The Landscape Guide

17.10 London Blueway - commentary

Contents list

London has an extensive network of waterside (by rivers, lakes, canals etc). Some are old and many were developed after 1945. The results deserve systematic analysis and some comments are made below. The general comments are (1) the old walks are better than the new walks (2) where space allows, new walks are far too wide (3) the results would have been much better if the new walks had been planned and designed, by landscape architects, in consultation with users (4) see 17.3 London Greenways 1943 for comments on planning and see comments on administration.

The riverfront walk in Greenwich is the place designers should think most about. Its quality is much higher than anything made in recent times - and gives access to the foreshore.

Though only Five Feet wide (1.5m) the Greenwich waterfront is hardly ever overcrowded. Also note the level: it has at normal high tide level. All the new walks are way above this level so that pedestrians are denied a waterside experience.

The 2005 riverfront walk by the Royals Business Park is 10m wide and does not have a single tree or a single shrub. One can only assume the designers wished to glorify their building.

This is the type of crowd riverside designers dream about - but can have only near such attractions as generate these crowds: Tower Bridge, St Paul's Cathedral, the Globe Theatre and the Tate Modern.

Hermitage Wharf waterfront: too wide and badly detailed: a disgrace.

Tower of London waterfront: very well used because the Tower is so popular. The trees do not obstruct the pedestrian flow.

Recreational use of the Thames shore is still possible in a few places(Blackwall waterfront) but is discouraged by the Authorities.

The walkway in front of the Greenwich Dome is excessively bleak - but not excessively wide. It resembles a single-track road with no cars.

The old cranes along Royal Victoria dock are statuesque, and help screen the dreary architecture, but are no substitute for pedestrian amenity.