Gummer's U-turn puts Thames trail off course

THE future of the Thames Path, a 210-mile walk along Britain's most famous river from its source to the centre of London, has been put in jeopardy by a decision by the Environment Secretary, John Gummer, to allow new office buildings to be erected on its banks.

Mr Gummer last week gave his go-ahead for offices abutting the Thames at Vauxhall and blocking the riverside path - just a fortnight after he promised to get tough with developers who built unsympathetically along the waterfront. His move runs directly counter to the Thames Strategy, which he commissioned and which includes a commitment to prevent encroachment on to the river's foreshore.

Until now, walkers could stroll all the way along the south bank of the Thames from Tower Bridge to Battersea Park. While several buildings block the path on the north bank, the south offers an inspiring trail past the remains of the Dickensian Clink and Marshalsea prisons, alongside the new Globe Theatre, and on to the Festival Hall. It is then possible to continue through Jubilee Gardens, past the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben on the other side of the Thames, and on to Battersea Park.

However, Mr Gummer has approved plans for 100,000sq m of offices next to Vauxhall Bridge. The buildings, designed by Terry Farrell, will come right down to the bank.

Objectors to the proposals - who included the National Rivers Authority, the London Wildlife Trust, Lambeth Council, English Heritage and the London Rivers Association - have fought a long battle against the plans for the development.

The Thames Strategy was greeted enthusiastically by those who had campaigned for the river's banks to be open to the public - and the biggest fillip to their cause had been Government backing in 1989 for the Countryside Commission's proposed trail, the Thames Path, following the line of the river along previously restricted or private towpaths from its source in Gloucestershire to the Thames Barrier in Woolwich.

Environmentalists fear the Vauxhall site could set a precedent for development of other river sites.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: PMLD Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: PMLD Teacher A specialist primary school i...

Recruitment Genius: Online Media Sales Trainee

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Now our rapidly expanding and A...

Recruitment Genius: Public House Manager / Management Couples

£15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about great ...

Recruitment Genius: Production Planner

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Day In a Page

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links