Category Archives: Our Voice

Frank Water Stops Selling Single Use PET Bottles and Launches ‘Pledge to Refill’ Campaign


FRANK Water has stopped selling spring water in single use plastic bottles. Frank claims they are the first UK bottled water company to end sales of single-use plastic bottles and switch to 100% environmentally sustainable solutions.

To mark the milestone, they have launched the #PledgeToRefill campaign, calling on consumers to carry a refillable water bottle with them to stay hydrated without the need to purchase water (or other drinks) in single-use plastic bottles.

There are several ways you can get involved including making the pledge! Visit and #PledgeToRefill. They will receive bonus funding (£1 per pledge) from their partners for the first 500 pledges!

Volunteers Needed to Collect For Seafarers’ Day on 29 June

Every day we expect fishermen to risk their lives to catch our seafood, the Royal Navy to defend our shores and Merchant Seamen to battle storms to deliver 95% of our imported goods. 

As part of the Annual Seafarers Awareness Week (24-30 June) Seafarers UK is organising a national fundraising and awareness-raising day and needs volunteers to get involved.

Seafarers UK is a charity that gives grants to organisations and projects that make a real difference to people’s lives, across the Merchant Navy, Fishing Fleets, Royal Navy and Royal Marines. Last year it gave grants totalling £2.5million to 69 maritime welfare charities.

Seafarers will build on the success of their fundraising efforts in 2016 to conduct bucket collections in train stations, shopping centres, ferry ports and anywhere else their supporters are allowed to collect.  This is a great opportunity to get out and about in local communities to remind everyone of how much our island nation depends on our seafarers. 

Find out more about how you can help raise awareness and funds on 29 June.

Proposal for a Series of Thames Towns to Help Tackle Housing Crisis

A proposal by Create Streets for the creation of ‘Thames Towns’ – a populist programme for a series of low rise, high density traditional towns along the banks of the Thames Estuary.

Think of the Thames Estuary and you think of Dickens’ description of it “dark, flat, wilderness… intersected with dykes and mounds and gates, with scattered cattle feeding on it.” But change is afoot. It is to be developed. Dickens’ Pip spoke of the ‘immensity of London,’ but it is set to get more immense yet.

London has a housing crisis, with far more houses needing to be built than it has shown the capability of building any time recently. The Thames Estuary, with all its space, seems in many ways to be a good place to build. 87,000 homes are already planned for the north Kent riverside alone.


So, you might be forgiven for thinking that this should be a cause for rejoicing. Yet, as so often is the case with new development, it’s not. Or at least not for everyone.

In Tilbury there are gripes that the gentrification process, once reserved for trendy inner-city London, is impacting the town negatively: development being done to people rather than by or with them. Being beyond the M25 does not seem to leave such places immune to urbanity.


And on the whole nor should they – there’s lots of very good things about living in cities. But likewise there are lots of good things about living in suburbia. There is a ‘sweet spot’ where you can get the advantages of the town (walkability, better access to work and schools) and of suburbia (more personal space, more greenery).

In many ways, the Thames Estuary is already somewhere in between the two. Whilst it is correct that places like Tilbury, or Gravesend to the south of the river, aren’t quite London, to walk around them is to realise that they are very much within the orbit of the capital.

The swathes of industry that dot the landscape are not there by chance. A great many of them are specifically located to bring goods into London, the necessary physical link between the capital and international capital, one that can’t be metal-and-steeled away in the computer screens and offices of the City of London.

Elsewhere, Lakeside and Bluewater are vast sprawling shopping centres, places for those who make their money in and around London to spend it.


And there are places to live even now. It’s neither correct to think of the Estuary as the preserve of industry, nor as an untouched wilderness (although Rainham Bird Sanctuary is a lovely place to see some real nature inside the M25).

