Development will also include more than 200 affordable homes on long-vacant site

Screenshot 2024-06-05 103900

Source: Regal

Roughly 35% of the accommodation will be designated affordable

Howells has submitted plans for a 1,365-bed student accommodation scheme opposite the O2 Arena for developer Regal.

The site, known as Orchard Wharf, has been vacant for more than 20 years and is located between London City Island and Trinity Buoy Wharf. 

The developer also plans to deliver 208 affordable homes and a 7,524 sq m wharf and logistics centre on the 2.3ha riverside plot. 

Thames Clipper Logistics have agreed outline lease terms with Regal which will see them operate the proposed warehouse and reactivated wharf. 

> Also read: Howells working on plans for seven-tower scheme opposite O2 Arena

This high-frequency, all-tide service, which will use a roll-on-roll-off cargo vessel, is part of its wider strategy to develop a high-speed light river freight logistics service transporting cargo on behalf of businesses. 

The scheme also includes a ground-floor cafe, community hub and 7,400sq m of new open space.  

Regal said it had submitted a planning application in May, although documents do not currently appear on Tower Hamlets’ planning portal. 

According to early proposals included in a technical document submitted to the council earlier this year, the scheme could include seven towers up to 30 storeys in height. 

The plans would involve the demolition of all existing buildings on the site, including two warehouses.  

The project team also includes Montagu Evans as planning consultant, Aukett Swanke as wharf architect, SpaceHub as landscape architect and Beckett Rankine as marine engineer. 

Regal expects to have permission in place by early 2025.  

The developer previously lodged JTP-designed proposals for the site in 2020, but later withdrew this application, bringing on architect Howells to draw up fresh plans.  

Steve Harrington, planning director at Regal: “Orchard Wharf has been a real labour of love, and we are delighted to present our wider vision to deliver a new riverside neighbourhood with significant student and affordable housing, relieving the pressures on the housing stock in Tower Hamlets – all alongside a reactivated working wharf.  

“Regal, with Thames Clipper Logistics, will play a key part in further bringing the River Thames into use to support a more sustainable London for the future.” 

William Poole, partner at Howells, said the proposal “continues the vibrant character of industrial brick buildings that has come to define the Leamouth neighbourhood over the last decade”. 

The scheme would fill out what space remains on the southern branch of the Leamouth peninsula, a spit of formerly industrial land which is bordered by the Thames river, the East India Dock basin and Bow Creek. 

Ballymore has already developed the eastern and northern parts of the peninsula, with the 841-home Goodluck Hope scheme, designed by Allies & Morrison, and the 1,700-home London City Island scheme, designed by Howells. 

Earlier this year, Transport for London launched a tender process to find a development partner for a 1,500-home scheme on the neighbouring Limmo peninsula, a vacant 5ha triangle of land on the other side of Bow Creek.