Interview: Deirdra Armsby from Newham Council

Mon 26th November 2012, 3:37 pm

The Sitematch London team speaks to Newham's head of strategy and investment Deirdra Armsby about development and regeneration in the east London Borough.

Q. What is your role at the Council?

A. My current role at Newham is head of strategy and investment. I lead on the production of the development plan and all other planning and regeneration policy matters, including crafting responses to the planning reform agenda. The team also has responsibility for section 106 monitoring and community infrastructure levy production and geo-spatial services.

Q. If an investor or developer is looking for development sites in Newham, what types of sites are available?

A. Sites in Newham in public ownership equate to a development opportunity 83 times the size of the Olympic Park and cover a range of opportunity in terms of the quantity of developable land and the scope for high quality innovative schemes. For example, most of the sites in the Royal Docks Enterprise Zone are in Greater London Authority ownership. We work in close collaboration with the GLA to achieve the delivery of these staggering opportunities, and developers can be assured of an integrated delivery focused team to work with. The Newham local plan core strategy identifies 22 strategic sites working to deliver at least 20,000 jobs and 37,500 during the plan period (2027). Newham's sustainable development is highly focused on jobs delivery against a backdrop of quality improvements to the built environment. To meet the needs of our residents many of these sites have a mixed-use designation to allow for maximum flexibility and prospect of delivery.

Q. Why should a developer invest in Newham?

A. East London is an important strategic development and regeneration priority for London for the next 25 years, according to the London Plan. London as a city is moving east and Newham is at the heart of the east London offer. Newham has unmatched attributes, amazing connectivity including an international station, 4 tube lines, regional overground services, DLR and London City Airport. Crossrail will stop at five stations in Newham from 2018. There is a river frontage affording water connectivity and the unique man made water environment of the Royal Docks. We are the only London Borough with total high speed broadband. To make best use of these attributes we have a strong vision and sites to implement. The planning and regeneration service is equipped to deliver to investors in a clear, consistent and collaborative fashion.

Q. What is Newham doing to make the borough more attractive to developers?

A. We offer an integrated planning service and pay close attention to our development investors. There is a strong track record of working effectively, for example having a high performing development management service.  Newham works consistently with key partners such as the GLA , and formerly the London Thames Gateway Development Corporation and Olympic Delivery Authority and for the future the London Legacy Development Corporation. The Siemens investment in Newham was delivered in record time because we are equipped to deliver and committed to meeting the needs of our investors.

Q. Which key developments are currently in the pipeline? And are there any sites that will be marketed soon?

A. Current developments are Silvertown Quays (development value £1.2 billion), Royal Albert Basin and Royal Albert Dock, Canning Town regeneration programme and Area 7 town centre development (development value £600m and £70m for Rathbone market). There are a range of development opportunities coming forward soon in Newham's "arc of opportunity" in particular Stratford, Royal Docks and Canning Town.

Q. How is Newham building upon the “Olympic legacy”?  What are the opportunities and challenges to overcome?

A. The Olympic legacy for Newham is not confined to the development of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, though that is a key objective. Of equal importance is to ensure the legacy ripples out to east London and helps to deliver convergence with the living standards of London as a whole. We are therefore in the enviable position of hosting opportunities inside and outside of the LLDC administrative area which will provide legacy projects. The most successful Olympics in recent memory gave us a window to the world. Newham wants to capture this global interest and showcase the opportunities from the combination of our unique connectivity coupled with unmatched scale of developable land.

Q. How does the Royal Docks Enterprise Zone benefit business? Are you looking to attract or stimulate any particular type of business?

A. The Royal Docks Enterprise Zone offers a package of benefits to business including enhanced capital allowances on the Royal Albert Dock site and business rate relief (£55,000 per annum) if business occupies in the zone before 1 April 2015. These specific benefits of the scheme must be seen in the context of the wider area and the focus for business in east London as a whole as well as the opportunity to build on initial investments as the area develops over the next 20-30 years. The nature of the opportunity is open-ended, providing for investments over all timescales. We are interested in knowledge economy, green enterprise including life sciences, smart manufacturing and enterprise incubation in the context that we are open for business to create jobs within a 21st century borough for residents, business and new investors.

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