SAVE King Edward Memorial Park!
SaveKEMP is an East-End action group whose call is to protect the only large, safe green space between Tower Bridge and the Isle of Dogs. And Boatshed London is right behind the campaign (after all, we do live in Wapping!).
Thames Water is planning to deface one Tower Hamlets gems, King Edward VII Memorial Park. The extensive works, which will last between 3 1/2 and 7 years, will damage the mature vegetation and wildlife habitats beyond repair and will make the park, its amenities and the Thames Path unusable for the duration of the Tunnel build.
Our campaign agrees that the water quality of the River Thames should be improved. However, our community was devastated to learn that Thames Water proposes to improve water quality at the expense of our park and its river walkway when it is clear that there are other alternatives.
The Park was opened by King George V and Queen Mary in 1922. The inscription on the Park monument reads, “In grateful memory of King Edward VII this Park is dedicated to the use and enjoyment of the people of East London forever”.
Thames Water’s current preferred option for the Super Sewer connector in our part of the world means that, assuming works start in 2013, “forever” is in fact 91 years. The words of a local periodical, published in 1932, still ring true today:
“Until the construction of the Park there was from the Tower of London to the Isle of Dogs no access to the river; no vantage place to awaken imagination and to urge the spirit of adventure by a view of the panorama of the Thames with passing shipping.”
The river view and the green open space were and still are considered as a single amenity. Our Park is the only large, safe green space in a built-up and populated area, enjoyed by youth clubs, schools, charitable organisations, families and individuals from all walks of life, across Wapping, Shadwell, Limehouse, Stepney and beyond.
Thames Water’s plans would mean:
- A permanent massive concrete promontory on the river foreshore
- A 40’ high ventilation tower and filtering plant next to it (an alternative shorter tower would bring different problems, with noxious fumes closer to ground level)
- Up to 7 years of 24/7 construction works, with attendant noise and pollution
- The destruction of about 108 mature trees and a wildflower reserve in what is currently a “Green Flag” park
- The loss of a valued amenity used by all sections of the community – individuals, families and local school groups
- The loss of the playing fields (only football pitch in the area), playground and bandstand and the removal of the memorial benches for the duration of the work
- A permanent change to the Thames Path not just from an aesthetic viewpoint but also from a functional one because Thames Water will need guaranteed access to its machinery thus creating traffic (inspections would also mean routine closures of the path)
In a spirit of constructive co-operation, our campaign has asked Thames Water to use a brownfield rather than a greenfield site to carry out the connector works proposed for our park. We have identified other options which, we believe, would enable the necessary environmental works to go ahead without paying such a heavy price for cleaner water.
Thames Water seems reluctant to take our objections seriously and we are extremely worried that this important part of our local heritage is about to disappear. They have admitted that they could use a brownfield site just off the Highway and have promised to develop plans for this alternative option. Unfortunately though, Thames Water biased approach has shown they have no real intention of doing so and they are actively discouraging locals from accepting the alternative that would save the Park.
Our campaign has cross-party political support, including Boris Johnson; Andrew Boff and John Biggs, Members of the GLA; Jim Fitzpatrick and Rushanara Ali MPs; Tower Hamlets Cabinet and Council, which passed a unanimous motion demanding that an alternative site be found. Celebrities such as Dame Helen Mirren, Sir Ian McKellen, Delia Smith, Lee Hurst and Steven Berkoff have also added their voices. Our petition has attracted over 5,800 signatures. But Thames Water continues to ignore our voices. It is paramount that people keep putting pressure on Thames Water so that they can do the right thing and leave our ONLY Park alone.
Sign our petition at: http://www.gopetition.com/petition/41073/sign.html
Boatshed London is committed to working with our local community and supporting good causes (and selling boats, of course!).