The redevelopment of derelict land in docklands that surrounds the dominant Millennium Mills for new housing is getting started after a number of lengthy delays.
The land has been derelict since the docks closed in 1981, and was partially cleared in 1990s. There have been a number of attempts to regenerate the land since then. A plan for a huge aquarium to be built on the site in 2005 foundered after the banking crisis killed off funding. A £1.5 billion scheme was approved in 2007, but was cancelled in 2010 after work hadn’t started. A fresh attempt to revamp Millenium Mills got underway in 2015, with initial works in the Mills to make the building safe starting, but again ground to a halt.
The land, which is owned by the Greater London Authority (GLA) is now looked after by The Silvertown Partnership, a joint venture between Lendlease and Starwood Capital.
The government is providing a £233 million loan to support the housing development, by covering the upfront infrastructure improvement costs. In particular, this includes investment to support the delivery of a water-level pedestrian and cycle bridge as an alternative to the very high Royal Victoria Dock footbridge that spans the Royal Victoria Dock, linking the site to Custom House station for the DLR and the Elizabeth line.
The funding will also support the restoration of the Millennium Mills and the repair of the dock walls themselves, which have previously been a barrier to the development of the scheme. The government loan reduces the risk for the developers who could face the risk of sinking a lot of money into the site, only for it to suffer another setback and the housing then not being built.
The GLA is also providing an £80m grant to enable the delivery of housing by social housing provider, The Guinness Partnership in phase one of the project which will see 1,500 new homes built, half of which will be classed as affordable — that is a mix of social rent, living rent or shared ownership — with more than 6,000 expected to be constructed in the next decade.
The first phase of the development will be a slice of land around the Millenium Mills, with the rest of the site to be developed over the next 20 years. In total, around 42,500 new jobs are forecast to be created in the area over the next 20 years, as well as a total of 30,000 new homes. Around half of the homes will be a mix of shared ownership and reduced rental properties.
The intention is that Millenium Mills will be turned into offices and workplaces for the local residents, while the land around it will be redeveloped into waterfront housing.
The first homes will be ready to be occupied in 2024, at the same time as the new bridge will link Silvertown to Custom House station. The southern side of the development will also be closer to the DLR station at Pontoon Dock.
The development is expected to cost £3.5 billion when completed in the mid 2040s.