Should the Thames become a conservation area?
The River Thames is an important stretch of water with the activities on and around it – such as London boat hire companies – making a significant contributor to London’s economy, so it is vital that the nature of it is preserved for future years.
Historic England, a public body that preserves England’s historic environment, has received a grant for £88 million through the Department for Culture, Media and Sport for the coming financial year. It has decided that some of this money will fund protection of part of the Thames in central London and they are developing proposals for the eight-mile section between Tower Bridge and Putney to become a conservation area. Public consultation on this will begin next month.
Are these plans necessary or might they simply slow down development and damage the area?
Is protection needed?
If this part of the Thames became a conservation area, it would effectively prevent any new high-rise buildings along the riverfront to preserve the integrity of the location. However, arguments say that this would reduce the city’s ability to build the residential and office spaces necessary for the future.
Redevelopment is unlikely for parts of the river that need protection. The Tower of London, for instance, is already a conservation area. Historic England, though, is looking at more contemporary parts of the river. Some South Bank venues in London, such as those in Vauxhall, could be destroyed if further development went ahead.
There will undoubtedly be arguments on both sides of the debate, even after the consultation process is complete. We will have to wait and see who wins when the proposals are finalised.