Families moving into a huge new housing complex overlooking the River Lea where the old Poplar gasworks once stood have been playing host to the Mayor of Tower Hamlets.

Lutfur Rahman went on a walkabout to see the new Poplar Riverside development where 2,800 families will eventually be rehoused by 2028, helping to tackle the East End’s housing and overcrowding crisis.

One of the tenants the mayor met was 65-year-old Arthur Redman, who had been in cramped rented accommodation in Poplar for 15 years until he moved into his new Riverside home in January.

“My living situation wasn’t the best,” Arthur told the mayor. “Now I can feel the difference here.

“It’s like a man who’s been eating lemons all his life and then somebody gives him an orange and it’s just so much sweeter.”

The first 219 flats now completed are part of the first phase for 643 homes in four blocks managed by Poplar Harca housing association. The scheme will eventually house 2,800 families in the next five years and also 96 shared ownership properties to help first-time buyers get on the housing ladder.

Poplar Harca’s Paul Dooley said: “There are levels of overcrowding and a growing need for affordable housing in this part of east London.  This scheme will make a massive difference. We hope this is just the beginning.”  

The mayor joined members of the housing organisation for his walkabout along with Berkeley developers and a few local councillors to meet the new tenants.

A large part of the scheme is earmarked as green space, with two-and-a-half acres of public park and an adventure playground and nature area for children, as well as riverside paths planned along the Lea.

Some 90,000sq ft of commercial space is also being included for shops, cafés, restaurants and workspaces, along with a recently-opened Sainsbury’s supermarket. 

Poplar Riverside on the old gasworks site forms part of the new Aberfeldy Village neighbourhood that has replaced a swathe of industrial wasteland along the river.

It has easy access to Canary Wharf, Poplar’s Chrisp Street market and to Canning Town just the other side of the Lea.