Thames Tideway, Tileman House & More

Labour's man Stuart King writes to Putney

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Thames Tideway Tunnel
One of the reasons Putney is such a great place is its fantastic riverside. The river is the jewel in London’s crown and it is no coincidence that London’s renaissance as a world class capital has taken place alongside the revitalisation of the Thames. It is cleaner, life is now abundant within it and it is becoming more and more a focus for recreational activity (as we shall see later this month when the boat race returns).

So it is a huge concern in this day and age that whenever it rains heavily tonnes of untreated sewage is pumped into the capital’s river. That’s why Thames Water are planning a massive new sewer that will run beneath the river from West London to East, into which most of this excess rain water will pour (rather than into the Thames).

Recently I invited Thames Water to a meeting with me and members of the Putney Society to explain their plans. As with any massive infrastructure project like this, there are short term consequences. In this case, getting the massive drilling machines down below the Thames will require six huge shafts to be drilled along the length of the tunnel and some 25 further smaller shafts – one at each of the most polluting overflow exit-points – will need to be drilled to connect these overflows to the new tunnel.

One of the big shafts (and to give you an idea of the scale, Thames Water need an area the size of three football pitches for each) will be somewhere in the vicinity of Putney, Barnes or Hammersmith. And there are three overflow points in our area: at the mouth of Beverley Brook, right beside Putney Bridge, and at the mouth of the Wandle.

The sites for the large shafts have not yet been determined and as a result of my briefing, Thames Water have agreed to address a much larger, open meeting of The Putney Society on 25 June when they should have more idea of the potential local impact. You can read more on this important local issue on my website here.

More on Tileman House
The consultation deadline for the 15-storey Tileman House plan has now passed. You can read my objection here.

Over 150 of you responded to my survey on the latest overdevelopment threat to Putney; a similar number took the time to submit their own considered opposition to the plans. That compares to only a handful of supportive statements. The local verdict is clear and, as with Putney Place, it is now over to the council to do the right thing.

One of the big messages coming over loud and clear from the consultation is the huge demand locally for a coherent, strategic plan for Putney. We need a plan; not just to halt short-term planning applications that will have long-term implications for Putney, but to make sure our community is designed and protected sustainably. To make sure our local economy diverse and resilient; to provide the sort of shops we want – not the clone shops and amusement arcades we have. To provide the affordable homes for rent to compensate for the thousands that have been lost - not the private towers the Tories keep building for which it is now evident there is a dwindling market.

That’s why I was enormously pleased by the decision of Hazel Blears, the Communities Secretary, who has “called in” the Ram Brewery tower blocks scheme approved by Wandsworth Council.

Those of us with a clear sense of the importance of protecting Putney and planning for the future need to take the lead so evidently lacking at present. The era of grotesque overdevelopment of Putney must end. We need a plan for Putney.

As ever you can contact me, subscribe to my fortnightly e-news bulletin and read the latest Putney Paper on my website –

And you can now also keep in touch via Twitter and my Facebook group.

March 13, 2009