Chinese firm invests £1bn in London Docklands regeneration

by Jak Phillips | 17 Feb 2015

Plans to create a third financial district in London – to rival the City and Canary Wharf – have taken a significant step forward after a Chinese investment firm announced backing to the tune of £1bn (US$1.5bn, €1.4bn).

China Minsheng Investment Corp Ltd, the mainland country’s largest private investment firm, will join Chinese developer Advanced Business Park (ABP) on the Farrells-designed project, which aims to transform the historic Royal Albert Dock into a mixed use business and finance hub.

Touted as a gateway district for Asian firms seeking to invest overseas, plans have been approved to transform the vacant, 35-acre site into a financial district including leisure, retail and office space. There will also be eight new public squares and more than 1km of “activated waterfront” along the River Thames.

The site lies within the Royal Albert Dock Enterprise Zone and when complete will have multiple transport connections in the capital via the DLR, London City Airport, the road network and Crossrail, which will be complete in 2018.

“The investment is a strategically important beginning for our exploration in the European market,” said Minsheng CEO Li Huaizhen. “We will work with global companies to bolster Chinese firms’ global drive.”

Plans were first unveiled for the site in 2013 by ABP and London mayor Boris Johnson. The scheme won planning approval from Newham Borough Council in July 2014, with the expectation that it would add 20,000 jobs and £6bn (US$9.2bn, €8.1bn) to the local economy.

However, the project came under scrutiny in November 2014, when a Channel 4 News report raised concerns over whether ABP received favourable treatment when bidding for the plot. Calls for an independent audit were dismissed by Johnson, who said the Greater London Authority’s internal audit team had already looked into the tendering process and concluded that there is ‘substantial assurance.’

Work is expected to begin on the site later this year, with the first phase due to be complete in 2017.

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Plans to create a third financial district in London – to rival the City and Canary Wharf – have taken a significant step forward after a Chinese investment firm announced backing to the tune of £1bn (US$1.5bn, €1.4bn). China Minsheng Investment Corp Ltd, the mainland country’s largest private investment firm, will join Chinese developer Advanced Business Park (ABP) on the Farrells-designed project, which aims to transform the historic Royal Albert
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Sir Terry Farrell’s design for a new financial district for London / Farrells
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