London Promenade project

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Thursday 17 January 2008 9.20am
Interesting scheme for making the river walkway at Bankside wider from the New London Architecture Waterfront London exhibition 10 Jan - 23 Feb 2008.
Thursday 17 January 2008 11.53am
I agree with widening the walkway in front of Sea Containers House and the Blackfriars railway bridges but the bit in front of Oxo and Bernie Spain Gardens just seems pointless and could damage the businesses in Gabriels Wharf and Oxo by taking away footfall.

Also pointless on the Tate Modern stretch, takes away the interesting shapes and removes the foreshore. Also they appear to be proposing to demolish the Founders Arms (unless whoever drew that map was confused by the plants on the roof?).

And then there's the bit that could turn Clink Street into a forgotten backwater. Tourists without maps or guidebooks will miss out on this characterful little quarter.

This comes across as some kind of first year planning student coursework - well intentioned but not well considered.
Friday 25 January 2008 12.25pm
I should introduce myself. I am Michael Davis, the originator of the London Promenade concept and a director of the not-for-profit company behind the project. I have been involved with the Bermondsey Street Area Partnership as Chair for thirteen years and have now been Vice Chair for three years. I have been on the Pool of London Partnership Board and Chair of the Conservation Areas Advisory Committee to Southwark Council from 1992 - 1997. I have seen huge changes in the south bank area over the past thirty odd years.

While living in the artists' studios at Butler's Wharf in the 1970s I wondered why the jetty on the river there - one of the few survivors - was not connected with the formal frontage further west at the South Bank Centre. The South Bank Centre itself seemed only to work as an island off the West End. I thought the it could be much more than that.

Today, despite the many positive improvements to the River Walk, you still cannot walk, cycle or jog the entire length of the Thames and take it all in, enjoying the world important views of the City and historic north bank, without all the twists and turns. The River Walk is often at capacity, not only during special events - when it can be a dangerous place for crowds, but also day-to-day, with walkers and joggers hemmed in and having to constantly twist and turn to move any distance. What will it be like in five years, or ten years time, when all the proposed developments along the south bank are in place? We think that something should be done sooner rather than later. Other cities in the world, such as New York and Sydney have made the effort to revitalize their rivers. We would like to do the same to help London refocus on the Thames.

The London Promenade concept illustrated has been developed, over time, with some of the greatest experts in the world. The drawing is still at draft stage, and there it will stay until we can afford to undertake the massive consultation/involvement exercise that will produce a final design that everyone locally feels proud to be a part of. The “hard edge” - as at the South Bank Centre - of the stone bases, sturgeon lamps and festoon lighting, which are iconic of London, is the central theme of the concept. The aim is to create a continuous edge that removes the complexities of the current river walk and adds more space to this currently overcrowded route.

Aside from the idea of creating a consistent edge, almost every other detail is still to be resolved. We expect the deck to change in its design to reflect the local differences of the different neighbourhoods the promenade will pass through. Public art, signage, treatments in front of the buildings, the width of the route, the extent to which it goes out over the water and all the other important details will all be the result of extensive consultation - I know that this is the only way to achieve the sort of change we envisage.

The design team is led by Conybeare Morrison architects, who are one of the most experienced architectural practices in waterside projects. For instance they developed Circular Quay in Sydney, Bondi Beach, Jakarta Waterfront, Singapore River and are presently working on two new waterfront cities in China. Space Syntax, are world-class pedestrian impact analysts and are working throughout London on infrastructure projects like this. Their track record includes the South Bank Centre, Trafalgar Square and the current Elephant & Castle regeneration for LB Southwark.

We are a not-for-profit company who wish to plough back as much funding as possible into the deprived communities (of which there are many) in central London. This project was conceived to be beneficial for the whole local community and for London; to make the River Thames the focus of our city, for the benefit of all.

The project has already huge support, Pool of London Partnership, Central London Partnership, Southwark Council, Southwark Cyclists, Sustrans, Living Streets, City of London Corporation, etc. The project meets at least forty of the Mayor's strategies and policies for London. By having sufficient width, we can design out problems of cycling, runners, roller bladders, health and safety for major celebrations on the river and yet allow people to pause and enjoy the beauty of our city as a lasting legacy for and beyond the Olympics in 2012.

Further details on the project are at:

Thanks for your interest. Please let us have your comments.
Friday 25 January 2008 2.16pm
I think it looks like a great idea. The riverside is often too crowded at the pinch points (Clink St, Sthk Bridge, Sea Containers House, etc) and this plan seems to be aimed at solving that.

...if you press it, they will come.
Friday 25 January 2008 3.15pm
Like all great concepts, this starts with simplicity at its core.

Good luck with this project, Michael !
Friday 25 January 2008 9.44pm
As someone who uses the River Walk every day and derives great pleasure from it, I am very excited by the plans you've laid out, Michael. Keep us posted!
Saturday 26 January 2008 12.55am
A worldbeater! Make it friendly to cormorants.
Saturday 26 January 2008 9.12am
I love my old Thames,

Any project that ensures the use and enjoyment of the riverside has my backing.
Sunday 27 January 2008 11.15pm
I walk from Sea containers to the Tate twice a day every week day (unless it p!sses it down), and other stretches of the river very regularly during the weekends. I would agree with zappomatic that the widening around the Tate and Gabriels Wharf may be less desired given the fact that these parts are already reasonably wide and the potential loss of business for Gabriels Wharf. However, I like the plan as it lenghtens the river walk and widens it where it is much needed such as Blackfriars bridge and Seacontainers house/OxO
Monday 28 January 2008 12.07am
The riverwalk is certainly suffering at its pinch-points, and I'd support widening at those by cantilevering out over the river, as was done between the Globe and Southwark Bridge. But I'd like to point out the importance of not cutting into the Thames bed and foreshore. We have the most encroached-on stretch of the Thames here; this has narrowed the river and speeded up the water flow, which scours out the bottom, makes it difficult for wildlife to survive and move up and down the river, and destroys the riverbed/foreshore archaeology.

The riverwalk will anyway be diverted and narrowed at Blackfriars Bridge, by the Thameslink scheme, which will use the space under the arch for a station. And (as I understand it but please correct me if I am wrong)Gabriels Wharf with all its units is due to close in the near future.
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