East London's new "island" community

A new London “island” community, with 1,700 homes, is to be carved out of a derelict strip of land opposite the O2 arena
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Leamouth Peninsula
Leamouth Peninula in east London is to be redeveloped with 1,700 new homes being built and an arts complex

From oily rag to riches

Leamouth Peninsula is currently a grim stretch of east London, surrounded on three sides by the meandering Lea river and bordered to the west by the former East India Docks.

It was once the site of a vast oil processing plant but has been left as wasteland for six years. Now it is to be developed, with a cluster of 13 new buildings, (right), including 27-storey towers and a new arts complex, which will change views from Greenwich Park and the 02 forever.

The proposals are broadly supported by Mayor Boris Johnson and have been granted planning permission by the London Thames Gateway Development Corporation (LTGDC).

The scheme - which will cost a reported £5 billion - was put forward by a subsidiary of the Irish property developer Ballymore. It was designed by a leading team of UK architects, led by Skidmore, Owings and Merrill (SOM). The site is surrounded by water or mudflats on three sides and there is a busy road on the fourth, effectively making it an island.

So a new pedestrian bridge will be built spanning the River Lea giving future residents a safe path to nearby Canning Town, from where they can pick up the Jubilee Line or the Docklands Light Railway.

As well as the homes, there will be an art gallery, children’s playground, public square, park, leisure club, offices, shops and restaurants on the site.

A report by the LTGDC applauds the scheme’s “very high standard of design” and describes it as an “innovative development that will open up access to the Leamouth Peninsula”. It will also be a lot less boring to look at than many big new housing schemes.

“The proposal seeks to minimise the often monotonous design solution to high-density residential schemes in urban locations which can often result in tall, lifeless rectangular blocks,” notes the LTGDC. “The design concept seeks to create a series of interesting building shapes.”

One of the new buildings will sport a “vertical garden” with planting up a wall, while another will have an inset winter garden. Controversially, just shy of 20 per cent of the homes on the site will be affordable and aimed at cash-strapped first-time buyers. The Mayor has reluctantly accepted this, but has asked for the level of affordable units to be reviewed as the development progresses.

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