A London to sea Thames Estuary Path is now government policy.
The Thames Gateway Parklands Vision was launched this week by architect Sir Terry Farrell, the Government’s Parklands design champion, at the Thames Gateway Green Forum.
Speaking alongside Sir Terry at the Royal Horticulural Hall, Housing Minister Iain Wright said that urban parks, marshlands, waterways and green spaces will be as integral as housing, jobs and commerce in the Thames Gateway of the future.
A Thames Estuary Path, a continuous link on both banks of the estuary from the Isle of Dogs to the coastal path network, exists in places as the Parklands Vision document published last Thursday acknowledges.
It seems realistic when it suggests that “there are some unavoidable obstructions in some locations along the water’s edge. It is essential that diversions away from the river are of the highest possible quality”.
One interesting passage reads: “Hinterland connections could function as alternative routes in the event of unusually high tides.”
The Thames Path National Trail has already been unofficially extended east on the south side as far as Erith. The very last stretch to Margate in Kent exists as the Saxon Shore Way.
In 1980, when I was asked by Thames Water to start work on a Thames Path feasibility study, the London end was to be Westminster Bridge. This was soon extended to the Barrier.
In my report, eventually published by the Countryside Commission in 1984, I suggested that “the Walk could be extended downstream to Essex and Kent”. Nearly thirty years later it’s good to see the full route now being seriously discussed.
The main aim should be to achieve the easier southern route.