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The development story

The planning permission granted to Vastint UK in 2012 required:

"a strong focus on employment uses, cultural and creative activities and a new residential community.”

Vastint UK adopted this vision to create a mix of uses for Sugar House Island which prioritises commercial resilience for the future community as part of its long term ownership and sustainable placemaking strategy.

We wanted to create a truly balanced community establishing a new business hub in Newham, bringing 2,500 jobs to the locality. Introducing new independent retail and amenity operators serving the wider district, will enliven the area and support its commercial viability.

The balance of residential also prioritises families, with 40% of its 1,200 homes three-bedroom or more. Previous proposals for this site mimicked the high-rise designs appearing along the High Street. In contrast, our masterplan’s  overriding aim was to bring buildings of a more human scale to this corner of east London. None of the accent blocks on the development are taller than 16 storeys, and contemporary mews houses aid permeability as well as personalising lower-scale perimeter blocks.


Infrastructure district heating

Site preparation

Site preparation

Industrial heritage

A warehouse with sawtooth roof structure and missing roof panels showing the sky beyond

Design & masterplan

A wooden large-scale model of sugar house island prepared for planning in 2012


Ducklings at the river edge at Sugar-House-Island


Community consultation undertaken at Sugar House Island as part of the planning process

Industrial heritage

A warehouse with sawtooth roof structure and missing roof panels showing the sky beyond

Another key factor determining the masterplan is Vastint UK’s aspiration to preserve and reinstate key aspects of the site’s rich industrial heritage within the fabric of the design. As well as retaining three buildings in Dane’s Yard, within The Sugar House Lane Conservation area, the arrangement of the new buildings alongside the old was very much informed by the desire to retain the alleyways, yards and spaces between the buildings which gave the area its intimate, historic feel. This could not have been achieved had we proposed fewer, more efficient commercial buildings. The combination of these buildings and the spaces between respect the collaborative nature of the creative industries to whom they are targeted. Added to this was the team’s aspiration to create a characterful neighbourhood, connected into its history and local context, not least by the retention of the three industrial chimneys that have been on site for nearly 200 years.


This proved to be more difficult than at first imagined. The chimneys’ flues needed to be properly cleaned, as did the soil underneath them. As a result, they have had to be dismantled, the bricks cleaned and stored on site until that part of the scheme is built. Once reinstated, they will provide the centrepieces to a pedestrianised retail area called “Chimney Walk” which follows the route of an old river, leading down from the creative hub in Dane’s Yard to the riverside park on the western edge of the site.

These important decisions drove up cost, but at the same time retained what we felt was an important connection to the history of the place. The team and wider stakeholders believed they were essential to the long-term revitalisation of the area; of creating a new neighbourhood which balances working, living and leisure activities while retaining its important sense of place.

Site preparation

Site preparation

With centuries of mixed industrial heritage, the site has housed numerous different industries. These have included: tar works, boiler makers, a sugar refinery, printing, paint pigment works, and a cooperage for the nearby tidal mill, which served one of London’s primary gin distilleries for generations.

A four-year programme was required to clear the existing buildings of rubbish, demolish old structures and warehouses, remove out dated infrastructure, remediate the soil, and replace 1.2km of river wall; all whilst reclaiming important elements of the site’s heritage.

In 2010 the site was still made up of multiple ownerships and dominated by industrial warehouses. During the following four years Vastint assembled all 8 land parcels to create the ‘island’ and in doing so started to clear many of the disused buildings of the tonnes of waste that had illegally been dumped here.

Demolition began in 2012. Where possible, elements of the old buildings were retained, including 90,000 London stock bricks; light fittings from some of the warehouses; granite setts from across the site as well as old iron weighbridges. These will be re-used where possible. The demolition was also halted by our natural friends. A single pipistrelle bat was seen entering an old toilet block near the centre of the site during one of the bat activity surveys.

We obtained a licence from English Nature to provide alternative homes for these unique creatures and installed two bat boxes on 1 Dane's Yard which are now happily in use. 

By 2016 the majority of the site had been cleared and remediation was underway. This involved a carefully-managed programme of selective excavation, complex sorting and cleaning. This was implemented to maximise the re-use of material and included a variety of proven methodologies including bioremediation using white rock fungi (mushrooms) with special degrading properties. These fungi were cultivated in our on-site laboratory to reduce treatment times by almost 50%. As the clean-up of each plot was completed we secured sign off from the Environment Agency that the land was ready for re-use.

