Caught between the uber-expensive City and the industrial remnants surrounding City Airport, Silvertown has long been one of London's most neglected areas. But now a £3.5bn project is poised to transform it into an exciting new town with a character (and economy) all of its own.
The scheme is taking a unique approach to regeneration. The developer, The Silvertown Partnership (which includes Chelsfield Properties, First Base and Macquarie Capital), plans to create a whole new town from scratch. With carefully created business, retail, leisure and living spaces, they’re having to take an innovate look at production, too.
A new factory will be opened on-site to construct the components for 850 new homes, making Silvertown Quays the UK’s first factory-built area. This not only keeps construction costs down, but it also allows developers to custom-build components that will solve the location's particular challenges – not least the soundproofing needed to keep out the noise of nearby City Airport. It also means the development will start showing results as soon as 2019.
A unique character
Despite being factory produced, the developers are adamant their project won't be taking on the identikit 'pre-fab housing' image. As well as incorporating the area's industrial heritage – particularly through the conversion of the iconic Art Deco Millennium Mills –Silvertown Quays will build its own identity as a self-sustaining 'making and sharing community.'
Combining the best of Britain’s market towns with some of the classic hallmarks of gentrification, the area will offer cheap spaces for young, creative startups, retail opportunities for everyone (except big chains) and residential properties that each have a style and feel of their own. To top it off, the community will also host a new venue for Camden’s Roundhouse Theatre, which will sit alongside independent bars, cafés and restaurants.
Room for growth
When it comes to expansion, TfL is considering a road tunnel from Silvertown to the Greenwich peninsula. There'll also be a new pedestrian bridge that will span the Royal Docks, giving access to speedy Crossrail services. Both are great signs that the area will generate wider appeal.
Those of you looking for property investment opportunities among the nation’s flagship regeneration schemes could do far worse than getting into Silvertown early. Two-bed flats close to the river are available for around £350,000 and there are strong indications that prices could skyrocket once the development opens up.