Our Future's Orange: Surrey Quays, Canada Water, Rotherhithe

This is part two of our preview of the East London Line, profiling many of the stops along the new route, ahead of its opening in May.

The course of the East London Line will carry us through Surrey Quays, Canada Water and Rotherhithe stations along the base of the Surrey Quays peninsula, an area of dockland that was redeveloped by the London Docklands Development Corporation in the 1980s. Many of the old docks were filled in and thousands of new homes built.

Today, the area is still littered with artefacts from its days as a working commercial dock and is home to the Brunel Museum, which commemorates Isambard Kingdom Brunel's first and last projects - the Thames Tunnel that the East London Line will run through and the Great Eastern steamship as the first modern ocean liner.

Like Canary Wharf, much of the early 80s development has aged badly. Surrey Quays shopping centre is a dismal spot, its scale and facilities too mean for teenies consumers. The neighbouring leisure park provokes an existential crisis in us every time we see it. But Surrey Quays rewards the persistent. Press on past the dross and you'll discover stunning waterside development and parkland, as well as one of London's greatest views from the top of Stave Hill.

Greenland Dock was one of the few to survive and is now one of London's most important centres for water sports, with sailing and kayaking among the sports played on the 1km-long expanse of water. The Surrey Docks Watersports Centre is undergoing the final stages of its refurbishment to include a gym and fitness studios.

Russia Dock enjoyed a different fate and became a woodland nature reserve after it was filled in. Home to a number of rare species, its beauty is captured in exquisite detail on this blog. The park is also home to a 30-feet-tall decapitated cone called Stave Hill, an artificial construct, made from rubble from the construction works. It serves as a unique viewing platform for the dockland on both sides of the river.

Perhaps in the mistaken belief that a 'Fatty Arbuckles' next to a bowling alley constituted all you could wish for from a good night out, the eighties master planners neglected to include much in the way of eating or drinking establishments and the area can sometimes feel spookily quiet as a result.

The Wibbly Wobbly, an eccentric little pub on a barge parked in Greenland Dock is about the only show in town. Even so, it's not as packed as the number of homes surrounding it ought to merit. Formerly owned by Up the Creek's Malcom Hardee, he drowned rowing back to his houseboat from it in 2005.

On the western bank, near Rotherhithe Station, The Mayflower pub stands on the site of the Shippe pub that dates back to around 1550. It was renamed in 1957 and it was from the nearby landing steps to this pub that the Pilgrim Fathers set sail. Today, its prices suggest that its target market is their more fortunate descendants.

Southwark is trying hard to inject more life in to the Surrey Quays waterside and the area is home to one of London's biggest regeneration programmes, including a major project underway at Canada Water. Centred around a major new library, designed by Piers Gough, the new development aims to create a waterside town centre, including 2,700 new homes (35% affordable) and new retail, office and leisure facilities arranged around a new civic square.

The Decathlon store (much loved by everyone we know because it has the distinction of being the only sports shop which gives priority to sports equipment rather than trainers and embraces natural light rather than fluorescent posters) is to be expanded and will become the company's headquarters in the UK. The site will provide 430 flats together with new retail and community space and café, restaurants, bars along the waterfront. It will also create a new "boulevard" connecting it to the Surrey Quays shopping centre.

Even the soul-crushing Surrey Quays Leisure Park has been given outline planning permission for 500 residential units and 123 units for students, a new cinema complex and leisure building that will include restaurants, commercial floor spaces and public and private open space.

Click here to read about Dalston.