Greenwich Cyclists praise Thames Path development

I may be a cynical old bugger, but it’s nice not having to complain all the time, and to be able to plant a good news story in the local press which is a little more substantial than one of an old lady being kind to cats. Greenwich Cyclists have something to be thankful for in a recent upgrade to a short stretch of the Thames Path near the Millennium Dome (aka Blair’s Folly), and chose to publicly declare that gratitude.

Thames path renovation by the Bellway Homes development (photo: Francis Sedgemore)
Here is a press release that I sent last week to the local papers…

Greenwich Cyclists, part of the London Cyclists organisation, would like to thank Quintain Estates for their renovation work on that stretch of the Thames Path on the Greenwich Peninsula adjacent to the Bellway Homes development. Those of us who have cycled and walked along the path since it was reopened are impressed with the quality of the landscaping, the delightful little rock garden, play area and provision of cycle stands.

Representatives of Quintain Estates attended a meeting of Greenwich Cyclists last year to outline their plans and solicit our views on the Thames Path work. Their approach to community consultation impressed us then, and the results speak for themselves.

Greenwich Cyclists believe that the process and outcome of the Bellway development sets standards of good practice which others should follow. We would encourage all developers along the Thames Path to adopt a similar approach to public consultation and cooperation with community groups.

To the press release I received a single response from a journalist at the Greenwich Mercury/South London Press: an established, independent local newspaper which over the years has held its own in the face of stiff competition from commercial freesheets and pseudo-journalistic rags published by local authorities. Reporter Julia Lewis decided to run this story with telephone interview quotes from me, and a photograph to accompany the text. Julia’s article appears on page 13 of the 18 May 2011 edition of the Greenwich Mercury. Julia got my title wrong (sniff), but the piece reads well overall, so no complaints from me, despite the wounded pride. :-)

This may be a PR exercise in which I and Greenwich Cyclists, but not Quintain Estates, have been involved, but the point being made here is important. My on-off association with this part of London goes back to the late 1970s, when the River Thames was little more than an open sewer, and public rights of way along its bank were virtually non-existent. Since then there has been a considerable amount of riverside development, not least the building of Blair’s Folly, the raising of desirable residential tower blocks on the Greenwich peninsula, and, of course, the gentrification of London’s docklands on the northern side of the Thames.

The Thames Path is used by local bipeds, cycle commuters and tourists, and the experience is in most part pleasant. There remains some industrial activity on the river, mostly in the form of aggregate firms, with sand and gravel transported in by boat from the Thames estuary, and the combination of industry and residential works well. The regeneration of the Thames has generally been respectful of history and industrial heritage, while incorporating a new aesthetic fit for a 21st century urban community. Long may this continue.