those newly established businesses in the zone will be retained by London’s recently created Local Enterprise Partnership for the next 25 years. This will create an ongoing economic development fund which can be re-invested in promoting economic growth elsewhere in the capital or set against borrowings for investment.

Said Boris Johnson said: “This new status is the icing on the cake for my vision to return the Royals to their former glory as a thriving, vibrant place to live, work and visit. Already home to the colossal ExCeL Exhibition Centre and the new International Convention Centre, investors are beating a path to the door of golden opportunities arising in this emerging district.

“Now with the financial and regulatory breaks granted as an Enterprise Zone there will be even greater incentives for new businesses to set up shop and create a thriving new centre of enterprise in this important corner of the capital.”


Silvertown Quays and Royals Business Park

In May 2011 the London Development Agency (LDA)  launched a new campaign for the development of these two major sites in the Royal Docks. The campaign highlighted the potential for growth at its Silvertown Quays and Royal Albert Dock sites which together cover 85 acres. In support of the campaign the LDA issued a new glossy brochure Time for Regeneration while two other publications outline their vision for the Royal Docks and the parameters for development. More information can be found online at:

The marketing campaign will reach investors around the world, particularly in the emerging markets of China, elsewhere in Asia and the Middle East.  The first phase of the campaign will invite 'expressions of interest' in the two sites. The formal process to select development partners will begin later in 2011.

The global search for development proposals coincides with moves to declare the Royal Docks a new Enterprise Zone.

Royals Business Park - Building 1000The (now defunct) LDA said it would listen to any practical proposals for the regeneration of its land and "will look to get an appropriate financial return and the best outcomes possible". The LDA aimed to reach an agreement with a successful development partner or partners in 2012.

Both sites were inherited from the former London Docklands Development Corporation by English Partnerships in 1998.  They were transferred to the LDA two years later and now that the LDA has been absorbed into the GLA they are now in the care of the Mayor of London and the GLA.  Plans have been drawn up for both sites but except for the first phase of the Royals Business Park these seem to have foundered in the recession.

The first phase of the Royals Business Park development, the 23,436 square metre Building 1000, was sold in July 2007 to the London Borough of Newham for £75m. Most of their local authority services are now based there.  It was the first major speculative office building in the Royal Docks, complementing the existing residential developments and ExCeL, London’s exhibition centre. The construction of the project uses a special Australian ‘strong force’ system of building which is not widely seen in the UK, and large scale prefabrication. It was is a joint development between Development Securities PLC, Standard Life Investments and the London Development Agency.


Minoco Wharf

After Shell UK took over Gulf Oil (UK) Limited in 1997 the decision was taken - in spite of a £5m refit just completed - to decommission the Gulf Lubricants plant at Minoco Wharf and sell the 5.9 hectare site for development.  This ended a long connection with oil production going back to 1896.  The riverside site is sandwiched between the Barrier Point residential development to the east and the industrial units to the west.

The site is currently owned by the developers Ballymore who acquired it from a consortium which who drew up a planning application for the site which did not find favour and it was withdrawn.

In June 2006 Ballymore submitted an application for outline planning permission for a mixed development covering both Minoco Wharf and the adjoining Crescent Wharf. But in May 2007 this was withdrawn and in June 2007 a new one for a revised scheme was submitted and this was granted planning permission in 2008.

Since then Ballymore has acquired additional land to the west of Minoco Wharf and this has allowed them to reassess its proposals in the context of

  • a larger land area
  • the post recessionary market
  • a desire for a more family oriented development.

Late in May 2011 Ballymore announced its latest proposals for Minoco Wharf.  They said the latest plans are styled on historic London areas with "a network of streets and squares". The project features up to 3,500 homes and will bring 20,000 workers and residents to the Royal Docks


Peruvian Wharf

This development site, incorporating also Plaistow Wharf, was previously owned by Tate and Lyle for the storage and processing of sugar.  They have now moved all their local operations to their Thames Refinery further east in Silvertown. The site was acquired for development in 1999 by Capital and Provident.

The riverside part of the site is a "safeguarded wharf” and although there has been no port related activity there for many years the Mayor of London has insisted that any development should include a working wharf. This has inhibited the development of the site for some time.

However, in August 2005 new plans for the development of the whole of the 20 acre riverside site opposite Britannia Village - were lodged with Newham Council. This plan for the development of the site was aired at a public inquiry held in the Meridian Business Centre at London City Airport in May/July 2006. Having considered the report of the Inspector the then Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Ruth Kelly, refused the application.

In February 2010 Capital and Provident aplied for a new planning permission for the erection of a four storey office building with A1, A2 and A3 use, to replace extant planning permission (reference P/00/0959) granted by the London Borough of Newham on11th March 2005. The object of the application was to extend the time limit for implementation.


Barrier Park East

Barrett has outline planning permission for a mixed use development centred around 750-780 homes adjacent to the Thames Barrier Park


The Floating Village

In March 2013 an international competition was launched by the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, to find developers and London partners to design and deliver this scheme which will see 15 acres of water at the Royal Victoria Dock site, sitting directly under the Emirates Airline cable car, transformed into a thriving community with floating homes, hotels, restaurants and bars. Press releases issed by Boris Johnson and the London Borough of Newham are attached.


