Bow Goods Yard

The last piece of the Olympic Legacy Jigsaw and the last heavy industrial site in the London Legacy development Corporation Area.

Bow Goods Yard is the missing piece of the Olympic Legacy and one of the few strategic railheads in London. Nestled between the A12, the rail corridor to Stratford, the River Lea and the Greenway, Bow Goods Yard today feels island-like and disconnected. Bow Goods Yard is also on the doorstep of the new, exciting opportunities emerging in and around Stratford and directly facing the newest large park of London, the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. With the new masterplan Network Rail aims to maximise the opportunity of the railhead in a more compact and modern terminal, and to unlock space to deliver light industrial, workspace, logistics, and leisure alongside it. Bow Goods yard will host a new Network Rail Hub that brings together their offices and maintenance and delivery units, and will form a new front to the park, together with a sequence of public spaces and improved links to nearby neighbourhoods. As the last major site of the Olympic Legacy Bow Goods Yard will deliver a key component of the legacy plan, progressive employment opportunities, and will complement the leisure offer around the Olympic Park.

An industrious belly and a charms bracelet of public spaces

Bow Goods Yard will become the belly of London, the place where things are made and where goods are shipped in and shipped out. However, Bow Goods Yard is also embedded in expansive green and blue infrastructure, with links into a city-wide active travel network that spans from Hackney Marshes to the Thames and from Beckton to Regents Park. The landscape surrounds this industrious belly and connects it to these wider ecological and movement networks beyond the red-line boundary. A series of public landscape ‘charms’ will surround the edges of the site forming a ‘bracelet’. The bracelet will provide animation and overlooking to the Greenway and Marshgate Lane, with charms of civic public spaces interspersed along their length. Along the River Lea, the bracelet will embrace the wilderness of the river and celebrate its other worldliness leaving space for nature and tranquillity.

Community brief

As part of an extensive public engagement programme, the communities surrounding BGY have co-created a community brief with input from more than 500 people. The community brief became integral part of the project brief and was used to appraise design options. The core priorities identified in the community brief and embedded in the project are:

  • Make industrial uses a better neighbour – The local communities recognised that some heavy industrial uses play a critical part in London’s economy and need to be retained within the Capital. The challenge, however, is that these uses are not suitable to mingle with due to their heavy-duty nature, and some residents were concerned about their proximity to the homes and open spaces. Careful thinking has influenced the location, layout, and buffering of heavy industrial function to mitigate any adverse impacts on sensitive uses in the surroundings.
  • Create better connections and safer routes with green, wild, usable landscape – We learnt from residents that this part of East London can feel disjointed and hard to get around. Women, girls and gender non-conforming people feel especially vulnerable in some of these areas. The masterplan establishes a network of legible, safe, and overlooked routes and spaces that follow the pedestrian and cycle desire lines and embed inclusive design principles. The focus of the masterplan has been on animating and framing the Greenway as the key movement corridor of the wider area, balancing its active travel and ecological character.
  • Offer benefits to the community – The proposal will offer several benefits to the local communities including new job opportunities, leisure uses and amenities. Currently the site only supports around 100 jobs, the proposed plan could support up to 5,000 jobs. The optimised rail freight component will support London’s transformation into a greener and less polluted city, removing up to 54,000 HGV each year from London’s roads.

Past and future of industrial London

Bow Goods Yard has been an important industrial and rail freight site since the 1800s. The site is designated as strategic industrial land because it contains one of the few remaining rail heads in London. The rail head serves a strategic freight function as it allows movement of construction materials through the railway network in and out of London, reducing congestion on London’s busy roads. Rail freight is also a more sustainable alternative to moving goods by road substantially reducing the emissions associated. The rail freight infrastructure will be optimised, with greater freight and storage capacity accommodated on a much smaller footprint. The masterplan also considers opportunities to innovate, safeguarding space for logistics mode that are still in their infancy in the UK. The masterplan incudes an express freight terminal with a rail-connected warehouse, which allow to handle goods in small container.

Regenerative Ambition

Bow Goods Yard is underpinned by a long-term regenerative ambition to move beyond a sustainable/neutral position to progressively achieve a net positive impact, giving back more to the community and ecosystems than what it takes. The goal of the development is to operate within the planet’s ecological ceiling, whilst building a strong social foundation in East London’s local context. The project recognises the challenges of achieving these aspirations within the current market, however, it establishes a framework that enables these targets to be met through the long project timescale.

Bow Goods Yard Regenerative Framework is structured around three objectives:

  • Foster circular innovation – by reactivating the industrial heritage of East London and unlocking state-of-the art freight facilities with the potential to fuel greener growth. As an example, the new express rail freight terminal could remove up to 54,000 HGV movements per annum from London’s Streets.
  • Connect people and nature – by enabling new connections with the Greenway, protecting biodiversity hotspots on site, adopting nature-based solutions for drainage, and improving the local microclimate for a healthier place.
  • Secure a just transition – by pushing boundaries on the net zero carbon transition for industrial-led development, whilst promoting social equity and engagement with the local community.

Three Character Areas

The masterplan establishes three character areas with unique spatial and functional characteristics, which also respond to their location and surroundings

  • Bazalgette Yards – Set in front of the Greenway and on the doorstep of the QEP, Bazalgette Yards are focused on workspace and leisure. With a playful and vibrant character, they form prominent edge that balances overlooking and animation with protecting the natural assets of the Greenway.
  • Red Rose Works – Just like Shoreditch, and Hackney Wick of the bygone era but permanent, this industrious heart of the project can become the hard-working environment that caters for London and for Londoners. Red Rose Works will be an industrial quarter with efficient industrial and logistic buildings, which remain integrated with the city, forming urbane fronts and pleasant green streets.

Bow Works – Some uses critical to the functioning of the city are not suitable for mingling with. Bow Works is the industrial core of the scheme that accommodates heavy industrial, and freight uses. It will remain an enclosed environment in which the heavier industrial uses can safely operating while minimising impact on their neighbours.