River Crossings East of Tower Bridge – Docklands Forum 1995

A bit of explanation:  between 1986-1998 I worked for Docklands Forum.  The Forum had evolved from a GLC Department monitoring Docklands Regeneration and community issues.  By the time I got there it had been floated off and was a voluntary sector membership organisation.  Once month we produced an information pack on regeneration issues in Docklands (which included Greenwich, since it had been in the pre-1980 regeneration area).

It is to my great regret that I didn’t just remove the entire set of papers – covering 30 or so years of detailed information on Docklands redevelopment and change – of which we were generally pretty critical.  Someone has that set somewhere (I know who you are) and it would be great to upload from it much of what is still very relevant today.

However, yesterday, I was given a few loose pages from the mid 1990s – better than nothing.  So – I am appending below something quite short, from July 1995 on the Government Office for London’s Consultation on River Crossings to the East of Tower Bridge.  Hope you like it.

DOCKLANDS FORUM                                                                     JULY 1995

River Crossings to, the East of Tower Bridge. A Consultation Document

The Government Office for London (GOL) has issued a consultation document setting out a range of crossings to the east of Tower Bridge. The document aims to develop the Government’s current thinking about River links between Tower Bridge and Dartford and seeks, through its consultation, to establish current reaction to their views on priority, funding, and the form and siting of crossings. The Government’s aim is “to identify buildable schemes for which a broad degree of consensus has been achieved.”

The document states:

”We (the Government) believe that, together, the crossings already in the framework –

• the development of a new crossing at Blackwall for trunk road traffic;

• a possible rail crossing at Woolwich;

• a potential multi-modal local crossing at Gallions Reach (truncated ELRiC); and

• one or more local crossings to the east of Beckton;

make up a logical and viable strategy. It is also important that this strategy should command a wide consensus which takes account of the views and interests of all concerned.

We are now seeking your views on the extent to which you share this strategic picture and what the priorities should. be for implementing it. In looking at priorities, we must balance the potentially conflicting needs of regeneration, sustainability and practicability. We need to look at new ideas for the details of schemes and possible new approaches and new ways of funding. And we need to ensure that East London is not held back by the absence of efficient and effective cross river links in the coming years. ”

Despite the Government’s keenness to involve the private sector (whether financiers, developers or contractors) which they see will be crucial to the delivery of new developments in East London, the  consultation exercise is nevertheless seeking the widest possible views. Community interests are thus
a fundamental element of any future Government consideration. Clearly, the Forum’s involvement in this whole debate, its proven track record of outreach work and community representation at strategic levels on the Docklands Transport Steering Group, and its major river crossings and public transport initiatives, dictates the imperativeness of the Forums’ role in undertaking a comprehensive community consultation exercise to feed into this current
Government river crossings consultation exercise. The Forum would naturally undertake to outreach as many organisations and members as possible and work closely in conjunction with supportive boroughs.

Ron Phillips’ May 1994 foreword for the Forum’s River Crossing Conference stated:

“The proposals to build a bridge at Blackwall gave rise to a considerable degree of alarm by those Docklands Communities who would be affected.

The Limehouse Link road development is still very fresh in people’s minds, with its noise, dirt and dust. loss of homes and disruption of community life.

Once the Docklands Communities’ interest was aroused it became apparent that the proposed Blackwall bridge was only one of several possible road crossings planned east of Tower Bridge. More road crossings will result in an increase in traffic passing through Docklands hence an increase in traffic pollution. The incidence of asthma and bronchial related illness amongst children in the Docklands’ Boroughs is alarmingly high and on the increase. It is believed by many in the medical world to be directly related to the growth in traffic density in the last 15-20 years.

There are numerous proposals for public transport service improvements either already agreed or planned which increase the ease with which the public can cross the river. To what extent will these affect the need for road crossings? Surely this rail road interaction should be examined carefully
for its implications!

At times either Tower Bridge and Rotherhithe Tunnel have been closed to traffic what has happened on both occasions to traffic which would normally have used the crossings? I understand the authorities concerned were unable to detect a noticeable increase in traffic pressure on Southwark Bridge or Rotherhithe Tunnel in the one case and Tower Bridge and Blackwall Tunnel in
the other
. This suggests that the well known conundrum. that providing additional roads to relieve congestion which then in turn become congested, is probably capable of working in reverse to exhibit another Oxford Street effect.

It became apparent to the Docklands Forum that a public conference should be arranged for representatives of the Communities and all those interested in the various proposals to come together for a day-long discussion to explore the various issues. Hopefully a consensus will arise from the Conference. ”

Ron Phillips, July 1995 press statement:

“Once again the Forum’s role must be to act as facilitator in achieving a consensus amongst the Communities of East London in order to input into this strategic consultation exercise. ”

Recommendation: that Members endorse the Forum’s continued active
involvement in the River crossings debate and approve a new 
comprehensive community consultation exercise with the aim of inputting into the Government’s current River Crossings Consultation Exercise.

Note: Any members wishing to proactively participate in this consultation exercise should contact Daniel Dobson-Mouawad at the Forum’s Offices (0171 377 1822). Copies of the consultation document may be obtained from the Government Office for London, contact Maria Groves (0171 276 5266). Responses to this consultation document must be received by 29 September 1995.





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