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Regeneration news

Our public realm programme is turning infrastructure into a new piece of the city

The Royal Docks’ landscape was built around a single activity: shipping. Now, this is a place where people live, work, study and visit. Here’s how our Public Realm Works Programme is transforming the area into a varied and integrated part of London.

While the bustle of goods being unloaded has long gone, an outline still remains of the Royal Docks’ days as London’s most important port. As well as magnificent expanses of water, that legacy has left a somewhat fragmented landscape shaped by docklands infrastructure — rather than by the needs of those who now use the space.

Enhancing public spaces and routes in and around the area is the guiding principle behind our ambitious Public Realm Works Programme and we are investing in making this area a multi-layered, rich, and connected piece of the city that stretches from The Leaway in the west to Albert Island in the east.

A map from the Royal Docks public realm framework

Making connections

A network of excellent connections will make this area socially connected and economically successful. See page 22 of the report for more detail.

Our work on the public realm has already begun. In the past year, we have opened up a new and improved route along the northern edge of Royal Albert Dock. This reconnects, for the first time in years, the full northern edge of Royal Victoria and Royal Albert Dock. We are also making some landscaping improvements to the gardens around the Crystal building at Royal Victoria Dock, and we are about to start on some works at Silvertown Quays, including site clearance, improved access, and maintenance to Silo D.

You may have also recently given us your views on the Royal Docks tree planting programme and improvements to Thames Barrier Park; two initiatives that will help to ensure that there are plenty of attractive, green spaces in the area for us to enjoy.

In February 2019, we appointed a design team led by 5th Studio architects to work with stakeholders and the local community to produce a Public Realm Framework for the Royal Docks. The framework sets out the overarching narrative and design personality for the Royal Docks open spaces, supporting the delivery of a coherent design character for the area and its connections to wider Newham and London, and overcoming physical and perceived barriers.

A screenshot from the Royal Docks public realm framework

Typical dock edge treatment

These proposals show what the dock edge might one day look like. See page 32 of the report to read more.

The proposed interventions support spaces for events and activation, greening and community initiatives amongst others. Development partners across the area are already planning to create new public spaces totalling around 12 hectares, equivalent to around 12 times the area of Trafalgar Square. The Royal Docks Team will be joining the dots and bridging the gaps between these spaces, through six targeted interventions:

  1. Activating the water and the dock edge
  2. Turning Royal Victoria Dock West into a destination and a gateway
  3. Unlocking the placemaking potential of North Woolwich Road and Silvertown Way
  4. Creating a legible, active landscape around Connaught Crossing
  5. Fostering connectivity, accessibility, and better recreation and amenity in North Woolwich
  6. Bridging the barrier created by Royal Albert Way by enhancing pedestrian and cyclist connections between Beckton and the Royal Docks

Read the full report.

Images from the Royal Docks public realm framework

North Woolwich Road

This example treatment shows how North Woolwich Road might look once its placemaking potential has been enhanced. Go to page 30 of the report for a summary of our areas of focus.

The public realm framework sets out a roadmap to ensure that the emerging totality is greater than the sum of the parts. This overall vision will need to be delivered through a diverse range of tactics and approaches, and in partnership with local communities and stakeholders.

In 2020, we will be developing detailed plans to implement further works in the key intervention areas. We’re also working on an integrated and consistent approach to lighting, wayfinding and landscape to improve the cyclist and pedestrian experience of the place and facilitate movements across the area. Finally, activating and improving access to the dock edges and the water are also a priority this year.

5th Studio’s work is one of three parallel studies, alongside the Newham Economic Purpose study, led by Hatch Regeneris and the Royal Docks Cultural Placemaking Strategy, led by the Contemporary Arts Society.

These studies have been informed by an extensive public engagement programme which, between July and October 2019, brought together people who visit, work and live in the Royal Docks to discuss the future of the area.

We will publish more information on this website in due course. In the meantime, if you have any questions, please contact the Royal Docks Team on

Download the public realm framework report here.

Over the past few months, we have been working with our partners to make some much needed improvements to public spaces in and around the Royal Docks. View our latest public realm updates.

An image from the Royal Docks Public Realm Framework

Royal Victoria Dock West

One idea for creating a destination at Royal Victoria Dock West is to build a structure on the water. Here’s an example of how it might look.