Support grows to save Wapping’s King Edward Memorial Park

The campaign is growing more and more. We are gathering political backing and the attention of the media. We are still working very closely with the community and have launched many initiatives aimed at informing as many people as possible of Thames Water’s proposed plans for our lovely King Edward VII Memorial Park.

We have had a fantastic workshop at St Peter’s School, Wapping, with the kids of Year 5. It was a heart-warming experience and the children were absolutely outstanding. We will continue working with them but we are also going to work with two other schools in the area.

Exhibition at Watney Street market

We have also had a very successful exhibition at Watney Market (Shadwell) last Saturday where we have collected another 452 signatures and launched our new Call to Action. We want Tower Hamlets residents to lobby Boris Johnson. A letter template is available on our website. The Mayor of London’s report on Thames Water seemed to take the Super-Sewer plans at face value. We want him to look at the plans again and realise that our Park will be irreparably ruined should construction take place. Please get involved and circulate our petition and letter among your friends.

John Biggs, our elected Member to the London Assembly, will be addressing the GLA and presenting our petition. He is a strong supporter of our cause and will be telling the Mayor and the Assembly that brownfield sites alternatives do exist. We need as many letters as we can to support him!

But we have exciting news from our Borough as well. We have received a lot of support from our Councillors across the whole political spectrum. On Wednesday 2 February, unanimous support from Tower Hamlets Council to a motion demanding full protection of the Park was won. This is a great result from the meeting which is presided by the mayor and attended by the full chamber of LBTH.

Alternative brownfield sites

Although it is not the job of residents to look for alternative sites for the Super-Sewer (unlike Thames Water’s employees, we do not get paid for it) we have come up with alternative sites for the project. I must stress that SaveKEMP is not opposing the Tunnel at all. We recognise the pressing need for an update of the sewage system in London and we understand that the EU has commenced legal proceedings against the UK because of the non-compliance to waste-management directives. Yet, we do not feel that the Super-Sewer should be built at the expense of local communities especially when alternatives are available.

But before we address the alternatives, let me spend just a quick word on an issue that has been raised during the exhibition at Watney Market. Some people are worried about the fact that Shadwell Basin is still in Thames Water’s short-list. This was listed as a “major construction” site. Thames Water’s plans clearly state that to pick up the CSO at King Edward VII Memorial Park they need an “intermediate” site which rules out the use of Shadwell Basin automatically. The whole consultation was done on this premise. It is most unlikely that they would turn around now. They would be challenged and sent back to consultation again. They can’t afford the time it would take. In addition, the Basin is a high density populated area and construction there would hardly be allowed. These “implausible sites” have been placed on the short-list just to make the preferred option look reasonable.

At least two alternative sites

We have indicated at least two alternative sites, which I will summarise for you:

  1. The cement plant on the Highway: this is an industrial plant already. Due to the prevailing winds, the ventilation air from the shaft would blow towards the Limehouse link and not towards a residential block as in the case of the park’s foreshore. The plot is plenty big enough and the cement plant, unlike our Park, can be easily be relocated elsewhere. This site is preferable to the Heckford Trading Estate (short-listed by Thames water) because is further away from residential areas.
  2. Corner of Butcher’s Row and Cable Street North: this is a vacant lot marked for development. It is in urgent need of regeneration. I think we can all agree that we do not need yet more luxury flats in this area. We are overcrowded as it is. Thames Water could use this site and the previous one and spare our park but also the lovely St Katherine’s Christian retreat.

The alternatives are there. Thames Water needs to listen and go back to the drawing board and come up with plans that are respectful of our communities.

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