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Wharf purchase set to support London’s growing economy

The Secretary of State for Transport has confirmed the Port of London Authority’s (PLA) application to buy Orchard Wharf in Tower Hamlets, east London, in a move that will support London’s economic growth and increased use of the Thames.

Last year over five million tonnes of material was moved on the Thames, saving over 265,000 lorry trips in and around London. This level of river use depends on a network of cargo handling wharves along the Thames, protected from other development by the Mayor of London’s London Plan, which safeguards them for port use.

Orchard Wharf has been unused for over 15 years. The case for the ‘compulsory purchase’ of the wharf was heard at a public inquiry last year. The planning inspector said the PLA demonstrated Orchard Wharf was navigationally viable, and well placed to supply London’s growing construction sector.

PLA director of planning and environment, James Trimmer, said:

“Over the last five years we’ve seen the use of the river through London to move freight grow from two million tonnes a year to five million tonnes in 2013. That kind of growth is only possible if you’ve got the wharves on which to handle the cargo. That’s why the Mayor’s policy of safeguarding wharves is so important. The Inspector found the case for us to buy the wharf compelling.

“We can now focus on getting Orchard Wharf back into use. This is part of our wider strategy to increase use of the river through diversifying the PLA's commercial activities."

The final design for Orchard Wharf is being developed and will be submitted for planning approval.

Notes to Editors:

  • The PLA manages navigational safety and related matters on 95 miles of the tidal Thames from west London, through the capital, and out to the Thames Estuary and the sea
  • More information: www.pla.co.uk; @LondonPortAuth
  • To view our film about the Thames and the PLA click here