Westferry goes in for planning

A new planning application for a waterfront neighbourhood on the site of the former Westferry Printworks on the Isle of Dogs has been submitted to the London Borough of Tower Hamlets.

LDA Design has worked closely with developers Westferry Development Ltd. and partner Mace Developments Ltd., as well as a multi-disciplinary team led by PLP Architects, to provide generous open spaces for all to enjoy, creating welcoming public realm and new links to the waterfront through what has long been an inaccessible, private site. More than half of the development is dedicated to open space.

The design features a variety of spaces, including two new parks, playful streets, courtyards, waterside and woodland walks, play areas, plus a space for local food growing. A fountain plaza will become the site’s new social and cultural hub. To the west, a flexible green space overlooking the water provides the perfect spot for socialising or events. An additional paved area will be a great place for community gatherings such as outdoor cinema or yoga, all beneath two iconic cranes – relics of the area’s industrial past.

 LDA Design Director, Cannon Ivers, explains the approach to the public realm:

“Westferry is in a fantastic location, just a short walk from Canary Wharf. Situated on what was once marshland, water is a defining characteristic, and we’ve worked with the team to ensure the public realm connects the existing and future communities to the waterfront, adding a new chapter to Westferry’s story.

“We also looked at how the site’s spaces could accommodate a range of activities that would build community cohesion, across all ages and backgrounds, and a sense of place. We want people to find Westferry inclusive, surprising and delightful; a great place to live and spend time.”

A south-facing promenade offers uninterrupted views to the water, supported by ground floor cafés and retail spaces to create a vibrant dockside experience. An east-west route to the north of the promenade provides a sustainable and elegant series of rain gardens to harness surface water drainage, making the street feel like a place for people rather than cars. Each courtyard garden is different, reinforcing the character, personality and individuality of each space. Podium courtyards will provide tenants with open lawns, play experiences, spaces for communal dining, and colourful planting.

The design of the public realm is underpinned by health and wellbeing, and includes outdoor gyms, and ‘games rooms’ for sports such as table tennis. Hammocks will offer playful respite. The scheme includes sporting facilities, a new community hub and crèche, and a health centre. A new 1200-space secondary school is also planned.

The recent London Plan highlighted the Isle of Dogs as an area in need of new homes and investment. The new scheme aims to deliver 1500 homes, including 35 per cent affordable.

Westferry was once Europe’s largest print works. New workspaces will ensure it holds on to its enterprising heritage.

The application follows extensive consultation with the local community, as well as key stakeholders. A public exhibition took place in May.