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The River's edge - a missed opportunity

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Saturday 19 June 2004 8.13pm
Referring across to other topics (Potters Field and the Moorings) isn't it odd how sterile the Thames edges remain. What stops it from being colonised by casual traffic in the same way that the wharves have been colonised by residential uses.

It is and seems destined to remain a no-go area, defined by tourists on the edge and tourists floating between, but playing no 'orinary' part in the life of the city - something to be looked at but never lived in (or on).

Why do I suspect that our European cousins wouldn't let such an opportunity escape them?

By the same token, why are we denied the beach experience because of the tawdry Blaine event? Can't we aspire to anything? Can't we learn and just do it better or do the binge drinkers and louts define everything we do?


Niall Connolly

Sunday 20 June 2004 10.13pm
The river side is a missed opportunity aright but its never to late to make amends
Monday 21 June 2004 6.37pm
So I think that my question would be, "How can we take advantage of this opportunity?"

On the one hand we have one community driving out the residential boats which are, in fairness, more in keeping with the river's edge than residential apartments in converted warehouses. On the other we have another community objecting to 'the beach' and another community objecting to residential developments.

It seems that we are far better at objecting than enabling and the sum of these objections will probably continue to be the sterile, post industrial river's edge.

So how do we take advantage of the opportunity?
Monday 21 June 2004 8.13pm

Sometimes I feel like a lone voice on this issue, but...

Warehouses were a feature of the river for hundreds of years - my grandfather used to own one - but they became disused as carrying goods by river and the Port of London declined and the use of boats for commerce also declined.

What I don't understand from your statement is why a residential conversion of the warehouse which held the gooods in "days of yore" is more objectionable than a residential conversion of the boats which carried the goods at the same time...?

I don't want anyone to misunderstand that I hate the idea of residential boats there, because I actually think it is a good idea, but, in the same way that the warehouse conversion needed planning permission, so do the boats, with controls over appearance and number.


Monday 21 June 2004 10.14pm

Don't put words into my mouth. I did not suggest that a residential warehouse conversion was more or less objectionable than a similar residential convertion of a barge.

I commented upon the fact that both are objected to by different communities and I suggested that this 'Nay saying' was at the root of the river's sterility.

But picking up your point about the need for planning consent, there are quite a few residential warehouse conversions which flout planning legislation in the same way as do the barges. Maybe we should get together and exchange notes. Maybe the same level of confrontation could be brought to bear on those developers.


Niall Connolly
Tuesday 22 June 2004 9.55am
I've never heard any one complain about a converted warehouse's

Its the brand new developments that often have no character

Its also has to be said that the people complaining about the moorings are a small minority

Edited 1 times. Last edit at 22 June 2004 9.58am by mickysalt.
Tuesday 22 June 2004 4.10pm


With respect, your statement "On the one hand we have one community driving out the residential boats which are, in fairness, more in keeping with the river's edge than residential apartments in converted warehouses." does indeed "suggest that a residential warehouse conversion was more or less objectionable than a similar residential convertion of a barge. "



Tuesday 22 June 2004 7.13pm

With respect, I know the point that I was trying to make. I was commenting upon the fact that various communities object to different things, all for their own reasons. I was considering the possibility that this 'mutually assured objection' resulted in a sterility which is displayed by the river's edge. That sterility is something that I find to be displayed by most (not all) of the residential conversions on the river's edge.

For me, hustle and bustle would make the river a living part of the city. At present the river is rather like Oxford St with ten buses trundling back and forth and I would rather it was like the the Golden Horn at Istambul, alive with life and vitality.

So, if anyone agrees that the river's edge (and the river itself) lacks life and vitality, maybe we could come up with ideas to promote life and vitality.

And, in case I haven't struck my colours (nautical reference) I rather like 'boat life' on the river's edge. Why? Because it creates a median area, a band where the river is neither fully land nor fully water. Boat life is also out of the mainstream (nautical reference again) and slightly wacky which recommends itself to me. Residential warehouse conversions are ten-a-penny in comparison, and sterile with it. I'm all for a bit of life and vitality.


Niall Connolly

PS If you want a guided tour of the warehouse (mainly faux) developments that flout both the letter and the spirit of planning legislation, get in touch and we'll take a walk.
Tuesday 22 June 2004 10.44pm
The river side in London needs to be more public use ,as apposed to private property,

the retention of the old warehous buildings is an important, part of the vitality of the river side as are the moorings , residential warehouses may not have the vitality of a working dock ,but removing the moorings and building new flats that owe nothing to the vitality of the river side at all is no solution.

Size is no guarantee of a bold statement.

And the worst mistakes can be very small

Edited 1 times. Last edit at 22 June 2004 11.17pm by mickysalt.
Wednesday 23 June 2004 7.49am


Clearly a question of grammar than intention - thanks for the clarification.

I think it is easy to forget how terrible the riverside was, and how hostile to residents and tourists alike.

Whilst we may not like all of the changes, I think it has massively improved and I am happy to spend lots of time walking the riverfront with my family.

It is easy to get it wrong - and indeed most cities do - perhaps it would be worth doing a good and bad cities list to see where we rank....after all we are not the only place in the world which has the conflicts of private enterprise, a difficult planning system and political influence...


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