Convoys Wharf, London

The site is located in Deptford on the south bank of the River Thames, east of the City of London, the recorded history of Convoys Wharf goes back to the thirteenth century. The site has been in continuous use as a dockyard since the 1420s, and in the early sixteenth century became King Henry VIII’s Royal Naval Dockyard. The site was familiar to two important seventeenth century London diarists – John Evelyn, and Samuel Pepys who visited the dockyard in his capacity as Clerk to the Navy Board. Many of the great voyages of discovery began at Deptford, including those of Drake, Raleigh and much later, Captain James Cook who sailed from here to Australia in 1768.

The site served as a cattle market from 1871-1912 then as a War Department supply depot before being purchased by Convoys (importers of newsprint) in 1984. More recently, the site has been used by News International as a storage depot. Sadly, the bulk of the Tudor, Stuart, Georgian and Victorian structures that had survived until 1955 have since been destroyed. One structure that escaped the demolition is Olympia Warehouse, a unique cast-iron building constructed in the 1840s. The Grade II listed building will be preserved and refurbished as part of the redevelopment of the site.

The brief, developed by RRP, was to transform this underutilised 16 hectare brownfield site into a residential, cultural and creative business centre.  Occupying fifty percent of Lewisham's riverfront, the site is seen as having the potential to be a significant catalyst for the planned regeneration of that area.  Located on a bend in the river, the site enjoys dramatic views towards Canary Wharf and historic Greenwich. The site itself is highly visible from the river, although conversely it currently exists in a state of almost total isolation, with a three metre high wall surrounding the site on three sides.

Given the complexities and enormous size of Convoys Wharf, the masterplan is intended to be robust and able to be consistently applied, whilst allowing enough flexibility to accommodate changes over the lifespan of the project. The main considerations to be taken into account in developing the masterplan were to maintain eight hectares as a designated wharf; to provide 3,000 residential units at an appropriate density to integrate into the established urban pattern; enhance riverside public open space; encourage wildlife conservation on the waterfront; conserve historic elements; and to link public space with existing open spaces surrounding the site in order to create green corridors suitable for habitat creation.


Project data
Location London, England
Type Masterplanning
  Culture & Leisure
Dates 2002 -
Site Area 16 hectares
Area / Sector  
Residential 337,980m²
Employment 72,730m²
Retail 6,945m²
Restaurant / Bar 3,370m²
Cultural / Community 23,320m²
Leisure 2,700m²
Total Residential Units 3,514
  (35% Affordable Housing)
Client News International plc
The Architect Richard Rogers Partnership
Joveria Baig, Sean Daly, Mark Darbon, Philip Dennis, Lucy Evans, Mike Fairbrass, Marco Goldschmied, Maria Hadjinicolaou, Toby Jeavons, Tracy Meller
Civil Engineer Buro Happold
Landscape Architect Bell Fischer
Planning Consultant Montagu Evans
Quantity Surveyor Faithful & Gould
Services Engineer Buro Happold
Structural Engineer Buro Happold
Transport Engineer Buro Happold