East London’s new neighbourhood: Poplar Riverside plan for 5,000 new homes near Canning Town set to be approved by planners
An unloved industrial stretch of one of the capital’s major rivers is becoming the focus for intensive new housebuilding in east London.
The Poplar section of the River Lea, which winds through north-east London via Stratford to the Thames near Canning Town, has a pipeline of almost 5,000 new homes to be delivered over the next 10 years.
Tower Hamlets councils is this week expected to approve proposals for the biggest individual project set to transform an area dubbed Poplar Riverside.
Up to 2,800 new homes will be built on the old Poplar Gasworks site in Leven Road, with a third lower-cost — earmarked for buyers and renters who would otherwise be priced out of London.
The 20-acre site will eventually also include a secondary school, offices, shops, restaurants and bars, plus a small riverside park and a new towpath walk providing public access to this section of the Lea for the first time in over 200 years. Two sections of ironwork from dismantled original Victorian gasholders will be reused as public art.
“The proposal is considered well designed,” said Ann Sutcliffe, Tower Hamlets’ director of place, in a report due to be rubber-stamped by the council’s planners this week. “Officers are satisfied that the proposed development would deliver a high-quality, well-integrated, inclusive, sustainable place.”
The gasworks site, being developed by the National Grid working with housebuilder Berkeley Homes, is one of a quartet of major schemes that will open up this section of the River Lea.
The ramshackle Aberfeldy Estate is in the throes of a 12-year £250 million regeneration, with more than 1,000 new homes planned.
At Leven Wharf, adjacent to the gasworks, just over 100 new flats have already been completed, while at another nearby development site, Ailsa Wharf, planning permission has been granted for 785 new homes.
The plans for the Poplar Gasworks site have alarmed Transport for London, which has raised concerns that there is no station “within comfortable walking distance” — although Langdon Park Docklands Light Railway station is just over half a mile away and Bromley-by-Bow Tube is less than a mile north.
The closest option as the crow flies is Canning Town Tube, DLR and London Buses station, which will eventually benefit from Crossrail services. But getting there involves a long detour and the need to cross the traffic-clogged, polluted A13.
“The creation of a new high-density mixed-use neighbourhood at this site must deliver a step change in connectivity, otherwise it risks the development being in an isolated location with poor transport links,” said Alex Lloyd, of TfL’s city planning department.
TfL believes the solution is a new bridge across the Lea, offering a swifter, safer walk to Canning Town but at a cost of £13 million. Officials have urged the council to insist the developers foot the bulk of the bill as a condition of winning planning permission.