Home / Projects / UK’s 5 Most Astounding Waterfront Regeneration Projects

UK’s 5 Most Astounding Waterfront Regeneration Projects

Dundee one of UK's Waterfront Regeneration Revolution Cities
Dundee one of UK's Waterfront Regeneration Revolution Cities
With waterfront lifestyle being in increased demand, UK's waterside cities are regenerating their best assets - waterfront areas - to attract more people and businesses. Today we are looking at the top 5 waterfront regeneration projects happening in the country right now.

The waterfront regeneration revolution is in full swing in the UK.

As an island and a nation with great maritime history the UK has a formidable amount of waterfront cities.

Capitalising on the waterways today is a different process to what it used to be in the times of industrial revolution. It’s not about heavy industries any longer, it’s all about place, space and creating a vibrant hub that can offer an attractive urban lifestyle with great views and fantastic opportunities right on the doorstep.

Acknowledging the enormous potential of city waterfront areas, a wave of waterfront regeneration projects have started across the country. Today we are looking at UK’s top 5 most imaginative and forward-thinking waterfront redevelopment projects.

5. The Royal Pier Waterfront, Southampton

The Royal Pier, Southampton
The Royal Pier, Southampton. Image source: www.royalpierwaterfront.com

Being the acknowledged cruise capital of Europe Southampton welcomes more than four million visitors a year. Southampton’s waterfront is a vital place for the city – it is the first thing that millions of sea cruise lovers from all over the world see when their luxurious cruise ship arrives at British shores.

To celebrate the history and the beauty of one of the most important British ports the city is planning to turn the waterfront into a bustling and modern city hub and one of the greatest waterfronts in Europe.

The vision for the Royal Pier Waterfront is ambitious indeed – inspired by the world’s most magnificent and imaginative waterfront cities such as Amsterdam, San Francisco and Copenhagen, the designers and the local authorities are planning to create truly fabulous waterfront developments.

The Royal Pier Waterfront will be home to an impressive range of restaurants, shops, office spaces and leisure facilities. For the waterfront lifestyle lovers there will also be residential developments including luxury apartments that will offer a modern urban living on the doorstep of the historic harbour.

One of the main objectives of the Royal Pier Waterfront transformation is improving transport links, parking, and pedestrian access to the waterfront from the city centre.

A network of connections will link the Old Town with the waterfront with some of the streets being extended directly into the site and other roads being converted into an urban streets.

It’s also planned to create a network of high-quality public spaces including Royal Pier Square and Town Quay Square.

As a part of the Royal Pier Waterfront development Mayflower Park will be significantly improved. It will become bigger and more spacious, with enough space to provide a range of activities throughout the year as well as hosting the annual PSP Southampton Boat Show.

Children’s playgrounds, multi-purpose game courts, sports pitches and artwork pavilions will be added to make the park more attractive.

A new sheltered inlet will be created by reclaiming more than 5 hectares of land from Southampton Water. The inlet will become a focus for the new waterfront development. It will provide berthing for tall ships and large yachts accessed off of floating pontoons.

A lifting pedestrian bridge will connect the Royal Pier site and Town Quay.

In approximately eight years the crumbling site of the Royal Pier will be completly unrecognisable. From modern residential houses with water views to the Spitfire soaring over a renovated Mayflower Park, to the fabulous range of bars, restaurants and hotels along the waterfront, –  Southampton’s Royal Pier will become an affluent and prosperous waterside district, a true magnet for both residents and visitors.

4. Swansea Seafront

Swansea Waterfront Regeneration
Swansea, SA1 at Night. Image Source: www.npt-business.co.uk

Swansea’s revamped seafront is part of the city’s £500m aspirational regeneration plan that covers the city centre, the seafront promenade, major infrastructure transformations and transport links.

The council is planning to turn its beachfront Civic Centre Headquarters site into a dynamic and modern mix use seafront quarter.

The masterplan includes 480 residential units, a 70,000 square foot space for a hotel or offices, and a 20,000 to 30,000 square foot space for food and drink businesses – all benefiting from breathtaking views of Swansea Bay.

‘Skypath’ – a pedestrian road – will link the new waterfront developments to the regenerated city centre and the River Tawe.

Mumbles Development
Mumbles Development artist’s impression

Trebor Developments, the company that will be managing Swansea seafront regeneration, is discussing the possibility of working closely alongside Swansea University to explore the potential for a ‘hydro hub’ at the site that could include a public aquarium and a state-of-the-art aquatic sciences research centre.

This £150m waterfront regeneration project has great significance for Swansea. When finished it will create the stylish, attractive and distinctive character of a modern European waterfront city.

The waterways will serve not only as an attraction feature but also as means to maximise Swansea’s economic potential.

Waterfront living is getting more and more popular, and Swansea is not an exception to this in vogue lifestyle choice. The modern family homes and apartments that fringe Swansea marina are already in great demand, and with Persimmon starting its SA1 development, this postcode will continue to be one of the most desirable places to live in the city.

