Plans have been revealed for the first new shipyard on London's Thames River in over a century – a project which is expected to help reinvigorate shipbuilding in the UK and support hundreds of jobs.
The Port of London Authority (PLA) is working with property developers London & Regional and the Royal Docks Team (RDT) to deliver the new shipyard at Albert Island in the London Borough of Newham. The shipyard is expected to feature a boat lift and other infrastructure.
Use of the Thames has been growing rapidly in recent years, with increasing passenger services, barge movements and deep-sea trade, said the PLA. The planned shipyard forms part of Albert Island, London & Regional's 25-acre, multimillion-pound industrial regeneration scheme in the Royal Docks.
Development of a London shipyard is in line with wider Government moves to reinvigorate shipbuilding in the UK, added the PLA. An updated National Shipbuilding Strategy is also due to be released later this year. This is expected to take in broader merchant and other vessels, alongside the current strategy's focus on vessels for the Royal Navy.
PLA chief executive Robin Mortimer said: 'The Thames has been the centre of a river renaissance over the last decade, with continuing investment in new vessels and services of all kinds. This shipyard opportunity has major significance, as it will put the essential repair and maintenance facilities at the heart of the busy river. Once developed it will mean services can be provided swiftly, saving operators time taking vessels to yards off the river and minimising downtime.'
News of the planned development has been welcomed by the government, the Greater London Authority (GLA) and the London Borough of Newham.
Maritime Minister Robert Courts MP said: 'As an island nation, shipbuilding has long been a source of pride for the UK and it’s encouraging to see the industry continue to grow.
'Building this new shipyard is a fantastic opportunity to support hundreds of jobs in the UK and forge ahead with the Government’s ambition to reinvigorate shipbuilding right across the country.'
The GLA supports development of the new strategic-scale boatyard through the London Plan. The centre would be a transport engineering hub and will benefit from significant investment already underway across the area, including transport infrastructure and local education and training provision.
The PLA is currently seeking expressions of interest by 16 July from potential operators of the 3.3-acre facility, which has outline planning permission.