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Raising the Royals standard

Just because LDDC goes out of business on 31 March does not mean the end of opportunities for civil engineers. There is still much to be done in the Royal Docks.

Gareth Bendan, head of LDDCs chief executives office, admits that the Royals have come at the back of the queue. Regeneration of Docklands has tended to take place from west to east, he explains.

There is no doubt that much has already been achieved in the Royals. A massive 400M has been intested in transport access. It has made the area, into a very accessible part of London, says Bendan.

Highways connect into nearby strategic routes and the Docklands Light Railway was extended out to Beckton in 1994. Although this is running as just a single car service, it will be expanded when demand picks up. The Royal Docks are also home to London City Airport (see page 24).

But this is not enough, says Bendan. We have further ambitious schemes which in our view need to be carried forward. It is only with the completion of these schemes that regeneration will become self-sustaining, he stresses.

The most significant infrastructure project is the Thames Gateway crossing the replacement for the abandoned East London River Crossing one of three crossings which LDDC hopes will form a PFI package (see page 28).

Bendan stresses the importance of upgrading the A13/ A406 junction at the end of the northern approach to ELRIC which was shelved with the rest of that project. These junction improvements are vital to support development in the Royals, he says, and should be packaged with the Thames Gateway crossing.

DLR also has some ideas up its sleeve and construction of a 30M link to City Airport looks set to go ahead.

Other services such as sewerage and power are also essential to attract development. Bendan reports that drainage in the area was completed late last year. There are bits and pieces of water supply still to do, but nothing significant.

The current focus of attention is electricity supply. We are contemplating ways to reduce the very high costs, he says. In the Royals we will not go down the conventional route and pay for 100% capacity from an electricity company.

Instead, LDDC plans to promote a local network using embedded generators and augment supplies by tapping into the national grid.

Refurbishment of the docks themselves is a vital part of transforming the area. What we inherited from the Port of London Authority and the Luftwaffe was not a system in good condition, says Bendan. There were still bomb craters until a few years ago.

LDDC has poured in a great deal of resources into refurbishing the docks while ensuring that a strong element of the industrial structures and artefacts are preserved.

Leisure at the Royals is really taking off and eventually the docks will host a sailing centre, water skiing and a world class rowing course.

With all this work in train, the barren land around the docks is finally attracting developers.

Bendan reels off an impressive list: Norton Healthcare is building its European headquarters at the eastern end; English Partnerships will market the 16ha second phase of the urban village at West Silvertown; the 900,000m2 Excel Exhibition Centre was signed up last month and the Royals campus for the University of East London starts on site in March.

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