My comments and those of others were included in a Consultation Statement presented to the Planning & Transportation Committee on 23 June 2015. The revised strategy was approved.

Submission to the City Corporation

Department of the Built Environment
City of London
PO Box 270
Guildhall
London EC2P 2EJ

Dear Sir,

Public consultation on the Draft Thames Strategy

I have lived very close to the river Thames for 18 years and have worked in the City for the same length of time. I am planning to put my name forward for the forthcoming by-election in Bridge Ward and have taken the opportunity, as a local resident, to seek the views of people who have a particular connection with that Ward and also more general views about the riverside.

I hope that these views are useful and make a constructive contribution as part of the public consultation.

What particular places and qualities make the river special to you?

Its openness, history, pedestrian walkways and the changes of character from section to section are seen as making the river special. The whole length of the riverside walk is the quintessential hallmark of the City of London. Having good views is seen as particularly important.

People appreciate the interface between maintaining the history of the river and the need in a modern society to provide facilities that allow for progression and technological development. The mixture of historic and modern buildings provide a unique setting along the river but care needs to be taken to ensure any new buildings do not compromise the look of the City and detract from its historical importance.

What are your favourite buildings and spaces along the river?

People mentioned spaces both north and south of the river. They included Custom House and Billingsgate, Tower Bridge, London Bridge, Butlers Wharf/Shad Thames, Tower of London, Tate Modern frontage. Clink Street. The first floor public viewing area to east of St Magnus the Martyr and Fishmongers' Hall. The view from the river of St. Pauls was also mentioned.

What important features should be incorporated into any new developments? For example, shared uses and public facilities, new pedestrian routes through large schemes, interesting design features and use of materials etc.

Any new developments should not interfere with the objective of opening up the river walkway. There is a unique opportunity to incorporate some attractive cafes/restaurants which will allow people to enjoy the views of the river.

There should be no loss of river space to non-river uses. The introduction of planted areas/pocket parks would be welcome. Avoid shops and cafes bars etc. other than in ground floor of buildings. Additional toilets should be provided. Public routes through and additional public spaces and green areas would be a good idea. New pedestrian routes, particularly west of London Bridge would help.

How do you use the open spaces now, and what do you feel is lacking in the open spaces that could improve use in the future? For example, new amenities, such as additional seating, or space for new pursuits

The main aim should be the achievement of a continuous riverside walkway. The introduction of planted areas/pocket parks is also desirable. More and better seating to allow for relaxing and taking in the ambiance will add to enjoyment. Also some open buildings worth visiting.

What type of businesses and/or shops do you feel are lacking and would like to see more of along the river? For example, which independent retailers do you support and value? Do you feel there would be local demand for small office or workshop spaces, etc.?

The river should not become a shopping street. There would always be demand for small office or workshop space on the river at affordable rent, but good location is invariably available only at a premium for housing and business and City riverside land is surly a hugely valuable and hence expensive commodity.  How can space be made affordable for small businesses who would not be able to afford to rent spaces along the river which are likely to fetch premium rates and also the City tends to be a bit empty in the evenings at certain times of the year.

Retail over shops; workshops with crafts over offices; offices overhead are seen as attractive options.

What would make the streets more attractive and user-friendly? For example, shared use of streets by both vehicles and pedestrians, better crossings etc.?

The city is famous for its passageways, alleys and pedestrian streets. Creation of spaces of this kind, away from areas of heavy through traffic should be the overriding aim. Active frontages are needed at ground level with work spaces of all kinds as necessary above.

Better signage is required to direct people to and from the river and other sights and places of interest. Consideration should be given to use of Lower Thames Street as a cycle and pedestrian area over cars, and less intimidating and easier / quicker crossing of Lower Thames Street.

How can access to the river be improved?

Creation of a continuous walkway but not on or at the expense of river space should be the aim. Clearly marked and organised routes from all Underground Stations. More map boards, especially at Monument.

Part of the walkway in front of customs house should be opened up as it is quite restrictive.

Would you like to see Swan Lane Pier re-opened?

The prevailing view is yes. Use will depend on which services will be accessed from it. It would allow use of the water transport to get to Canary Wharf without having to walk across London bridge or to the Tower which is often quite congested. Water taxis would be a great addition.

Are there any other themes that the strategy should include? These might be related to the qualities and places you think make the riverside special.

Incorporate a variety of places, small piazzas and other pedestrian spaces. No vehicles or cycles on river frontage. More soundscapes, which are particularly appreciated by blind and partially sighted would be very welcome. The front of Customs House should be made wider.

Are there any other comments that you'd like to make regarding the river more generally, outside those directly related to Bridge Ward?

The Thames path along the south bank is surely London's most popular and most used urban "park". It is a great and safe way to enjoy the City and Westminster. The north bank offers great opportunities to match it, initially between Blackfriars Bridge and the Tower of London, at least.

 
 

Keith Bottomley
keith@keithbottomley.com.