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24 September 2014

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Inside Out

Sir Terry Farrell
Sir Terry Farrell

Thames Gateway

Inside Out talks to architect Terry Farrell who questions whether east London should see more houses built as part of Olympic 2012 redevelopment...

Inside Out

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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."

Rainham Marshes
Rainham Marshes

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
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.

last updated: 26/09/05
Have Your Say
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Roy Evans
I agree with Sir Terry`s views.As the East End of London has been a slum area all my lifetime of 80yrs.It`s about time this area was turned around to please east end people.who deserve this area to be regenerated.

I think that this sounds like a good idea but it could all go wrong at some point in future times. Terry has some good ideas and London really needs more environmentally-friendly areas such as his proposed national park. However I think he will struggle for his plans to be put into action due to the strong opposition to his views he will surely face.

Have people begun to question the quality of life within London itself first? Maybe it's an issue of not building outwards but focusing on the existing city life? More and more people are beginning to leave the city to the suburbs, rather than extending the city out towards the suburbs why not deal with the issue from the heart?

Graham Herbert
Please do not restrict this idea to East London. Broaden your vision and include the vast marshland/wetland areas of North Kent and the Isle of Sheppey. This area could becomes 'Englands Everglades' to use an American similarity. If thia unique area was in the USA it would become a National Park properly managed and expland like the Everaglades with vistor centres ecological and wildlife explanations and boat trips to see the wild life with vistor facilities etc.

IF THEY ARE BUILDING 18T homes in Thurrock the place will be in even more gridlock. The East of England Regional Assembly are sensible to withdraw backing re lack of infrastructure. Terry Farell is 100% right. Just ask why are so many old Thurrock residents so desperate to move away?

Alison Arthur
A brilliant, visionary concept - let's hope Ruth Kelly et al have the daring and imagination to adopt this plan which would win the gratitude of all those people of Kent who fear the current concrete threat to our beleaguered county.

Ben Russell
Absolutely, just building thousands of homes on brown field sites will not be effective long term. They will not ne nice places to live and we will end up footing the bill for the regeneration of the area in another 30 years.

Thank goodness for some vision and a positive response. Perhaps he could also focus on councils who allow developments on every piece of 'green lung'amongst housing communities? People need places to breathe without having to travel by bus or car.........

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