The need for more homes in London is a city-wide issue that affects us all. But despite this urgency it is still fair to say that the people who live in the Thames Estuary already are the most important people to consider when we think about what new development should be like there. After all, they’ll be the neighbours of these new residents. They will deal with the changes from the very start.


I’ve alluded to some of the Dickensian heritage already. There’s plenty more: Bram Stoker set Dracula around here: If you go to Purfleet you can still see his old house, they say.

But there are also examples of attractive and popular new housing. Chafford Hundred, built by Lakeside, was once deemed  ’the most coveted address in Britain’ by The Evening Standard. Stroll around its streets and you could forget that you are wedged in between Lakeside to the east and the roar of the A13 to the north. It might be not quite dense enough for the housing needs of 2017. But density doesn’t need to be high-rise, and density doesn’t need to be unpopular.


What will work here then? Across the country, similar types of housing tends to be popular. It doesn’t have to look like a certain era, but it shouldn’t be totally oblivious to local history either.

Look at London, and ask where is densest? And where is the most expensive? It tends to be similar places: Kensington, parts of Islington. Buildings here are often narrow but taller (but not high-rise). This enables fantastically large amounts of housing to fit into relatively small areas, without going above 5 or 6 storeys.


NIMBYism is often used pejoratively, but there are often very understandable reasons why people oppose new housing. In many parts of London, new development is simply a by-word for bad development.

Development that doesn’t adhere to fairly simple but time-honoured principles. The kind of principles that you can find in housing all over the world. Interestingly, these sorts of qualities tend to be popular both when you look at who pays the most for them, and also when you poll people on what they like or will support.

Human scale. Lots of doors onto the street for feelings of security and neighbourliness, whilst preserving some privacy and autonomy. Broken up facades that bring a sense of horizontal as well as vertical scale.

Too often, some of these basics, which are provably good for wellbeing, are value-engineered away somewhere along the process. Unattractive, unhealthy and sometimes even defective homes are built. In the short term the developer might do well by flogging them off and disappearing, but beyond that many more suffer. It needn’t be like that.


So here’s the proposal: a series of ‘Thames Towns’. Some of London’s world-renowned character lies in the fact that it is made up of various town centres that have gradually been subsumed organically into London. As such, these areas have their own distinctiveness. Whilst they might be suburban, or full of commuters, they also have their own centres and their own specific qualities. They are not just dormitory towns.

We want Thames Towns to be like this too – and we want the people who will be living there to have a genuine hand in designing them. We’re proposing a populist programme for a series of low rise, high density traditional towns along the banks of the Thames Estuary. We’re not looking for towers, but nor are we looking for a sprawling car-dependent suburbia.

The amount of development set to happen in the Thames Estuary is huge. But we know what works, and we know that if people genuinely get to influence new development they will support it, often actively. We see Thames Towns as the right way to answer the difficult questions London is facing in the coming years. Thames Towns, if you’ll excuse the mangling of Dickens, could bring us the best of times, and avoid the worst, for the Estuary and for London.

Kieran Toms

Create Streets

Thames association buoys up traditional rowing and sculling

The Thames Traditional Rowing Association (TTRA) exists to support and promote traditional fixed-seat rowing and sculling on the Thames. TTRA use two types of rowing boats – the Thames Waterman’s Cutter and the Skerry. The Skerry is a new design by well known boat builder Mark Edwards MBE, who built the famous Gloriana for the Queens’s jubilee celebrations.


Thames Waterman’s Cutter

The design of the Waterman’s Cutter is based on drawings of boats used by the Waterman of London in the 1700s. In the 1980s the organisers of the Great River Race (from Millwall to Ham, Richmond on 9 September 2017), developed the modern boat and produced the first of the fleet of 24, many of which now compete annually in this marathon.


Cutter in full regalia

The Cutters are 34 feet long with a beam of 4ft 6 inches and can be rigged for up to six oarsmen either rowing or sculling.

