Construction officially starts on £1.7bn Royal Albert Dock project

  • Commitment to build London’s next business district is a vote of confidence in the UK post-Brexit
  • Development includes seven new public squares and waterfront walkway

Chinese developer ABP, International Trade Minister and Minister for London Greg Hands, the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan and the Mayor of Newham Sir Robin Wales today officially marked the start of construction on the landmark £1.7 billion development at Royal Albert Dock.

As a new gateway to Europe for Asian businesses, created on Greater London Authority-owned land, the Royal Albert Dock development will bolster trade links with emerging markets and attract companies to set up their European headquarters in the capital, as well as UK businesses seeking to trade with them. The project’s developer ABP has secured Chinese state-owned construction firm CITIC as lead contractor.

Working with the Department for International Trade and the Mayors of London and Newham, the commitment from ABP and Asian investors to create London’s next business district is a mark of confidence in the UK market post Brexit and shows that London is open for business.

International Trade Minister and Minister for London, Greg Hands, said: “This is a historic moment for the Royal Albert Dock and a clear vote of confidence in the UK. As the top destination for inward investment in Europe, ABP’s £1.7 billion will help to bolster trade links with China and emerging markets, cementing London’s place as a world-class business destination.

“The UK is truly open for business and the Department for International Trade, as an international economic department, is committed to promoting the strengths of the UK to overseas investors, creating more jobs and economic growth up and down the country.”

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “This is an important milestone for this part of London as we move forward with the development of a whole new district of the city. This development is a clear sign of confidence and more evidence that London is open to investment from around the world.”

The ground-breaking was also attended by the Chinese Ambassador to the UK, Liu Xiaoming, the Mayor of Newham, Sir Robin Wales, and Board Chairman and President of ABP, Xu Weiping and ABP London CEO, Nancy Xu. ABP has made a significant commitment to Newham Council’s workplace programme to ensure newly created jobs are accessible to local residents.

Sir Robin Wales, Mayor of Newham, said: "Today is the first step towards a new and exciting future for the Royal Docks.

"We're delighted that ABP has seen the potential of this part of London and consider Newham the end of the modern Silk Road. This development will provide great benefits to our residents, including job opportunities which we are already seeing with the partnership between ABP and our employment brokerage service, Workplace. Before long this stretch of land is going to be a bustling business hub and we are delighted that our residents are going to be at the heart of it.”

Mr Xu Weiping, Chairman and President of ABP, said: “Today marks an important milestone in establishing London’s next business district at Royal Albert Dock and promoting trade between London and China in post-Brexit referendum uncertainty.

“It is an endorsement for London that there is already a great deal of occupier interest from Asia in this project and today is a positive step forward in cementing east London’s future as one of the most exciting places to do business.”

Today’s milestone follows extensive work by developer ABP to secure £320 million in funding, including securing the services of Chinese state-owned firm CITIC as investor and lead contractor on the project. The development forms part of the Chinese government’s ‘Belt and Road’ investment initiative, which stretches from China through central Asia and into Europe.

The Mayor also unveiled a newly established team of experts to drive the wider regeneration of the Royal Docks area. Set up by the Mayor and the London Borough of Newham, the Royal Docks Delivery Team will lead on transforming the area into a vibrant new district to work, play and live – as well as creating up to 40,000 jobs and bringing a host of social and economic benefits. The first phase should be completed in the spring of 2019. The development includes seven new public squares and a new waterfront walkway.

Just days ago, ABP signed an agreement which will see the Chinese province of Guangdong set up a major base at Royal Albert Dock to boost trade between the UK and China. Under the agreement, Guangdong Province has appointed a private Chinese enterprise, Tian’an Group, to set up a 3,000 to 5,000 sq m centre to raise awareness of consumer brands not yet established in the UK and to find local suppliers and businesses to trade with.

It is hoped the unique cluster of businesses which will occupy Royal Albert Dock will be a magnet for other European and UK companies, attracting further investment into this part of London. In time, the scheme will become one of the biggest generators of jobs in Royal Dock and the London Borough of Newham.

Following the event to mark the start of construction on site, the Mayor chaired a meeting of the London Economic Action Partnership (LEAP), the first to take place in the Royal Docks. LEAP is the Local Enterprise Panel for London.


Notes to editors

─ GLA-owned sites to be released for development under this Mayoralty include the Gallions 3b residential site – also in the Royal Docks – and the former Webbs Industrial Estate in Walthamstow.
─ Across London, the GLA owns around 1,600 acres of land, with the potential to deliver over 50,000 homes and create 60,000 jobs. The GLA owns more than 650 acres of land and water in the Royal Docks.
─ The Royal Docks is London’s only Enterprise Zone and in February 2017 LEAP agreed in principle that the first £380 million of business rates generated in the Zone should be ring-fenced and spent in or to the benefit of the Zone.

About ABP Royal Albert Dock

─ Known in China as Advanced Business Park, ABP has an enviable track record for large-scale regeneration developments. ABP’s first project in Beijing 2003 was impressive. Completed in 2010, the 15 million sq ft development is home to more than 500 companies employing 50,000 employees. ABP continues to make an impact with developments underway in Qingdao and Shenyang, and evolving plans for a massive 180 million sq ft project in Haining.
─ The first phase of around 600,000 sq ft of development at the 35-acre Royal Albert Dock is due to open in early 2019 to coincide with the arrival of Crossrail in the Royal Docks.
─ It will cost £1.7bn to deliver and create 30,000 new jobs and bring £6bn to the local economy. The estimated gross development value of the development is over £3bn.

Royal Docks Enterprise Zone

─ The Royal Docks was granted Enterprise Zone status from April 2012 in recognition of its strategic importance.
─ Benefits to businesses locating inside the zone include:
o business rates relief
o simplified planning procedures
o high-speed broadband provision
o business rate uplift retention for 25 years
─ The Royal Docks lies within the stretch of land in Newham running from Stratford down to the River Lea to the Thames known as ‘arc of opportunity’ with £22 billion of development potential. It is home to ExCeL, the international exhibition and convention centre and London City Airport. The Mayors of London and Newham have set out a joint vision to develop the Royal Docks.

For further information, and photographs for media use, please contact:

Neil Robinson
Director of Global Communications
ABP (London) Investment Ltd
T: +44 (0) 203 8188 540


Sadiq Khan
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan described the start of construction as “earth shivering”.

Share this article