The Thames Estuary is familiar to most as an area of shipping, fishing and industry. Stanley Kubrick considered the area so bleak that he filmed scenes of 'Full Metal Jacket' at a derelict gas works in Beckton, but things could be about to change for this stretch of post-industrial London. Mayor of London Sadiq Khan unveiled new plans this week to transform a 40-mile stretch of the estuary, from Canary Wharf to Southend, Essex and Thanet, Kent, into a ‘global centre of excellence for the creative industries’.
Among the large-scale developments planned are a theatre-making studio in Bexley, a centre for experiential arts in Woolwich and a state-of-the-art foundry for manufacturing large-scale artworks and sculptures – including the UK’s biggest 3D printing centre – in Silvertown.
Although only at the planning stage right now, Sadiq has been quick off the mark to commission a study into building London's largest film production studios for 25 years in Dagenham East. The London City Island on the Leamouth Peninsula is also set to become part of all the arty action and will soon be home to the English National Ballet’s production and training centre and the London Film School.
The scheme would be one of the biggest redevelopment projects in London since the docklands were transformed into a financial hub in the '80s and will support the creative and cultural industries contribute a whopping £35 billion a year to the capital.
Sadiq said: 'London leads the way across the creative economy — from fashion to film, design to gaming, performing arts to the visual arts. It’s only right that we build on this success and transform the Thames Estuary into a world-class centre for creative production — leading global innovation, developing the talent of the future and cultivating world-changing ideas.'