In keeping with their traditional origins they can carry a cox and passengers under a canopy, resembling the decorated craft commonly depicted in 17th and 18th century prints and pictures of the River Thames. Nowadays, with the canopies and armorial flags flying they perform the role of ceremonial livery barges on special occasions.

The Watermen’s Cutters compete  ever year in the Port of London Challenge, the Port Admirals’ Challenge and the Great River Race. There are also Cutter races in regattas in towns outside London.


The Skerry

Mark Edwards designed the Skerry and chose the name as it combines elements of the traditional Thames boats, the skiff and the wherry.

After many years of building what were essentially copies of existing rowing boats, Mark realised there was a need for a boat which could:
• accommodate up to eight rowers, plus a cox to steer
• have enough space for up to three passengers, including a coach.
• be safe in a wide a range of conditions
• be fast, responsive and easy to row and steer
• be  in part be built by amateurs and is robust and easy to maintain
• help continue the ancient tradition of wooden clinker built boats.

The Skerry is what Mark Edwards created to meet his requirements. It is not to big, only 9 metres long, and can be hauled by a two-wheeled truck and taken long distances very easily.

For more information, including the wide range of TTRA events this year see:



Making London A National Park City

What it means for London

Making London a National Park City draws from the values of the UK’s rural national parks – better conservation, better enjoyment and better economy – and extends this into the city. 

The aim is for residents, communities and businesses to work together to:

  1. Make London greener – improving London’s air and water quality and the variety of plant and animal life in London’s habitats.
  2. Make more of London’s outdoor heritage – improving health, connecting all London’s children to nature and ensuring all Londoners have free and easy access to high quality green space.
  3. Make a new National Park City identity for London – inspiring new business activities and promoting London as a Green World City.



Making it Happen

An recent, independent poll of over 1,000 Londoners found that 85% support London becoming a National Park City.

With the right support, London could be declared a National Park City as soon as spring 2018.

So far the Mayor of London, the London Assembly and 228 ward teams have given their support, however, to make London a National Park City another 100 ward teams are required. To register your support as an individual, or as a company, or for your ward go to




Funding is not being sought from London’s councils or central government but will be through a mixture of private giving, corporate giving and corporate services.  

It is envisaged that this initiative may cost around £4 million a year to run, which is about the cost of running a rural National Park or a medium-sized secondary school.


Find out more

explore this website to learn more about what it would mean for London to be a National Park City.

Find out more about the aims of the London National Park City campaign on this website.

There are some useful FAQs here.  

Musicians and Spoken Word Artists Apply by 26 May to Perform Under Tower Bridge

Two exciting opportunities are now open to perform at this year’s Bascule Chamber Concerts. The Bascule Chambers is the unique and atmospheric subterranean space in Tower Bridge where the bridge’s huge counterweights swing down as the bridge above ascends. 



The Bascule Chambers team want to hear your ideas for creating and performing a new 4-6 minute work that responds to the atmospheric underground space inside Tower Bridge.


Spoken Word Artists, Performance Poets

This is an opportunity for you to create new spoken word work –  two 2-3 minute pieces – to perform live at the concert in between the music repertoire.


Find out More


New cycling and walking strategy wins £1 billion funding


The Department of Transport (DoT) has announced plans to oversee £1 billion of funding over the next five years investment in cycling and walking, for distribution to local bodies

The DoT stated, “We want to make cycling and walking the natural choices for shorter journeys, or as part of a longer journey.”  This new aim is the result of a consultation last year on a new cycling and walking strategy for England. The report expands on the goals it envisages the government ambition for England in this field, recaps on what has been achieved to date and sets out a strategy framework to achieve this ambition.

The  idea behind this initiative is to encourage walking and cycling as part of our everyday lives, will reduce the cost of travel and improve health for individuals. It will lead to lower congestion, improved air quality and make possible healthier and  more active communities.

The (DoT) report recognised that to achieve these goals, cycling and walking needs to be seen “as safe, normal and an enjoyable way to travel”.

