A protected wharf in the Docklands will be put back to work after its £3million acquisition by the Port of London Authority.

Peruvian Wharf, near the Tate and Lyle Plant in Silvertown, will be developed as a centre for low-carbon transport of building materials.

The wharf has been protected since 1997 under the Mayor of London’s policy to safeguard strategically placed wharves for cargo handling – a policy which has come under pressure from the growing desire to build homes on the waterfront.

The PLA has taken over the site after a battle over its planning status with the former landowner who failed to re-activate it for cargo-handling.

PLA chief executive Robin Mortimer said: “We’ve fought long and hard to get Peruvian Wharf back into use. It’s ideally placed to service east London’s growth. This will help keep tens of thousands of lorries off London’s roads every year, reducing air pollution and improving local people’s quality of life.”

PLA chief executive Robin Mortimer

The PLA will build a new access road to the site before it is leased by building materials specialist the Brett Group. Brett will develop a terminal on the site, which is expected to be operational late in 2017.

Deputy mayor for transport Val Shawcross said: “Over two million tonnes of cargo are moved between wharves on the Thames each year. This keeps more than 150,000 lorry trips off London’s roads, reducing congestion and pollution.”

Safeguarded wharves

Fifty wharves on the Thames have been safeguarded for cargo-handling use by the Secretary of State for Transport. Peruvian Wharf is one of three vacant wharves promoted within the PLA’s strategic Thames Vision, to be brought back into long-term use.

The others are Hurlingham Wharf in Hammersmith & Fulham, currently being used for the Tideway Tunnel project, and Orchard Wharf in the shadow of Canary Wharf.

This site, neighbouring East India Dock Basin has been the subject of an intense battle over its use, with Virginia Quay residents protesting at a previous plan to build a concrete batching plant on the site.

The Court of Appeal upheld a High Court decision to quash the PLA's compulsory purchase order on Orchard Wharf in July. The case had been brought by landowners Grafton Group which wanted the area for housing.