This past Monday, off I went up the hill to see Sir Terry Farrell talk about the Thames Estuary/Gateway project. Sir Farrell is a leading modern architect, having designed and built buildings around the world, including the MI6 building and Charing Cross station in London. He was appointed head of the Thames Estuary project in 2008, and has since turned the project on it's head.
Above: The MI6 Building, London.
Normally I am incredibly apprehensive of lectures on topics I don't have a lot of background knowledge on (as my boyfriend constantly tells me, I can, at times, have an incredibly short attention span). However, I was pleasantly surprised. Despite is being quite a short lecture, only 45 minutes including questions at the end, the subject matter was interesting, and I found it relevant to my life and the area that I live in.
The main aim of Sir Farrell's vision is to get back to nature. The Thames Estuary area is 40% nature, including water, and holds the largest group of nature reserves in the country. Whilst the government brief was essentially to extend London out in to Essex and Kent, he felt that the natural benefit of the area needed to be respected.
Above: Sir Terry Farrell's initial design vision for the Thames Gateway and Estuary
Unfortunately an overall scheme has not yet been completed. Compiling the information from local authorities in the Thames Gateway area is a huge task. Each local authority has an idea of what they want to do to benefit their residents with their land. However, several main ideas were addressed during the talk -
- Turning the Medway towns in to one large city. The five main Medway towns - Chatham, Rochester, Strood, Gillingham and Rainham, are all centred around the dockyards, which are unfortunately no longer in use. Developing this area in to something of a city centre would transform the identity Medway, giving it a previously unknown solidarity
- On the Greenwich Peninsula, using the Millenium/O2 Dome as a seed to grow local and national business in the area to make it an economic hub.
- Develop the Isle of Dogs to become a proud place, full of activity, including using the water as parkland for water based activities.
Each of these ideas would have a huge knock-on effect in Kent and Essex. Whether or not they are positive ideas, or if they will even be put in to practice, is something only time will tell.