Swansea’s waterfront which is already the city’s biggest treasure will be enhanced tremendously with the development of a stylish city beach area with bars, restaurants, offices, 5-star hotels and homes opening onto a stunning promenade and the beach.

A jewel in the crown and a gateway to an unrivalled Gower Peninsular – Mumbles pier and promenade – will be transformed as early as next summer, with the fabulous Mumbles pier being carefully restored, the old boathouse turned into a restaurant, a new hotel built on the breathtaking cliffs and an improved promenade to enjoy the magnificent beauty of Swansea bay.

The Tidal Lagoon, if it gets the go-ahead to be constructed, will potentially make Swansea one of the top waterfront destinations in Europe able to compete with globally famous seaside capitals and cities.

Swansea Waterfront Regeneration
Swansea Tidal Lagoon. Image Source: www.tidallagoonswanseabay.com

Besides being a green and sustainable energy source, the Lagoon will create the whole new entertainment and sports venue providing a stunning and fun destination for family days out.

The protected water area inside the lagoon will make Swansea a perfect city for water sports with spectators being provided with a wrap-around viewing area.

The Lagoon wall itself – a 9.5 km long causeway – will make the most beautiful cycling, walking, and jogging route that will take its users on a scenic journey through the bay.

The visitors centre will be a great destination to come and learn about tidal energy; and the marine farm will provide researchers, students and pupils with valuable knowledge of marine ecology. The Lagoon will almost certainly create immense community and tourism opportunities in sports, recreation, education, arts and culture, and become a major attraction and recreational amenity for Swansea city adding tremendous value to Swansea seafront.

3. Millbay, Plymouth

Millbay, Plymouth
Millbay, Plymouth. Image Source: www.millbayplymouth.com

Millbay, or Millbay Docks – Plymouth’s historic dockland area – has been part of the city’s successful dock operation and still contains Plymouth’s main passenger ferry terminal.

The Inner Basin and the docks were constructed by the prominent 19th century engineer I.K. Brunel and once used to a docking place for transatlantic liners and tenders.

Now the area is undergoing intensive regeneration that is creating new homes, business premises, marina, and opening up the waterfront to greater public access.

Already around £90m has been invested in the Millbay in the past few years.

With the recently completed award-winning Quadrant Quay development Millbay now has 400 new homes, new businesses, the new 1,000-pupil Plymouth School of Creative Arts, a 171-berth King Point Marina and a successful Dock Restaurant, all contributing to an increasingly busy and vibrant local community.

The next phase of the planned £200 million regeneration of Millbay will see the eastern side of the historic former docks redeveloped and transformed.

During this phase a mix of 137 houses and apartments with associated parking will be built. The beautiful coastal theme in which Quadrant Quay has been landscaped and is a favourite with the residents and visitors, will be replicated through the new development.

There will be further new pedestrian links to the waterfront from the neighbouring West Hoe Road.

“We have worked closely throughout the regeneration with our partners, including Plymouth City Council and the Homes and Communities Agency, to develop a fresh and distinctive character to Millbay’s redevelopment and we are looking forward to this next phase taking forward Millbay’s reputation for innovative design and high quality.”

Duncan Cumberland, development director for Muse Developments

Millbay is already a home to a bustling living and working development Cargo by Muse Developments.

A dynamic and vibrant waterfront development with a fabulous mix of residential, retail, leisure and business opportunities, Millbay is striving to stand out as a successful and attractive city hub while also enhancing the wider city profile. It is becoming a diverse and thriving community that offers increased employment opportunities, improved environment and an exciting lifestyle.

2. Liverpool Waters


Princess Dock Liverpool
Princess Dock Liverpool. Image Source: www.liverpoolwaters.co.uk

Liverpool Waters is a sequel to the successful regeneration story of Liverpool’s commercial business district and the city’s iconic world heritage waterfront.

The scale of the Liverpool Waters project and its long-term vision are truly magnificent: it offers investors and residents a unique opportunity to be in the heart of an exciting and bustling waterfront location and enjoy a modern urban lifestyle with all the opportunities on the doorstep.

Stretching over 2km along the banks of the River Mersey, this £5 billion project aims to create a contemporary urban mixed use waterfront area across 60 hectares.

The project offers an eclectic mix of residential space, offices, hotel, retail & leisure and signature buildings.

This scheme is all about sheen and modernity, urban living and unrivalled waterfront views.

Already home to an impressive array of restaurants, bars, cafes, leisure activities including an outdoor cinema, dive centre, Liverpool Cruise Terminal and much more, Liverpool Waters is an exciting place to locate your business.

Some big companies have chosen to establish their offices there including such well-known global giants like Cargill and one of the Big Four auditors KPMG.

Peel Holdings, a property investment and development company in whose single ownership of the Liverpool Waters area, are planning to start work on three new residential towers, two hotels and office blocks at the back of Princess Dock.

Hotels and more office space overlooking the new cruise liner terminal are planned closer to the river.

In total there are eight separate plots on Princes Dock planned for redevelopment in 2017.

