Islands in the Thames – a vision for new London

Three years ago I worked on a proposal for “Thames Reach – A New City”, and published the ideas with sketches, provided by Area Architects, of what could be achieved. I was seeking to show that there was scope for more construction, and a more imaginative approach to new housing estates and commercial estates in the East Thames Corridor.

The part of the plan which excited most attention from the media was the suggestion that we could reclaim some land from the Thames, and extend the built area into the estuary. It seemed to me that we could use such new land to take the pressure off greenfield sites in Kent, and, out of the proceeds of all the planning permissions, we might be able to pay for the additional flood defences London and the East Thames developments are going to need.

I was delighted to see yesterday that Scott Wilson, the engineering consultancy, has taken up a variant of the idea and has drawn on Terry Farrell’s scheme for a bridge linking Kent to Essex via islands in the estuary. Apparently there are interested Middle Eastern investors, who have seen how well reclaimed land and property development has worked in Dubai.

If London is to keep its place as one of the world’s great cities, and as an attractive place for inward investors, we need the next Docklands to keep the momentum going. What better option than to create waterside locations for offices, shops and residential developments, by reclaiming estuary land? At the same time, deep-water channels could be dredged for shipping and London’s sea defences strengthened.

Click here to download John’s PowerPoint presentation on “Thames Reach – A New City”. Please contact his office directly for a copy of his pamphlet on this subject, which is too large to upload onto the website.


  1. Rose
    May 12, 2008

    Did you include plans for an airport in the estuary?

    Reply: No, because I want to see them built!

  2. Stuart Fairney
    May 12, 2008

    I also saw this scheme covered in yesterday's papers. As someone who works in construction, I am constantly frustrated by the lack of imagination shown by the UK planning authorities, especially as one travels the world and sees what is being achieved in places like Dubai and Beijing.

    If I may JR, congratulations on having great vision, I hope the next tory government has the political will to drive this.

  3. Nick Longworth
    May 12, 2008


    What's your view on the idea of a new international airport in the estuary?

    Looking at the Hong Kong and Tokyo experience, this appears superficially to be a solution to the troubles of Heathrow expansion. It has already been raised by our new London Mayor, but would require a broad coalition behind it, sound economics and, of course, come under parliamentary rather than mayoral jurisdiction.

    As I start my research into this, I wondered if you had done any work on it.

    Thanks in advance.

    Nick Longworth

    Reply: No I have not. I have kept a new airport out of the plan as that would be very contentious.

  4. backofanenvelope
    May 12, 2008

    Instead of me having to fish thru' my rubbish every day; how about using it to reclaim land? Lets dig out the old Mulberry files. Two lines of prefabricated caissons dropped into the sea; fill in between them using "landfill". We could break the back of the Severn barrage project in the same way.

  5. mike stallard
    May 12, 2008

    This is a brilliant concept. I really do hope it gets off the ground.
    I live in the fens which were drained by the Dutch and which produced several new towns in the 18th century.
    I have actually seen the new "palms" in Dubai from the air and from the sea and they are very impressive indeed. They are an enormous tribute to the Makhtoum family and to their vision.
    I do hope that my own country can emulate both the above.
    Well done for your vision.

  6. NigelC
    May 13, 2008

    What are your thoughts on the East Of England Plan published on May 12th for 508,000 houses in the region but only £150M extra in infrastructure funding

    Reply: I believe there needs to be proper infrastructure provision, and more effort to gain the consent of the local communities that will be affected. Compensation can help.

  7. Ethan Hurlington
    May 13, 2008

    It says that (Thames Reach – A New City by John Redwood is available through this site)…I would very much like to read it in full, but can't find it on the site…how would I go about getting hold of it?

    Yes – it will be put on today – I was in Crewe yesterday and did not get the chance to put it on. Sorry.

  8. Bexleyite
    May 13, 2008

    I never fully understood why Foulness wasn't pursued as an alternative to Stansted, Gatwick or enlargement at Heathrow as a 3rd London airport.

    Kent and Essex are now ruined anyway.

  9. Adrian Peirson
    May 14, 2008

    If there were'nt too many People here already we wouldn't have to spoil the Thames even more.

    Reducing the Population would also cut Pollution, road congestion, the housing shortage, crime, Prison over crowding.

    Just what sort of a Country do you people want to Bequeth to your children.

    Think about that next time you are stuck in a traffic jam or go shopping in our cities.

    divide and conqEUr

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