Another important task to prepare the site for the forthcoming homes and offices, and to future-proof it for over 100 years, was to replace the river wall. There were over 1km of different types of river wall structures around the site, of different ages and efficacies, and in some places none at all. Whilst many of the structures would have remained structurally sound for a the foreseeable future we took the decision to replace all the river walls to minimise disruption to the community in future.


Infrastructure district heating

The physical infrastructure that is needed to deliver our vision for a neighbourhood that knits into the surrounding areas must reach out to others. We committed, via the Section 106 obligation, to the delivery of three new bridges (two pedestrian and one bus/cycle/pedestrian) and the refurbishment of a fourth.

One of the early moves to improve connectivity was the funding and implementing of a junction across the High Street at its intersection with Sugar House Lane, to offer a safe pedestrian crossing and to provide improved vehicle access to the area.

Other transport contributions include a £1m contribution to TfL for bus stops and a new/redirected bus route through the site and a fairly large landscaped area to accommodate 27 Santander Cycle docking stations.

Another element of site infrastructure requiring considerable investment and co-ordination is that of the new site-wide district heating pipes. The intention is to connect to Engie’s Olympic Park District Energy Network, providing low carbon heat. Until their hot water pipes reach the site the homes and offices will be heated by boilers in the on-site energy centre.

A particularly European twist has also been introduced to deal with waste, yes, rubbish. The first underground refuse systems have already been installed. These bins, hidden beneath the landscaping, are common in the Netherlands, Spain, Portugal, France (and, neighbouring Tower Hamlets). They have a small pillar above ground – one each for mixed recycling and general waste and are conveniently located outside the front doors of apartment blocks, for dropping off small bags on the way out of the house.


The team undertook significant community engagement to develop and refine the scheme.

As well as 1,200 homes and offices catering for 2,500 people working here, the scheme has been shaped to ensure there are benefits to all living locally. This is through new day-to-day shopping needs, cafes and restaurants as well as the collection of open spaces accessible to all.

We have planning consent for a new two-form entry primary school on the site. This was not a planning requirement, but we felt it would be important for the families we hope will buy or rent the homes at Sugar House Island.

The Local Area Map

Everything you need in walking distance.

