Blackwall Yard: 39-storey block and 900 homes to be built across the Thames from the O2

Blackwall Yard render
The view across the Thames from the O2 will change when the Blackwall Yard scheme is built

By Alastair Lockhart, Local Democracy Reporter for Tower Hamlets

A 39-storey tower block will be built across the Thames from the O2 after Tower Hamlets Council approved nearly 900 new homes at Blackwall Yard.

The five buildings in the Poplar scheme, designed by three different architecture firms, will range between nine and 39 storeys tall, featuring flats, a new primary school and nursery, a bar and 1,500 square metres of commercial and retail space.

Developers Hadley Property Group have also pledged to incorporate the yard’s Grade II-listed graving dock into the site, with one section to be filled with water and used as either a pond or an open-air swimming pool. There will also be public access to the Thames Path.

The two largest buildings, one 33 storeys and the other 39, will include both residential and commercial spaces.

Of the 898 new homes, 171 will be for discounted rents and 92 will be for shared ownership – making a level of 29.2 per cent “affordable” housing; although because of the number of larger homes in this category, councillors counted this as 35 per cent by habitable room.

Blackwall Yard
The Blackwall Yard site as it is now

The discounted-rent homes will be split between London Affordable Rent – about half market rent – and Tower Hamlets Living Rent, a more expensive level aimed at working households, set at a third of average incomes in the borough.

All the development’s “affordable” housing will be in one block, designed by Panter Hudspith architects, together with its primary school.

Local residents objected to the Blackwall Yard scheme on several grounds, including noise, air and light pollution, overcrowded public services and concerns around anti-social behaviour along the Thames Path. A total of 16 comments were submitted to the council.

But William Poole, a partner at Glenn Howells Architects, which has designed the two tallest buildings, said “We’re thrilled to have received planning on this highly ambitious, community-focused project. With sustainable living at its heart, Blackwall Yard will bring together an incredible array of public benefits, including the restored Graving Dock, a new primary school and more than half a hectare of public realm that provides local residents with much needed outside space.

Michael Woodford, whose company White Arkitekter designed the buildings closest to the river, added: “Blackwall Yard represents a unique opportunity to create a truly sustainable mixed-use residential neighbourhood on the River Thames. The scheme will create an essential link between existing communities and the riverfront. By opening up the Thames River Path, the historic graving dock will be brought back into public use as part of a convivial public realm, and we’re delighted to receive planning following collaboration with Hadley and the fantastic design team.”

The scheme was passed unanimously by Tower Hamlets’ strategic development committee – its equivalent of Greenwich’s planning board – on Wednesday.

Additional reporting by Darryl Chamberlain

LDRS logoAlastair Lockhart is the Local Democracy Reporter for Tower Hamlets. The Local Democracy Reporter Service is a BBC-funded initiative to ensure councils are covered properly in local media.
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