Stephen Rees's blog

Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

Thamesmead

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Guardian video

Forty years ago this was new. This was the place that planning students (including me) were taken to on their field trips. One of my work colleagues at the GLC lived here – and suffered a nervous breakdown.

The language that is being used ( “Gateway”, “iconic buildings”) is very familiar. When built it was public housing (a GLC estate in fact). Now it is a “housing trust”. It has some similarities to the “projects” but seems to have avoided the designation “sink estate” although maybe that was a close call that has not yet been completely avoided. I thought it fascinating that the four/five storey flats were replaced part way through construction with something very like the terraced houses that had been pulled down as “slums” giving rise to the need for the development in the first place.

I must admit I was quite surprised how positive the oldies are now, and how distance appears to have added a roseate glow to their memories. Very infrequent bus service was the least of the complaints I heard back then.

The location is the Thames Estuary. The land used to be part of the MoD Woolwich Arsenal – and was still blank on many OS maps – which made our job a bit tricky at times. There was supposed to have been a Golden Ears style bridge here – the East London River Crossing (still not built) – connecting the North and South Circular Roads, but the Woolwich Free Ferry is still the link. And I suspect that these days the ecological value of the marsh that was there would be very differently viewed now

Written by Stephen Rees

April 16, 2008 at 2:43 pm

Posted in Urban Planning

One Response

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  1. […] East London River Crossing has been a long running saga, and this proposal looks at way that you can meet the need to get […]


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