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    • AThe View Tube
      The Greenway, Marshgate Ln, E15 2PJ
      07957 346279 | Visit website
      BThe Pie Crust
      273 High St, E15 2TF
      020 8534 2873
      CCarmelite Café
      181 Bow Rd, E3 2SJ
      020 8980 7774
      DStratford Cafè Espresso
      Ground Floor, The Lock Building, 72 High St, Stratford, E15 2QF
      EChinese Overseas Restaurant
      & Take Away
      411 High St, E15 4QZ
      FThe Last Drop
      Arcelor Mittal Orbit Restaurant
      Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
      5 Thornton St, E20 2AD
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      GStour Space
      7 Roach Rd, E3 2PA
      020 8985 7827 | Visit website
      HCrate Brewery & Pizzeria
      Crate Brewery & Pizzeria 7 The White Building, Queen's Yard, E9 5EN
      020 8533 3331 | Visit website
      IWhite Post Café and Bar
      Schwartz Wharf (Building 4), 92 White Post Ln, E9 5EN
      07779 142388 | Visit website
      JWestfield’s 65 restaurants
      Olympic Park, Montfichet Rd, E20 1EJ
      020 8221 7300 | Visit website
    • AThe Bow Bells
      116 Bow Rd, E3 3AA
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      BCoborn Arms
      8 Coborn Rd, Bow, E3 2DA
      020 8980 3793 | Visit website
      CThe Morgan Arms
      43 Morgan St, E3 5AA
      020 8980 6389 | Visit website
      DThe Lord Tredegar
      50 Lichfield Rd, E3 5AL
      020 8983 0130 | Visit website
      EThe Green Goose
      112 Anglo Rd, E3 5HD
      020 3058 3728 | Visit website
      FGalvanisers Union
      2 Devas St, E3 3LL
      020 7537 1158 | Visit website
      GRusty Bike Pub Mile End
      588 Mile End Rd, E3 4PH
      020 8981 4100 | Visit website
      HWestfield’s 10 bars
      Olympic Park, Montfichet Rd, E20 1EJ
      020 8221 7300 | Visit website
      IHowling Hops Brewery and Tank Bar
      Unit 9A Queen's Yard, White Post Ln, E9 5EN
      020 3583 8262 | Visit website
    • ATesco Superstore
      Hancock Rd, Bow, E3 3DA
      0345 677 9085 | Visit website
      BThe Co-operative
      127-131 Bow Rd, E3 2AN
      020 8981 4314 | Visit website
      CTesco Express
      150 High St, E15 2NE
      0345 671 9595 | Visit website
      DTesco Express
      1-5 Bow Rd, E3 4LU
      0345 675 7155 | Visit website
      EFine Food Store
      61 Bow Rd, E3 2AD
    • AWestfield Stratford
      Over 250 stores
      Olympic Park
      Montfichet Rd, E20 1EJ
      020 8221 7300 | Visit website
      BRoman Road Market
      Tuesdays, Thursdays 10am-4pm,
      Saturdays 10am-5pm
      568 Roman Rd, E3 5ES
      0843 886 8462 | Visit website
    • ABromley-by-Bow Health Centre
      St Leonard's St, E3 3BT
      020 3728 0980 | Visit website
      BSt Andrew’s Health Centre
      2 Hannaford Walk, E3 3FF
      020 8980 1888 | Visit website
      CRuston Street Clinic
      Ruston St, E3 2LR
      020 8980 1652 | Visit website
      DThe Tredegar Practice
      35 St Stephen's Rd, E3 5JD
      020 8980 1822 | Visit website
      EHarley Grove Medical Centre
      15 Harley Grove, E3 2AT
      020 8983 7479 | Visit website
      FStroudley Walk Health Centre
      38 Stroudley Walk, E3 3EW
      020 8981 4742 | Visit website
      GLantern Health CIC – Carpenters Practice
      236-252 High St, E15 2JA
      020 8534 8057 | Visit website
      HSt Stephen’s Health Centre
      Bow Community Hall, William Pl, E3 5ED
      020 8980 1760
      IMerchant Street Surgery
      5 Merchant St, E3 4LJ
      020 8980 3676 | Visit website
    • ABow Pharmacy
      38 Stroudley Walk, E3 3EW
      020 8980 2178 | Visit website
      BTesco Superstore Pharmacy
      Hancock Rd, Bow, E3 3DA
      0345 677 9085 | Visit website
      CGreen Light Pharmacy
      Hannaford Walk, Devons Rd, E3 3FF
      020 3069 7858 | Visit website
      DBoots, Westfield Stratford
      Olympic Park, Montfichet Rd, E20 1EJ
      020 8221 7300 | Visit website
    • ANisa Local Post Office
      161A Bow Rd, E3 2SG
      0345 611 2970 | Visit website
      BStratford Post Office
      26-28 The Broadway, E15 4QS
      0345 611 2970 | Visit website
      CAmazon Delivery Locker
      The Mall Stratford, E15 1NG
      0800 496 2459 | Visit website
    • ABarclays Bank
      92 Bow Rd, E3 3AA
      0345 734 5345 | Visit website
      BNatwest ATM
      161 Bow Rd, E3 2SG
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      CThe Co-operative ATM
      131 Bow Rd, E3 2AN
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      DTesco Superstore ATM
      Hancock Rd, Bow, E3 3DA
      0345 677 9085 | Visit website
    • AStratford Dry Cleaners, Laundry, Key Cutting
      269 High St, E15 2TF
      07808 703978 | Visit website
      BSmart Dry Cleaners
      Unit 4 Auzura point, 44 Warton Rd, Stratford, E15 2JD
      020 7485 3839
      CBow Dry Cleaner
      22 Bromley High St, E3 3EP
      020 8980 8089 | Visit website
    • ALondon Stadium
      Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, E20 2ST
      020 8522 6000 | Visit website
      BLondon Aquatics Centre
      Swimming and Diving Pools
      Olympic Park, E20 2ZQ
      020 8536 3150 | Visit website
      CLondon Aquatics Centre Gym
      Olympic Park, E20 2ZQ
      020 8536 3150 | Visit website
