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.