Mayor Ken Livingstone announced plans for the 1000 home development, which is to apply lessons learnt from the eco-city of Dongtan, during his visit to China.

The London Development Agency will deliver the project in cooperation with consulting firm Arup, which is behind the carbon-neutral and self-sufficient Dongtan development near Shanghai.

“The key message from Dongtan is to take responsibility for our impacts on the environment, and to minimise those impacts,” Malcolm Smith, Arup’s urban design team leader, told edie.

“It will be interesting to look at these ideas in the context of London, which has grown from a collection of villages that used to be almost self-sufficient in the past,” he said.

The Dongtan eco-city has the ambitious aim of becoming the world’s first sustainable city. Construction is scheduled to start next year on Chongming, China’s third biggest island, on land that is “growing” at a rate of 100m a year as the Yangtze River deposits its silt on the shores.

The city will be self-sufficient in water and food, eventually providing a carbon-neutral network of homes and offices for up to 500,000 people.

Localised water supply and decentralised energy production from renewables will play a part in applying this philosophy to London. A number of sites in the Thames Gateway are being considered, but details of the project are still under discussion.

Announcing the plans, Ken Livingstone said: “Global warming was created in the west, but it is increasingly to the east to which we look for a solution. Shanghai’s Dongtan sustainable-city project is breathtaking in scale and ambition and if it works it will be a beacon to the world on how to achieve a low-carbon future.

“London’s zero-emission development will demonstrate that we can also realise this kind of vision in Europe and that it is affordable and achievable to make all major new developments low-carbon.”

The project stems from a proposal from Greenpeace, which will be helping in its further development.

Greenpeace executive director Stephen Tindale said: “Once again London is leading the way in the UK and Ken Livingstone is showing what can be done when a politician has the drive to turn aspiration into action. It’s high time central Government took note of what is happening across the Thames.”

Goska Romanowicz

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie