Thursday, 7th March 2019

Wood Wharf: A new district in for Canary Wharf

Earlier this month I was given the opportunity to visit Wood Wharf – the new district currently under construction on 23 acres of dockland in Canary Wharf, and consider the development in the context of the emerging policies in the New London Plan, as the EiP enters its second month of deliberation. The emerging Plan emphasises the need to make best use of land to deliver strong and inclusive communities, economic growth and the housing that Londoners need whilst also protecting unacceptable effects on existing infrastructure. Here, we consider some of the lessons learnt in constructing a new district within a densely urban area of London.

Canary Wharf’s new district, Wood Wharf, is a new residential led, mixed use, waterside community which spans across 23 acres of old dockland and once completed will be one of London’s largest privately-owned development sites. The masterplan, designed by Allies and Morrison Architects, aims to make the best use of land as per the emerging Plan, and will when complete provide over 3,300 new homes, nearly 2 million sq ft of commercial office space and a further 490,000 sq ft of shops, restaurants and community uses. The development comprises a variety of uses with buildings between 1 and 55 storeys with completion expected in 2023.

Visiting the site earlier this month, I was able to see the development coming together and visualise how the district will look in its entirety once completed. The development is being delivered across several phases and by a variety of project managers to limit unacceptable effects on existing infrastructure. Talking to some of the project managers on site, one of the biggest issues since construction, has been the logistics on site for example managing the delivery of materials and equipment ensuring that this doesn’t affect existing infrastructure or the progress of other buildings nearby. Although this has been their biggest issue the contractors are yet to run into any logistical issues that have led to time delays. Issues such as this stress the importance of phasing development within the planning process but more importantly ensuring that the phasing and careful management is implemented throughout construction.

There has been a key focus on community engagement throughout the development process which has seen the site gain ‘Ultra-Site’ status for demonstrating and promoting the highest standards of ‘considerate construction’. A key aspect of the community engagement has been the newsletter which is regularly issued to existing residents in the area. The newsletter includes planning updates, construction updates and what can be expected next. These updates not only inform the residents as to what is going on but provide a platform for any discussions and comments. Engaging existing residents and business owners throughout the construction phases is likely to instil a positive approach to development from the residents and reduce the number of issues arising for the developers particularly for a development on the scale of Wood Wharf.

Jennifer Keith – Consultant at Temple Group.