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The masterplan site includes the areas of Poplar and Canary Wharf. Both these areas have distinct identities and operate in very unique ways. To the south, Canary Wharf is a high-density business and financial hub of national and international importance. North of Aspen Way, Poplar is an established, vibrant, multicultural low to medium residential area. So that the masterplan complements and provides a transition between these two communities, we have defined local character areas.
The proposed masterplan character strategy begins by looking at what exists and how this could be enhanced. By defining local character areas, the masterplan aims to focus on what unique assets exist already, so the area continues to grow as a distinctive series of interconnected places and homogeneous new development is avoided.
The below drawing outlines the local character areas within and around the masterplan which have been defined to respond to existing qualities. This includes the dock edge, Poplar High Street, Poplar Station and Canary Wharf.
Existing and proposed character areas
(1) Canary Wharf: Canary Wharf is a key global employment centre with a high density of office space. There has also been an increase in the number of leisure and residential-led developments. The planned opening of the Elizabeth Line at the new Canary Wharf Crossrail station provides significant opportunity for connectivity across the wider area.
(2) North Quay: The southern portion of the masterplan area should contribute to strengthening Canary Wharf as a global business centre while making it a more vibrant, attractive destination. Although office space will continue to be a major part of the character, it should be mixed with food and beverage, retail, community, and residential uses so the area becomes an active place in the daytime and evening. This area falls within the Canary Wharf tall building zone, in which tall buildings are considered appropriate. However, new tall buildings must step down from 1 Canada Square, providing a transition to the residential context of Blackwall and Poplar.
(3) Dockside: North Dock is one of the masterplan site’s greatest assets. The new hard-landscaped dockside promenade should reflect the area’s industrial heritage and provide places to sit and enjoy views to the water. Ground floor uses should animate and activate the space for example with cafes, restaurants, and retail.
(4) Aspen Way: A major highway which supports the economy of London, Aspen Way is also a significant barrier and source of noise and air pollution. Upgraded existing and new bridge connections should create attractive walking and cycling routes with planting and seating. New development facing Aspen Way should act as a buffer to internal streets.
Creating a new landscaped connection across Aspen Way and incorporating taller elements into urban blocks with active ground floors that animate streetscapes.
(5) Station Gateway: Improve the existing access to Poplar Station with a hard-landscaped stepped and ramped route incorporating planting and seating. In the future, there is also potential for a secondary eastern station entrance and public square at the landing of the new bridge over Aspen Way.
(6) Blackwall Edge: The Blackwall area is a predominantly residential area undergoing substantial change and transformation. Its edge should act as an interface between taller and denser development in Canary Wharf and the residential context of Poplar and Blackwall.
(7) Poplar Neighbourhood Centre: Poplar Centre currently offers a mix of shops, food and drink premises and local services but is somewhat hindered by vehicular traffic and poor-quality pedestrian experience particularly at the junction with Cotton Street. New ground floor uses should contribute to active streetscapes and improved pedestrian experience.
(8) St Matthias: New development within and adjacent to St. Matthias Conservation Area must positively interface with historic buildings and context. There already exists a concentration of community uses around Poplar Park which has the potential to become a vibrant community hub.
(9) All Saints: The area surrounding All Saints Church extending south of Poplar High Street is predominantly characterised by low to mid-rise, post-war social housing. Any redevelopment in the area must be sensitive to the existing residential and historic contexts of both the All Saints Church Poplar and the St. Matthias Conservation areas.
In addition to defining character areas, the masterplan will develop a heights strategy for the area to mediate between the tall buildings within Canary Wharf and the lower scale context of South Poplar. In this regard, the development of tall buildings will be addressed as part of the masterplan.
Tall buildings can positively contribute to the local economy and environment by delivering growth for much needed homes and other valued uses, however tall buildings can also cause considerable harm to the character and identity of an area through individual or cumulative developments.
The masterplan's proposed indicative heights strategy has been prepared in response to surrounding sensitivities and existing local and regional planning policies.
Proposed heights strategy
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