The company is closely involved in Liverpool regeneration. Peel Holdings bought the port, the airport and a big part of the waterfront with firm belief that Liverpool has great prospects and is progressing and building a very exciting and successful future.

The masterplan for the Liverpool Waters reflects the ambition of the city to have a waterfront for the world. Amongst modern business and residential buildings there planned fabulous public entertainment spaces such as floating pontoons and water leisure activities in Bramley-Moore Dock, a monumental public space at Clarence Graving Docks, a historic jetty restored for public use, 7 hectares of new public parks, and of course a spectacular international cruise liner terminal that will be an arrival point for over 100,000 tourists a year.

1: Dundee Waterfront Regeneration

Dundee Waterfront
Dundee Waterfront. Image Source: www.dundeewaterfront.com

Dundee waterfront redevelopment is no doubt one of the most aspiring and bold waterfront regeneration projects in the UK.

The waterfront that stretches 8 km along the River Tay and comprises of 240 hectares of land is being redeveloped into a modern and vibrant mix use riverside district that aims to rival the most prominent European waterfront cities.

The £1 billion project that has already won several awards including 2016 CEEQUAL Sustainability Assessment Award, 2015 Scottish Awards For Quality in Planning, finalist of 2015 MIPIM UK Regeneration Project of the Year Award, and many others.

The transformation of the waterfront is a strategic, focused and forward-looking project for Dundee. Many businesses are already reaping the rewards of the ongoing city transformation, and yet even more significant growth is expected as a further 7,000 jobs are created through the Dundee Waterfront project.

Here are some of the highlights of the Dundee Waterfront project:

There are five zones of regeneration in the project: Riverside; Seabraes (The Braes); Central Waterfront (The Front); City Quay (The Quay) and Dundee Port (The Port).

The Riverside zone is a transport hub that links the South with the rest of the country. It is also a recreation and sporting area as well as employment developments. What used to be a landfill site has been transformed to create a 35-hectare nature park with views over the River Tay, which offers excellent habitat conditions for the 80 species of bird so far seen in the area.

Seabraes can already boast some very imaginative projects and buildings, including District 10 with its first of a series of buildings specifically designed for early stage creative companies. The building is constructed out of 37 recycled shipping containers and houses 15 office spaces and a meeting hall for start-ups.

A new pedestrian/cycleway has been constructed to connect Seabraes directly to the City Centre. Dundee’s Science Centre built at the entrance to Seabraes is an impressive engaging tourist attraction for both young and old audience. It offers great exhibitions to those who want to understand how science affects our everyday lives.

Art-science orchard, planted in 2014, forms part of a network of 24 small-scale orchards that together re-imagine Dundee as an orchard city.

Seabraes will also house a residential development and further office buildings to offer more opportunities to businesses and residents.

The star of the show – Central Waterfront – will have a large avenue of open space at its heart extending to the water’s edge.

The main parkland area in the central waterfront is Slessor Gardens – a multi-functional space with capacity to host large events. The area will be surrounded by themed gardens and pavilions with a children’s play area planned in-between.

V&A Museum Of Design Dundee will be an international centre for design for Scotland – the first ever design museum to be built in the UK outside London.

The Museum will be housed in a world-class building at the heart of Dundee’s waterfront. It will host major exhibitions, celebrate Scotland’s design heritage, inspire and promote contemporary talent, and encourage design innovation for the future.

It is already possible to see the character of the Central Waterfront being shaped by the ambitious vision and creative people. It is all about arts, exploration, inclusivity and participation.

The construction site for the V&A Museum Of Design is surrounded by V&A Hoardings Comic Strip. It includes digital interactive elements that can be accessed via a tablet or phone using the Waterfront App.

 V&A Museum Of Design
V&A Museum Of Design

Another great feature of the Central Waterfront is the Telford beacon – the lighthouse that once guarded over the entry between King William IV Dock and the tidal harbour.

The 170 year-old beacon was relocated to the water’s edge and is now positioned overlooking the River Tay.

There are a further 8 development sites in the Central Waterfront that are underway or planned for the next phase. They include commercial space, offices, hotels, residential developments, etc.

The development of the City Quay includes the creation of a contemporary marina that will offer high-quality sheltered berthing with direct access for visitors to the city centre shopping and leisure facilities.

As a part of the regeneration project a 130 year-old Clocktower building that has been a landmark of the port area, has been carefully and lovingly restored and converted into luxury apartments and three double-storey penthouses.

Another successful residential conversion – Quayside Mews that once used to be part of the operational dock buildings, now offers its residents a truly urban waterfront lifestyle.

The highlight of the Quay is no doubt HM Frigate Unicorn. Launched in 1824 she is the oldest British-built ship still afloat.

For nearly 100 years the ship was used for training. Now open daily to the public as a tourist attraction and private hire function venue, its future preservation relies heavily on charitable donations and volunteers.

Dundee Waterfront regeneration project is no doubt one of the most extraordinary and visionary schemes in Europe. It is multi-faceted, creative and bold – once in a century opportunity to transform Dundee, inspire the residents and showcase the city’s potential to the world.

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