The report sees the strategy being worked out at a local level with the help of third sector organisations.

Guidance has been published on the creation of Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plans to help stakeholders to identify local issues and implement local solutions, also to make the best use of such aids as the Propensity to Cycle Tool.

The report also confirmed that an Independent Expert Committee of six to eight members, including a Chair, would review the strategy, aid partnerships, and advise on future phases.  The committee will be supported by a Delivery Unit hosted within the DoT.

Various case studies were used in the report to show what can be achieved in a local area. For example, Cycle Southend Bikeability recentl gave children cycling lessons and doubled the number of children cycling to school each week in the area.

It is hoped that the fresh strategy will change attitudes to walking and cycling,  using a multi-layered approach.

The strategy document can be found:


To support the strategy the government has also published:

A government response to the consultation on the draft Strategy, Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy: Investment Inputs, Outputs and Outcomes.

The Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy: Information leaflet for members of the public.

The Guidance on the creation of Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plans can be found here:

Written by TEP member Catherine Quinn

May 2017





Coastal Communities Fund – impressive achievements in 2016

Andrew Percy, Under Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, introduced the third annual progress report 2016 of the Coastal Communities Fund, founded in 2012.

Here is a slightly edited version of Andrew Percy’s comments. For the full report:

“The third progress report describes the Fund’s impressive achievements across the UK since its launch in 2012. It shows the varied ways our coastal communities have risen to the challenges they face, transforming and diversifying their economies, whilst promoting their traditional assets.

“The Coastal Communities Fund provides a targeted source of help to seaside towns. This has allowed it to support many exciting and innovative projects that support jobs and growth in coastal areas, but which don’t always satisfy the funding criteria of other often much larger funding programmes.

“Furthermore, the report shows that the achievements of the Fund are creating a momentum – attracting high quality projects that are bringing real and sustainable benefits to coastal communities throughout the UK.

“The extension of the Coastal Communities Fund for another four years to 2020-21 with at least £90 million available, and the creation of 146 Coastal Community Teams in England will help seaside towns and coastal areas achieve even more success in the years ahead.

“The Government is committed to helping coastal communities flourish and strengthen their appeal as places to live, work and visit.

“The Fund is an important part of the Government’s wider efforts to promote local growth and to create an economy that works for everyone.

“From Amble to Anglesey, Rathlin Island to Kilkeel, and from Brighton to Bute, more than 200 projects have been awarded grants which are predicted to safeguard or create up to 18,000 new jobs and attract over £200 million in co-funding.

“Coastal tourism has regained its position as England’s largest holiday sector and is now worth £8 billion annually.

“With one third of all domestic overnight trips to the coast there is huge potential for our Great British and Northern Ireland Coast to thrive all year round.”

“Floatable” housing development to aid flood alleviation

Can-float residential properties beside a major river before a flood event.


Floodline Developments, a UK property developer, promotes housing development that can rise and fall with the water level; their developments are on and around lakes that retain floodwater from local rivers and streams in order to alleviate flood flow downstream.


This means that houses can be developed in flood zones, without raising them on plinths that displace floodwater and require substantial ramps and steps for access. More than 20,000 homes in the Netherlands are already built as “can-float” or are fully floating.


The “can-float” design concept that Floodline is pursuing is distinct from fully floating designs; they construct two-storey houses on buoyant, hollow, concrete “raft” basements contained within concrete basins; the buildings are able to rise and fall on vertical guide piles when the concrete basins flood.


Can-float residential properties during a flood event.

Entry to the houses is provided by means of sliding ramps with flexible utility connections – these adjust to the rise of water level, in a similar way to pontoon docks.

Join a competition to make London the first National Park City by 19 May

In partnership with Time Out London, London National Park City is calling for artists, designers, illustrators, cartographers, film-makers, developers, architects and landscape architects to enter a competition to visualise London as the world’s first National Park City.

The Thames Estuary Partnership’s Director Pat Fitzsimons is on the judging panel.

