Since 2000 the Greater London Authority, encouraged by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, has encouraged the London Boroughs to develop open space strategies - with the focus more on public parks than on the interconnecting greenways, be they paved or vegetated.
The 2004 London Plan: Spatial Development Strategy for Greater London includes what is called (map 3D.3) London’s strategic open space network. It is a paltry re-hash of the 1976 GLC Open space strategy, with the same irrelevant proposal for a 'hierarchy' of open spaces of different sizes. A much more interesting section of the 2004 plan comes in Section 4c: the Blue Ribbon Network for London. Though a significant innovation in London open space planning, it is a remarkably 'dry' proposal, with timid generalities cautiously expressed. One keeps reading that 'The Mayor will, and Boroughs should..." but one it would be difficult to find a person who could disagree with the succeeding pronouncements - unless, of course, it affects their own back yard.
For example: "Policy 4C.17 Increasing access alongside and to the Blue Ribbon Network.
The Mayor will, and boroughs should, protect and improve existing access
points to, alongside and over the Blue Ribbon Network. New sections to
extend existing or create new walking and cycling routes alongside the
Blue Ribbon Network as well as new access points should be provided as
part of development proposals for Opportunity Areas and Areas for
Intensification, especially in areas of deficiency."
The Blue Ribbon Policy is nonetheless welcome. London's previous 'open space plans' have not dealt with its river system, presumably because they provided insufficient opportunities to exercise the gang mowing machinery so loved by parks managers.
The Blue Ribbon Policy is as follows: "4.146 Attempts to re-establish lost rivers are likely to be extremely expensive. Therefore the Mayor’s approach is to welcome in principle any such proposal but not to require the reinstatement in the same way that culverted parts of the Blue Ribbon Network should be opened. There may be merit in projects that mark the historic route of such rivers at street level as an educational or tourist facility." Short-term caution is in order, but strategic planners should look to the future. See our Landscape Planning Policy for River Reclamation.