Cultural vision agenda vital due to growing demand at River Thames

by Suruchi Sharma Mon 7 October 2019, 4:04 pm

A cultural vision for the River Thames to encourage greater use of the waterside was shared at the third Thames Estuary Growth Day event last week (3 October).

The annual occasion held at CentrEd at London’s ExCeL Centre in Newham, chaired by BBC News home editor Mark Easton, gave delegates from local authorities, consultants and developers the opportunity to discuss the region’s progress and future plans.

One of the topics concentrated on transport and infrastructure and how connectivity in the Thames Estuary could be improved in a sustainable manner.

Alistair Gale, director of corporate affairs, Port of London Authority, said it was the “fastest-growing port in the UK” due to the “growing demand we have along the river”.

He said as more people were living by the Thames they needed to “integrate the river into their lives so it becomes the way they travel to work, it can become the place they work and the place that they play”.

Gale added: “One of the areas we’ve been working very hard on is around the cultural agenda for the river. If you have a city that is growing rapidly into a mega-city you actually need to find places and spaces for people to come together and enjoy things. The river can be one of those spaces – it is the busiest inland waterway for freight but it’s also the place where people can pause on say London Bridge in the middle of a busy day and reflect.”

He said the case for a “cultural vision” for the Thames was launched recently with the Mayor of London’s team with a “roadmap for how we’re going to embed the Thames as part of the growing capital city”.

Also on the panel was Liam McKay, director of corporate affairs at London City Airport, who spoke about the work being done on improving carbon emissions. He highlighted the airport is committed to having net zero carbon emissions by 2050, which was a promise made in June this year.

He said: “There is so much effort going on right now between airports, airlines, manufacturers to deliver that step change in the industry. We are absolutely not deaf to the challenge, and in the future we’re going to see lots of people making value-based decisions about how they fly and where they fly from. That’s something we are actually making central to our plans for the future.”

Kate Willard, partnerships director at Stobart Group, said a “clear story” and “joined-up leadership” was needed to encourage investment in transport infrastructure in the region. She said “getting the evidence right, getting the vision right and getting the clarity around that is the compelling route to investment whether it be public or private”.

The session started with Sarah Fish, associate director at WSP, talking about the need to consider local, regional, national and international transport. She covered topics beyond “congestion and potholes” and spoke about investment in infrastructure, carbon emissions, electric vehicles, freight and modern advances such as drone deliveries and driverless cars.

She also discussed transport for rural areas and the need for walking and cycling routes. Fish said that the “planning process and engagement is absolutely central” to achieve a successful transport strategy.

Sponsors for this year’s Thames Estuary Growth Day event included the Berkeley Group, Countryside, Estates & Agency Group, Glenny, L&Q, London City Airport, Port of London Authority and Weston Homes.

The event was organised and run by regeneration specialist 3Fox International. To learn more about the company’s work in events head to:

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