      DAnytime Fitness Gym
      188 High St, Stratford, E15 2FF
      020 3475 1347 | Visit website
      6 Chestnut Pl, Stratford, E20 1GL
      020 3819 8548 | Visit website
      FCopper Box Arena
      Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, E20 3HB
      020 8221 4900 | Visit website
    • ACinema Westfield Stratford
      3,000 seats across 17 screens in this Vue Cinema with all the latest movies, food and drinks available.
      Olympic Park, Montfichet Rd, E20 1EJ
      020 8221 7300 | Visit website
      BBowling Westfield Stratford
      All Star Lanes provides a fun party environment with 14 lanes and available for parties and private events.
      Olympic Park, Montfichet Rd, E20 1EJ
      020 8221 7300 | Visit website
      CTheatre Royal Stratford East
      A culturally diverse area in Stratford well-known for the talented productions and lively bars and cafés.
      Gerry Raffles Square, E15 1BN
      020 8534 0310 | Visit website
      DNunnery Gallery
      Showcase for works by East London artists within a former religious building, with a café.
      Open Tuesday – Friday 10am – 5pm
      181 Bow Rd, E3 2SJ
      020 8980 7774 | Visit website
      EArcelorMittal Orbit
      Fun for all the family and a great view from the top on a sunny day. Café next door with a wide range of tasty treats.
      Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, 5 Thornton St, E20 2AD
      0333 800 8099 | Visit website
    • APudding Mill Lane DLR Station
      0.2 miles | DLR Service
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      BStratford High Street DLR Station
      0.4 miles | DLR Service
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      CBromley-By-Bow Tube Station
      0.5 miles | District & Hammersmith & City Services
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      DAbbey Road DLR Station
      0.6 miles | DLR Services
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      EBow Church DLR
      0.6 miles | DLR Services
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      FStratford Station
      0.7 miles | TFL Rail, Central, Jubilee, DLR, Overground Services
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      GWest Ham Station
      0.7 miles | District, Hammersmith & City, DLR and Jubilee Services
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      HBow Road Tube Station
      0.8 miles | District, Hammersmith & City Services
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      IStratford International Station
      1.2 miles | DLR & National Rail Services
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      JMaryland Station
      1.3 miles | TFL Rail Service
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      KMile End Station
      1.5 miles | Central, District, Hammersmith & City Services
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      LHackney Wick
      1.6 miles | Overground Service
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    • ASantander bikes
      Bow Church Station
      118 Bow Rd, London E3 3AH
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      BSantander bikes
      Bromley High St, Bow, E3 33B
      0343 222 6666 | Visit website
      CSantander bikes
      Devon’s Rd, Bow, E3 3QX
      0343 222 6666 | Visit website
      DSantander bikes
      Bow Rd Station, Bow, E3 3AH
      0343 222 6666 | Visit website
      ESantander bikes
      Podium, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, E20 2ST
      0343 222 6666 | Visit website
      FSantander bikes
      Aquatics Centre, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, E20 2ST
      0343 222 6666 | Visit website
      GSantander bikes
      Stratford Station, Stratford, E15 1AZ
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      HSantander bikes
      Monier Rd, Hackney Wick, E3 2PR
      0343 222 6666 | Visit website
      IView Tube Cycle Hire - Nigel’s bikes
      The Greenway, Marshgate Ln, E15 2PJ
      07957 346279 | Visit website
  • AThree Mills Green and Three Mills Island
    World’s oldest tidal mill, with café and Wild Kingdom play space with fallen trees, nets and ropes.
    E3 3DU
    Visit website
    BCanal and riverside walk
    Connecting into the Lee Valley Walk’s 26 miles of walks.
    Visit website
    CQueen Elizabeth Olympic Park
    Bridges, wild land and play parks weave a latticework around London's 2012 Olympic venues.
    E20 2ST
    0800 072 2110 | Visit website
    DAbbey Lane Open Space
    Small area of green space ideal for playing sports, working out and spending time with family and friends.
    14 Abbey Ln, E15 2SD
    0844 414 2728 | Visit website
    ETower Hamlets Cemetery Park
    Restored Victorian cemetery and local nature reserve with urban woodland, bats and butterflies.
    Southern Grove, E3 4PX
    020 8983 1277 | Visit website
    FVictoria Park
    Grove Rd, E3 5TB
    020 8985 5699 | Visit website
    • AHouse Mill
      The Miller’s House.
      Three Mill Ln, Bromley By Bow, E3 3DU
      Visit website
      BAbbey Mills Pumping Station
      140 Abbey Ln, E15 2RW
      020 8311 3711
      CDrapers Almshouses
      1 Almshouses Way, Rainhill, E3 3ES
      DSt Mary’s Bow Church
      230 Bow Rd, E3 3AH
      020 8981 7916 | Visit website