Despite a series of concerns in recent months about the strength of the Chinese economy and the draw of London post-Brexit , the £1.7billion project to regenerate Royal Albert Dock has taken a key step forward with a commitment to proceed.
A delegation of Chinese investors flew over to inspect the 35-acre site to the north of the Dock, where the ABP Business Park is planned. The aim is to lure Asian companies to the Royal Docks with both Crossrail and the London City Airport key.
The GLA’s new deputy mayor for housing James Murray said: “This is an important step towards creating the new Royal Albert Dock as a centre for businesses, shops and housing.
“Despite the recent decision to leave the European Union, this reminds us that London is open and is the best place in the world to do business. This exciting development will act as a beacon for investment in the capital and the UK economy.”
The occasion was the official appointment of CITIC Construction as the main contractor for the regeneration work with Brookfield Multiplex as the principal sub-contractor on the project.
With these companies in place there is now an agreement with the Greater London Authority to start enabling works by the end of the year.
The announcements came when Wang Jiong, vice chairman and president of Chinese conglomerate CITIC Ltd flew in from China with nine senior executives to see the beginning of the enabling works.
The delegation were joined by ABP chairman Xu Weiping, and chief executive of London Borough of Newham Kim Bromley-Derry.
Around 20 people from CITIC Construction and Brookfield Multiplex , based at the historic Compressor House building on site, have already started work scoping the construction programme for the first phase.
The enabling works are being undertaken by contractor Careys at a cost of £2million and will take around 14 weeks to complete before the full construction gets underway. There will be up to 700 construction workers on-site at the peak of the main construction programme.
Chairman of ABP Global Group Xu Weiping said: “The bilateral exchanges between China and the UK have never been stronger and the progress of the project demonstrates ABP’s commitment of creating London’s next business district at Royal Albert Dock and creating better life and more jobs to the area by promoting the trade between UK and Asia.”
A spokesperson for Brookfield Multiplex said “This is an opportunity for two global construction businesses to work together and collectively deliver on the vision of ABP. This ground breaking delivery model will potentially set the high bar for future developments to follow.”
ABP announced that CITIC was backing the Royal Albert Dock project in October 2015 with an agreement signed by the CITIC Construction and ABP and witnessed by Chinese President Xi Jinping and former Prime Minister David Cameron. Since then discussions have been taking place for CITIC Construction to be officially appointed main contractor.
Mayor of Newham Sir Robin Wales said: “It is great that we can be certain of ABP’s commitment to this development.
“Within just a few years we will all be reaping the benefits of this new business district which will bring life and energy back to the Royal Docks, and put them at the heart of the country’s economy once again.”
The plan was first revealed in May 2013 with the prospect of 30,000 jobs with a £6billion benefit to the local economy.