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Last Updated: Friday, 5 August 2005, 05:31 GMT 06:31 UK
Developers see London's eastern promise
By Emma Griffiths
BBC News Website, London

East London, where towering skyscrapers stand alongside some of the UK's most deprived areas, is to be transformed over the next two decades. Here the BBC News website takes a look at some of the plans in store.

The model of London, picture by Jonny Thompson
A glimpse of London's future?
In a side street off central London's busy Tottenham Court Road, a huge model of a future London stretches across the floor of The Building Centre.

Stripped of the people, traffic, noise, crime and the weather, it offers a sanitised, bird's eye view of what the English capital might look like in 20 years' time.

While today's London is reconstructed to scale in grey plastic, tomorrow's skyscrapers, stadiums, hotels, flats and stations stand out in white.

These are some of the "mega developments" expected to transform London over the next two decades, as an estimated 100bn is spent during one of the biggest periods of change since Victorian times.

To the east, where today Tube lines and Thames bridges peter out, there are noticeably more white bits.

Areas hit by the post-war departure of manufacturing, industrial production and the decline of the docks, are to be reborn, as planners brace for the anticipated 800,000 increase in London's population by 2016.

A look at some of other "mega developments" from across the whole of London.

The East End and beyond are at the heart of plans to house the city's expanding population, host the 2012 Olympics, and give the economy a shot in the arm.

And it's not just those blocks on the map, which mark out developments with planning permission - other plans are in the pipeline for the east.

"There's an awful lot happening in the East End and, I think, worryingly little in the west," said New London Architecture curator Peter Murray.

"It is the mayor's policy to use development to regenerate the east, which does have large chunks of impoverished places."

Here are some of the developments expected to transform east London.

THAMES GATEWAY

Said to be western Europe's biggest regeneration scheme, the Thames Gateway stretches over 311 sq miles - covering an area about half the size of London.

It runs from London's Lower Lea Valley, just miles from the city's economic heartland, 40 miles east along the Thames into Essex and Kent.

Current thinking is to build 120,000 new homes in the area by 2016, along with new schools, sports facilities, businesses, health centres, parks, and transport links, among other things.

With its 15 square miles of brownfield sites - former docks, warehouses, industrial and quarrying sites - it is seen as a prime development opportunity.

If done properly, Prime Minister Tony Blair has said the area could become an important link with Europe and boost the country's economy. It would also make room for much of the anticipated population increase.

But there are many concerns about the plans ranging from the quality of housing planned, investment pledged, urban sprawl and the risk of flooding.

STRATFORD CITY

Stratford City, picture courtesy of New London Architecture
Stratford City is among the most ambitious developments
Over the next 15 years a new metropolitan centre will be created in the East End. Stratford City was London's largest planning application covering 1.2m sq metres of "largely derelict" land, two miles north of Canary Wharf.

More than 100 shops, three big department stores, cafes, schools, hotels, parks and health centres will be built.

A set of new urban districts will house an extra 11,000 residents and 30,000 workers. It may also house some of the 2012 Olympic athletes.

It will have a direct rail link to Paris, thanks to its new station for the Channel Tunnel Rail Link and is earmarked as a stop for Crossrail.

LONDON 2012

London Aquatic Centre, picture courtesy of New London Architecture
The aquatic centre will be among developments in Stratford
Just next to Stratford City, plans for the 2012 Olympic Games are centred on a 500-acre site.

The Olympic Village will include accommodation for 16,000 people, the main stadium, an aquatic centre with two 50m pools, four indoor arenas, a velo park, hockey centre and another, temporary, arena.

After the Games 3,600 flats will go on the market, some aimed at key workers, and most of the sports facilities will stay - supporters say they will also bring transport improvements, new trees and parks and the River Lea will be cleaned up.

But some river users say some common land and trees will be lost and wildlife habitats threatened while hundreds of businesses on the Marshgate Lane trading estate are due to be bulldozed to make way for Games.

BIGGEST WIND FARM

Map showing proposed location of the wind farm
There are plans afoot to build the world's biggest wind farm in the Thames estuary, to the east of London, halfway between the Kent and Essex coasts.

The 270 turbines would be built over 152 sq miles (245 sq km) on a sandbank, but should be practically out of sight as they would be 12 miles (20km) off shore, linked by cables into the National Grid's transmission system in Kent.

They could generate up to 1,000 megawatts of renewable electricity, enough to supply a quarter of London's homes and help the government meet green targets.

But there have been some concerns about shipping and the fate of a population of rare red-throated divers, up to 7,000 of which use the sandbank as a winter feeding area.

If plans are approved, the wind farm could be in place by 2011.

TRANSPORT

Guide to the Channel Tunnel Rail Link, due to open in 2007

A public inquiry has begun into plans for the 455m six-lane toll bridge, the Thames Gateway Bridge, which would link Newham with Greenwich.

The mayor thinks it a crucial part of getting people to travel to new Thames Gateway jobs and homes, but environmentalists and some local residents fear it will bring a massive increase in traffic.

Crossrail, the multi-billion pound rail link from Berkshire to Essex through underground tunnels in London, would include stops at Stratford and the Isle of Dogs, due to open in 2013.

By 2007 Stratford is expected to have its own international station, linking it to Paris and to the revamped St Pancras station in central London, thanks to the Channel Tunnel Rail Link.

And work is due to begin on the East London Line extension - from Dalston to Croydon via Crystal Palace - in 2005 and finish by June 2010. Later the plan is to extend it further north to Highbury and Islington and west to Clapham Junction.


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