Local residents of the Wapping/Shadwell area have launched a petition to save the King Edward Memorial Park from development by Thames Water, who want to build a super sewer in the park. Boris Johnson, Sir Ian Mckellan and Dame Helen Mirren are among those who have expressed outrage against the plans and residents organised a march in March 2011 to hand over 3,500 signatures to the London Assembly.
The park was opened in 1921 on the site of an old fish market and is one of the few places to survive since then in the docklands. As well as being historically important (there is a tablet commemorating four Elizabethan explorers) the park is a vital part of the local community, offering a peaceful green space, views of the river as well as a children’s play area.
Thames Water say the plans are needed in order to build a 20 mile Thames Tunnel to collect millions on tonnes of sewage from across London. They say that 39 million tonnes of untreated sewage finds its way into the Thames every year due to overflow from rain and that London’s Victorian drainage pipes just cannot cope with the growing population.
While it is certainly a massive environmental problem since this untreated sewage is getting pumped into the river and also into the ocean (check out Surfers Against Sewage for more information), at the same time we have to protect our historical places and save parks from becoming building sites. The Save KEMP group argue that this work could be done on a brownfield site and that if it is allowed to go ahead at the park, the work will make it a no-go zone for several years.
You can sign the petition here