Chinese investors are set to breathe fresh life into East London in the coming decade. Later this year, the company Advanced Business Park (ABP) will begin the construction of the Asian Business Port, a new commercial development at London’s Royal Docks, creating a brand new business hub that’s tipped to rival Canary Wharf in terms of not only its size, but also its influence on international trade relations.
The main aim of the Asian Business District is to give Asian companies a route to the UK and European markets and strengthen ties between the two regions. Those looking to expand into our continent will benefit from having a secure foothold in a key location, while European companies keen to expand to the East will also be able to establish strong trade relationships from a central base.
ABP claims that it will invest over £1bn into the project, which will be comprised of apartments, commercial offices and townhouses across 3.2 million square feet of new construction. The first phase, set to introduce 600,000 square feet of homes and offices, is on track to complete by 2017.
Realising Boris Johnson’s vision
London’s current Conservative Mayor, Boris Johnson, is the lead driving force behind the Asian Business District. Not blind to the tremendous growth of Asian economies in recent years, Boris displayed an unrelenting desire to attract Chinese investors to the capital and rallied a considerable amount of support from the government for the strategic regeneration of the Royal Docks (which conversely was identified as London’s only Enterprise Zone way back in April 2012). He even went so far as to block expansion of London City Airport in order to secure ABP’s vision.
The completion of the Asian Business District will ensure Boris truly leaves a transformative mark on the city when he eventually leaves term.
The implications for East London
So how will the development affect the local community, and, crucially, the economy?
The project is taking place in the London Borough of Newham, which is one of the most disadvantaged areas in the country. Investment in Newham, and more specifically the Royal Albert Dock, has been scarce to date, resulting in a desolate and under-utilised space along the banks of the Thames that pays a sad homage to the area’s thriving trading days, when it was considered a key international port at the height of the British Empire.
The 20,000 jobs that the Asian Business District is set to create will provide a much-needed boost to local employment, and much of the £6bn that these workers are expected to contribute to London’s overall economy will be invested back into rejuvenating an important part of East London that’s certainly been overlooked in recent years.
As part of the regeneration work, Ballymore and Oxley Holdings, a Singapore-based firm, will be developing several thousand new homes through their Royal Wharf development project. Buy-to-let investors, then, should be inclined to keep a close eye on these properties, which are set to be in particularly high demand due to the area’s exceptional transport links, which will be strengthened further by the timely introduction of Crossrail in 2018.