Olympic LogoTHE 2012 OLYMPICS

In early July 2005 the International Olympic Committee chose London as the venue for the 2012 Olympics - a decision which has had a marked impact on the Royal Docks. The Games took place between 27 July to 12 August 2012.

London is the first city officially to host the Games three times, having previously done so in 1908 and in 1948. Around 7.7 million tickets are being sold and a further 1.5 million spectators are expected to watch the Paralympic Games during 11 days of competition. The aim was for 100 per cent of spectators to get to the Games by public transport, or by walking or cycling

The focus of the Games - involving 26 Olympic sports in 34 venues - was the Olympic Park located in the Lower Lea Valley just to the north of the Royal Docks.   The Lower Lea Valley is an area of great untapped potential and the Games are expected to be the catalyst for the regeneration of the of the area. After the Games some of the new facilities are to be reused in their Olympic form, while others, including the 80,000 seat main stadium, will be reduced in size and several will be relocated elsewhere in the UK.  It is expected that the area will be transformed into one of the largest urban parks in Europe for more than 150 years with new homes, improved transport links and world-class sports facilities available for the local community and businesses.

ExCeL London was host to seven Olympic events including boxing,  wrestling, judo, Tae Kwon Do, weight-lifting,  table tennis and fencing.  In addition they hosted six Paralympic events including boccia, table tennis,  judo,  power lifting,  wheelchair fencing and sitting volleyball.

Among the impacts of the Games in the Royal docks was the temporary use of the old F1 site on the south side of the Royal Victoria Dock immediately to the west of the Connaught Crossing as a bus depot for up to 113 vehicles with 20 staff parking spaces.  The depot included temporary structures, access areas and operational and logistic compounds all bounded by a "secure perimeter fence".

Meanwhile the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) commissioned a new temporary pedestrian route to provide access between ExCeL and the Pontoon Dock DLR Station. The scheme included: 

  • A temporary bridge across Royal Victoria Dock from ExCeL to the Silvertown Quays site.
  • A temporary walking route through the Silvertown Quays site to North Woolwich Road.
  • A temporary footbridge from the Silvertown Quays site to Pontoon Dock DLR.

It was estimated that about 18000 people would use the route every day during the Olympic period.

Several roads in the Royal Docks were affected by the Olympic Road Network (ORN) for which the Department for Transport made an Order in 2009. The order gave the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) powers to approve planned road works on the ORN, to make Traffic Regulation Orders on the ORN roads and to designate additional ORN roads with the Secretary of State's consent.  The aim was to allow better access to the Games by temporarily improving the flow of traffic. The  measures included modified traffic signals and restricted turns and temporary Games Lanes which ran in one or both directions, but did not occupy the entire road.  The roads in the Royal Docks affected by the ORN were the Lower Lea Crossing, Silvertown Way, North Woolwich Road,  the Connaught Crossing, Royal Albert Way eastwards to Stansfeld Road and the Western Gateway, Seagull Lane and Sandstone Lane at ExCeL.



The successful regeneration of the Royal Docks depends crucially on good road and rail links. To open up the area the LDDC built the Docklands Highways (the Limehouse Link, Aspen Way, the Lower Lea Crossing, North Woolwich Road, the Connaught Crossing, Royal Albert Way and Royal Docks Road) and the Beckton extension of the Docklands Light Railway (DLR).  It had also lobbied successfully for the the Jubilee Line Extension (linking Green Park with Stratford via  Waterloo, London Bridge, Surrey Docks, Canary Wharf and Canning Town) which was under construction at the time of its demise.  Meanwhile the Highways Agency was working on the long awaited scheme (now completed) for the comprehensive improvement of the A13 and discussions were in progress on new River crossings including a new rail link across the Thames from the Royal Docks to Woolwich Arsenal. 

In July 2000 transport planning became the responsibility of a new agency, Transport for London (TfL), which, like the LDA, operates under the auspices of the new Mayor of London.  TfL also took over responsibility for the Docklands Light Railway and the A13 improvements project on which work had just started.  It has also now assumed responsibility for London Underground.

Today, a number of new projects which are of importance to the Royal Docks are underway or in development. These include the extension, now completed, of the DLR from Canning Town to London City Airport and onwards under the Thames to Woolwich Arsenal. Other projects include Crossrail and the DLR's Stratford International Extension project.

For summaries about these transport projects visit the web site of the London City Airport Consultative Committee which also includes information about developments at the Airport itself:-

  The A13 Improvements

  The Jubilee Line Extension

  The DLR Extension to London City Airport/North Woolwich and Woolwich Arsenal

  East London Transit

  DLR's Stratford International Project


  River Crossings



FOR further information on the regeneration of the Royal Docks visit the following web sites:

  The Work of the LDDC - The LDDC History Pages -  

  Royals Development Projects - the London Development Agency -

  ExCel Exhibition Centre -

  The Docklands Campus of the University of East London at

  A13 Improvements - Transport for London Street Management -

  Docklands Light Railway - Extension to Stratford International -

  Crossrail - Cross London Rail Links Limited -  


The Royal Docks Trust (London)
Registered in England and Wales as a company limited by guarantee: Registration No: 3032232
Registered as a charity: Registration No: 1045057
Registered office: 37 Rushey Green, Catford, London SE6 4AF