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The Olympic redevelopment of east London will bring millions to the area, but is that kind of development really what the capital need? Should more houses and offices be built on the land that is marked for regeneration or is there another way?
Architect Sir Terry Farrell thinks so. He wants to turn the area from the Olympic stadium eastwards right through to north Kent into a national park for the south east. He told Inside Out London his vision….
The area known as the Thames Gateway stretches from London all the way to Margate. Much of it is undeveloped or in serious need of regeneration. Sir Terry believes turning it into a national park with wildlife areas mixed with sustainable housing is the way forward.
It’s a bold proposal for a man better known for creating buildings in the heart of the city.
He’s been quietly shaping the London landscape over the past decade and has been responsible for buildings like the new Charing Cross Station, the MI6 HQ and the new Home Office building. But, now this building impresario wants to build a green legacy in the east.
Sir Terry says: "Before Brunel bewitched us with his railway in the west and before we built motorways like the M4, London always used to look east. London was founded on this river and in the days of the tall ships and empire it was a conduit of dreams, a window to a brave new world - sadly that all changed with the industrial revolution."
The Government is concentrating on housing development in the Thames Gateway area but Sir Terry believes the focus on housing is wrong. He believes London needs to transform this forgotten hinterland into somewhere desirable to live before we build houses.
"I’m not saying we shouldn’t build houses," says Sir Terry, "but we need to create a desirable environment first. If we simply build on brownfield sites, effectively creating whole villages from nothing, we are in danger of repeating the ghetto effects of the 60s."
During his journey, Sir Terry visits Rainham marshes, which is now a bird sanctuary run by the RSPB. It’s been built on an abandoned firing range. He believes places like this can be fully incorporated into his idea of a park and more should be built across the south east.
"There’s no reason why we can’t create a national park here to rival those in the North of England like the Lake district," he says.
|Sir Sandy Bruce Lockhart|
Obviously to turn the plans from paper into reality would take an enormous amount of co-operation between local and central government.
Sir Terry has the backing of the leader of Kent County Council, Sir Sandy Bruce Lockhart.
He believes it’s a good idea but wants to ensure the development of any park would be only co-ordinated with building homes that keep people working locally.
Sir Terry has a vision; for it to be a reality will take a lot of courage and backing from politicians, environmentalists and most of all from the public.