5th Studio's Fatwalk in Poplar
Architect’s Olympic legacy project could be abandoned in bureaucratic shakeup
A flagship Olympic legacy project is under threat because it has been orphaned in a bureaucratic shakeup.
Supporters of 5th Studio’s Lea River Park, which would link the Olympic Park with the Thames, said it would be a tragedy if the scheme was allowed to perish.
Millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money, five years’ work and possibly the last chance to stitch together the fractured brownfield sites of the Lower Lea Valley would be squandered, they said.
The three-mile park and its central Fatwalk concept are at detailed design and have full planning consents.
The only thing holding back the £28 million project is the need for compulsory purchase agreements to be completed to create a continuous link.
This must be done by the London Thames Gateway Development Corporation (LTGDC), the “priority” project’s original sponsor.
But the LTGDC is being wound up this autumn and many of its responsibilities, as well as its funding, have been transferred to the mayor’s London Legacy Development Corporation. Meanwhile the project itself has been “migrated” to the GLA, meaning no one has overall responsibility.
Tom Holbrook, director of 5th Studio, has written to Boris Johnson urging him to take charge of what he described as “probably the mayor’s most prominent and prestigious project”.
“Attempts to brief GLA officers have met with failure and, to our knowledge, no one is now working on the project,” he wrote.
If the outstanding legal work is not completed before the LTGDC is abolished in October the chance to create the park could be lost forever, said Holbrook.
“This would be a scandalous waste of millions of pounds of public money that have already been invested in creating the park. This work is therefore critical to allow the project to progress and requires minimal investment,” he said in the letter copied to mayoral design adviser Terry Farrell and LLDC chairman Daniel Moylan.
Former London Development Agency boss Peter Bishop said: “It’s a brilliant project which could have a fundamental effect on knitting together bits of east London. It would be a tragedy if it wasn’t completed to its fullest extent.”
Daniel Moylan said the section within his jurisdiction, the Greenway, was complete. He refused to comment further.
The mayor’s office had not responded when BD went to press.
The Lea River Park seeks to complete the green link between the Thames and the city fringe envisaged by Abercrombie’s London Plan 70 years ago.
The design framework published by 5th Studio and German landscape architect Latz & Partners in 2008 set out a vision to guide a series of competitions and commissions that would be completed by 2020.
It split the Lower Lea Valley into nine territories connected by a north-south “Fatwalk” path. They would include a forest planted around listed gasholders and a floating lido at Leamouth.
Three new pieces of infrastructure would close fractures in the park; beneath the A13, at Poplar Reach and at Bromley-by-Bow.
14 February 2013
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