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Peter Murray

 

Passions run high on all sides in discussions about the future of the Green Belt, but this often produces more heat than light. This London Society Debate: A Better Green Belt? Making the Green Belt fit for the 21st Century brought together five speakers with differing views to give their opinions on what, if anything, should be done: Richard Knox Johnston, London Green Belt Council; Richard Upton, Deputy Chief Executive U+I plc; Merrick Denton-Thompson, the Landscape Institute; John Myers, London YIMBY and Alice Roberts of the CPRE. Paul Finch of Architects’ Journal chaired the discussion, and Saul Collyns reports.

Paul Finch of architects' journalThe green belt tends to provoke passionate debate amongst Londoners, and this was no less true at the London Society debate. Nevertheless, ever keen to move discussions forward (London Society played an instrumental role advocating for its creation in the 1930s), this event aimed to move beyond binary discussions with speakers characterised as ‘for’ or ‘against’, to explore how it can be made fit for the 21st century.

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Peter Murray

 

On 8 March London Society members heard from architect Liam Hennessy who presented Park Lane Boulevard: A vision without tunnels, his proposal to transform Park Lane from a highway to a fine boulevard, humanising what is currently a noisy, polluted urban motorway. Saul Collyns reports.

Microsoft PowerPoint - 150710 Park Lane Boulevard.pptxSpurred by a desire to improve Park Lane’s environment without placing the road into a tunnel, Liam Hennessy proposes to transform Park Lane into a boulevard, and explained that it was conceptualised according to three principal objectives: That an altered Park Lane would not have reduced traffic capacity, that all Plane trees would be kept, and that there would be pedestrian crossings rather than subways.

Hennessy shared images of Park Lane that demonstrate how the heavy traffic volumes and narrow pavements create an unpleasant environment for pedestrians. There are only two pedestrian crossings across the entire road (in an equivalent stretch of road adjacent to Central Park there are seven), and the coach parking spaces lining the road further sever connections between Hyde Park and Mayfair.

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Peter Murray

 

On 8 November around 300 members and non-members of the Society came together in St Marylebone Parish Church to hear Sir Terry Farrell give this year’s Sir Banister Fletcher Lecture which he called “Shaping London”. Saul Collyns reports.

cwwxrnxw8aakfbyIn the 2016 Sir Banister Fletcher Memorial Lecture,renowned architect and urban planner Sir Terry Farrell, set out a fascinating viewpoint of London that revealed new connections between London’s past, present and future.

Farrell began by underlining the importance of ‘place as client’ as the guiding principle of his work. He believes in examining what a place aspires to be, separating it from any client base in order to fully understand its intricacies.

Farrell’s place-based approach has compelled him to study the different factors that have shaped London’s development, and he captivated us with some of his findings. London has grown organically, with much of its geography dictated by the River Thames. A fascination with the river’s bends led Farrell to realise that it was always deeper on the outside bend, with a build up of silt on the inner bend. As the city grew, large settlements such as Kingston and Richmond were built on the outer bends, which are easily navigable by boat, whereas parks or areas of low land value are located on the inner bends (notably the city’s numerous docks). A lack of river crossings in east London has also impeded connectivity and thus development. No flat-level bridges (which Farrell considers to be a crucial component of city making) cross the Thames downstream of Tower Bridge, so Farrell recently proposed a plan for 8 new low-rise bridges to the east, which would provide much needed connectivity to support more housing development.

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