A new floating promenade has won the top planning award from the Mayor of London in March 2011.
Described as 'a new river park', the Thames Promenade is a mile long floating walkway, with themed pavilions and ferry terminals. It is proposed for the north side of the Thames between Blackfriars Bridge and the Tower of London. Designed by Gensler, the project is to be constructed in time for the Olympics with the laudable aim of revitalising the river.
We welcome this ideal as the Thames is an under utilised resource and hope this may be the catalyst for the urgently needed improvement in access to the river to enhance both visitors' and Londoners' experience of the Thames. The river is indeed one of London's most under-used assets.
We note, however, that the majority of existing facilities are on the south side of the river from Westminster Bridge to Tower Bridge. Although it is possible to walk alongside the river from Westminster Bridge/South Bank and past the Tate Modern and Globe Theatre, and on to Tower Bridge/City Hall, ease of access is varied and the route is not continuous. In some sections, namely circumventing Southwark Cathedral and Southwark Bridge, public access to the river is non-existent. If you are ambulant or visually disabled, or elderly, linking accessible sections of the riverside walk becomes a major exercise. It is this stretch of the river, with the greatest pedestrian movement, that is in urgent need of improvement if London's riverside is to be accessible to all, and an enjoyable experience for the increased number of visitors in 2012. Improving the south side of the river would be a real lasting legacy of the Olympics and add to the economic development of the adjoining areas.