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Reconnecting Poplar Riverside

This Delivery and Implementation Strategy has been commissioned by the London Thames Gateway Development Corporation (LTGDC) in partnership with London Borough of Tower Hamlets (LBTH), Design for London (DfL) and Poplar HARCA with the stated primary objective of -

‘developing a structured delivery strategy which the LTGDC can use to initiate interventions aimed at improving conditions for existing residents and new communities and to provide an attractive environment for new commercial investment in the area.’

The Strategy investigates the development capacity of the area in relation to other opportunities within a wider Lea Valley context and presents a costed delivery strategy to guide development and provide an action plan for the LTGDC and its partner organisations.

Poplar Riverside is located within the Lower Lea Valley (LLV) in East London which is currently undergoing rapid change.  Over the next 20 years the combined effect of the new Lea River Park and 2012 Olympic Legacy will transform the Valley from a declining industrial backland into a foreground ‘water city’ for  East London.


Building upon the Lower Lea Valley Opportunity Area Framework Vision

The proposals for Poplar Riverside build upon the vision and principles of the The Lower Lea Valley Opportunity Area Framework (LLVOAPF) which  aims to

...transform the LLV to become a vibrant, high quality and sustainable mixed use city district, that is fully integrated into the urban fabric of London and is set within an unrivalled landscape that contains new high quality parkland and a unique network of waterways. 

The Strategy follows the seven core principles within the LLVOAPF which are:
A  Water City: Develop the LLV as a water city
B  Thriving Centres:  Create thriving centres
C  Neighbourhoods and Communities: create new         sustainable residential communities.
D  Working Valley: Manage the transition of industrial sites for other land uses and a mix of employment uses
E   A Connected Valley: reduce physical severances, improve public transport, road, cycle and pedestrian networks
F A Sustainable and Enduring Legacy;  Proposals should adhere to  principles of sustainability in the built environment.
G  Reap the benefits of Olympic investment: plan and phase social infrastructure to maximise integration and synergy

The Strategy builds upon these core principles within a vision for Poplar Riverside which develops new landscape connections to link the river park to surrounding communities.  


An integrated Vision for Poplar Riverside

The Strategy looks at a wider area and core area which have been brought together into an integrated vision for Poplar  Riverside.   

The wider area strategies look specifically at creating new connections within Poplar riverside and to surrounding areas; new local centres and social infrastructure to support new and existing communities.

The core area proposals look at the transformation of  industrial sites along the River Lea within 5 sub-sites to include mixed residential and employment uses and a new river edge park as part of the Lea River Park open space network.

The Strategy highlights key constraints and opportunities which restrict the development of the core area and concludes that new links are essential to the development of Poplar Riverside as a whole and to its role within a connected valley.  Finally it sets out a costed delivery strategy and an action plan for the LTGDC and its partner organizations.  


The purpose of the Strategy

The Strategy has been commissioned by the LTGDC to initiate as series of interventions to improve the area.  It provides private and public sector bodies with guidance on future proposals and although it will not have planning status it will be used to inform responses to planning applications.   Sections of the report may be used as stand alone documents to inform future developments.


Thematic objectives addressed by the strategy

The strategy focuses on a core area defined within the brief and specifically on how it can be transformed from current industrial uses to a mixed residential area with a new river edge park as part of the wider Lea River Park proposal. The proposed transformation is based on a series of thematic objectives and key aims and principles which have been identified in previous policy documents, the brief, and expanded in discussions with client and stakeholder groups from the outset (see following page).  


A Vision for Poplar Riverside

The Strategy sets out a vision for Poplar Riverside, to guide development over the next 10-20 years and beyond.  It defines a strategic context for investment and a structured delivery strategy which the LTGDC and its partners can use to initiate a series of interventions to drive and manage change within Poplar Riverside which is fully integrated with vision, aspirations and changes within the wider Lower


Poplar Riverside Today

Poplar Riverside is currently extraordinary in its imbalance of deprivation and proximity to the extreme commercial wealth of Canary Wharf and the Isle of Dogs.  It is a typical fringe area, on the border between boroughs of Tower Hamlets and Newham, which has developed piecemeal in its post war history.  The decline in river related industry and the imposition of major arterial road infrastructure have resulted in ‘landlocked’ communities without identity, focus, social infrastructure and local economy to thrive.  It is an ‘island’ separated from surrounding communities and major transport centres which are close by but difficult to get to.  It has a high proportion of social housing (Poplar Harca own 37% of land in the wider area) within large estates, recognised as being of generally poor quality and ready  for renewal.  It now consists of  semi derelict industrial sites which separate hinterland communities from the river.


Poplar Riverside Tomorrow

The strategy for Poplar Riverside aligns with the aspirations of the LLVOAPF which states that:

The key opportunity for transformation in the LLV is provided through the managed release of industrial land and ensuring that new development is sustainable and built to the highest environmental and design standards. 

The strategy is a response to the commitment of the LTGDC to co-ordinate a managed regeneration of Poplar Riverside which optimises the opportunities for change in a way which is beneficial for new and existing communities, promotes high quality development and builds upon the intrinsic qualities of the area.

The Strategy brings together and synthesises a spectrum of studies ranging from the  LLVOAPF, LBTH emerging planning policy; to Poplar Harca’s Reshaping Poplar study.   The LLVOAPF has been the main point of reference and the starting point in looking at how Poplar Riverside can be part of the vision for a connected water city within the LLV.

The thematic objectives are listed below and will be discussed in further detail in the Area Wide Strategies section:
Improve key connections
Improve public transport
Enhance and intensify local centres
Improve access to green spaces and the public realm
Provide long term engineering solutions
Deliver transformation through regeneration


Funding and phasing

Key projects will be identified and prioritised, and phasing and funding mechanisms will be defined to unlock the regenerative potential of Poplar riverside and surrounding areas. Recommendations for priority have been identified as, key infrastructure improvements, the need to deliver higher densities via improved PTALs, the lochnagar junction.


Our Approach

The strategy has been developed by taking a ‘bottom up approach’  involving extensive consultation with individual stakeholders (see the following page for a comprehensive list of all client/stakeholder meetings and presentations).


Building on the inherent characteristics of the area, the proposed strategy, aims to repair, knit and transform existing communities to  mesh with the new. It focuses on transformation rather than change; renewal and repair rather than replacement.

A level of detail has been developed, in parallel with the green book appraisal, necessary to provide robust, practical and viable solutions to overcome the immediate barriers. This synthesizes a delivery and implementation strategy which meshes local needs and timescales with wider strategic issues.


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