£1.7bn Royal Albert Dock business district is tip of the iceberg
- Credit: Archant
Fresh from an invitational trip to China, reporter Mark Shales offers an insight into the business development by firm ABP set to create thousands of new jobs in Newham with the first of his special reports.
The Royal Albert Dock could soon become London’s third business district, competing with Canary Wharf and the City, after nearly two billion pounds of foreign investment is expected to create 10,000 jobs in the area.
Construction work is set to begin later this year on creating a 35-acre (4.7m sq ft) business park – estimated to add £6bn to the capital’s economy when completed – in a £1.7bn project.
But for the area’s new Chinese owners, developers ABP, the project is small fry compared to those in their native China.
The company completed their first development in Beijing two years ago, having erected 400 large, multi-storey buildings in just 10 years.
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Based in an enterprise zone in the south of the capital, the 344-acre development is home to more than 500 companies – ranging from construction to finance and from nutrition to technology.
Although the Beijing development is more than three times the size of the upcoming Newham initiative, it is merely the tip of the iceberg when compared to the company’s other Chinese plots.
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Some 350 miles south-east of Beijing, the city of Qingdao – home of the Tsingtao Brewery – will soon be home to 1,000 enterprises in a 20million sq ft development. The city of Shenyang, 400 miles north-east of Beijing and 130 miles from the North Korean border – will boast 2,000 buildings in a plot more than 1,700 acres in size.
But even theses behemoths pale in significance when compared to the Hangzhou development, where a collection of 5,000 mixed-use buildings, including a village of retail outlets, the South Yangtze scheme is spread across 3.7sq km on the north bank of the river.
Central to all these developments is the notion of “headquarters economy”, meaning clusters of enterprises working together.
“Whenever we build a project we’re creating a district,” said Nancy Xu, CEO of APB London.
“Individual companies will join in this big party to build up the relationships with the power of the partnership.”
While this could sound threatening for the already-established local economy, John Miu, executive director of APB London, insists there will be thousands of jobs for residents of the borough.
“I would encourage everybody to employ Newham residents but it’s difficult to put a number on that at the moment,” he said.
“Out of 22,000 potential jobs I would expect close to half could come from Newham.
“We will work with Newham Council to train residents over the next 10 years through work-place schemes.”