The idea of the competition is to attract the best ideas for achieving the aim of making London a National Park City.

Submission Deadline for entries (to include images and artwork): 23:59 BST Friday 19 May 2017.

Judging will take place: 19 – 26 May 2017.

The National Park Idea is about protecting and improving London’s existing green and blue spaces and developing other outdoor spaces to ensure that all Londoners have easy and free access to high-quality green space and to boost London’s biodiversity.

A defining element of the National Park City is that it pays attention to nature and to the potential for nature within the built environment.

When you take part in this competition, dream the possible, knowing that your ideas may transform how Londoners live, work and play.

Your ideas do not just have to be for future urban developments but could involve re-imaginations of London’s current cityscape.

Your ideas could be small scale and that could have a big impact on Londoners’ lives. The ideas could be very different – transformative and on a large scale. It’s up to you!



The London National Park City draws from the values of the UK’s rural National Parks –  better conservation, better enjoyment and better economy –  and extends these values into the cities.

The initiative is about transforming London’s entire habitat. It’s about seeing the gardens, streets, rivers, buildings and parks as one landscape.T

The aim is to have all Londoners to benefit from the National Park City, but also to contribute to it.

The initiative hopes to inspire and educate Londoners, persuading them to get outdoors by stimulating an immense variety of exciting and imaginative activities and grasping new opportunities.

It will enhance the quality of life in London and make it a more attractive place for activities of all kinds, including business and investment.

As the world’s first National Park City, London’s brand and its place as a global city should be enhanced.



You are invited to imagine London at any scale:

  • What ‘micro-greening’ (e.g. a single balcony) can give a home to wildlife?
  • Can a commuter route become a ‘green corridor’?
  • How could a high-rise block enable children to play outdoors easily?
  • What plans for streetscapes, neighbourhoods, or even London’s entire watershed could transform London lifestyles and address London’s challenges?
  • Plans could include air quality, biodiversity, road congestion, community cohesion, mental health, and childhood obesity.


The process


Submission Deadline: 23:59 BST Friday 19 May 2017.
Judging: 19 – 26 May 2017.


Submissions should be in English.

Please send your artwork to

Images must be high resolution 300 dpi with a short description of the work. They can be any size, but consider that if selected, most people will see the image either on a computer screen or printed in a newspaper or magazine.

If your file is large, use Dropbox, or another appropriate service, and email a link to the file.

By submitting any images you give London National Park City permission to publish them with full acknowledgements on its website and to share them with the media for republication.


Entries will be judged on:

  • How well the vision embodies the spirit of the National Park City idea.
  • How inspirational the vision is.
  • Whether the vision can be replicated or scale-able.
  • The quality of the image.

The judging panel will comprise a range of experts and National Park City Foundation Trustees including Pat Fitzsimons (Thames Estuary Partnership), Will Self, Andrew Grant (Grant Associates), Gemma Ginty (Future Cities Catapult), Alison Prendiville (London College of Communication), Steve Head (Wildlife Gardening Forum), Pat Fitzsimons (Thames Estuary Partnership), Ben Smith (AECOM), Judy Ling Wong (Black Environment Network).


A small number of entrants will be awarded prizes for their work in the form of exposure in London Time Out magazine, in London National Park City’s marketing and communications, and will be promoted to professional and popular media publications from June.

Many of the entries will be published in a gallery on the London National Park City website.

Eligibility & participants

This competition is open internationally to professionals and students from architecture, landscape architecture, urban and regional planning, environmental planning, graphic, product and media design, cartography, photography, film, the visual arts and similar fields.

Submissions are welcomed from organisations, teams or individuals.
Find out more about London as a National Park City

For inspiration, explore this website to learn more about what it would mean for London to be a National Park City.

Find out more about the aims of the London National Park City campaign on this website.

There are some useful FAQs here.

Tweet any questions to @LondonNPC #NationalParkCity.