The Friends of Regent's Canal have had very little time to review these plans, but it is not too late for us to raise some questions and doubts.

As a group our main concern is the impact the redevelopment will have on the towpath experience. The towpath stretch between Victoria Park and Mile End Park is relatively unspoilt and it forms a chain in a green corridor.

Judging by the sketches and detailed drawings in the planning documents, the towpath will lose its appeal to many recreational users.

There are two particular reasons why the towpath could lose its appeal. The first is that its connection to history will be diluted if it becomes dominated by contemporary landscaping. The second is that this open space will become more claustrophobic due to the high frontages of blocks A and C and their overlooking balconies.

Retaining the towpath's character

If the towpath is to retain its character then it must be segregated from the piazza. Users of the piazza will still be able to enjoy the views of the towpath and the canal, while towpath users can walk freely onto the piazza at the top of the ramp. Feathered steps will not enhance the towpath; they will give the appearance that the towpath is part of the piazza and this will devalue the piazza. Also, the steps could create a safety hazard for towpath users climbing or descending the ramp. The Design and Access drawings are inconsistent, as some of them show feathered steps while others show continuous railings along the edge of the piazza.

Here is a sketch of the piazza showing how it is separated from the ramp by a metal balustrade with broad timber coping.

Here is a sketch showing feathered steps leading from the pizza onto the towpath. This is inaccurate because the towpath is narrower than this along the ramp.

These diagrams illustrate the plans for introducing feathered steps.

It is not clear whether these plans have been dropped.

If these steps are still in the plans then it is worth campaigning to revert to a balustrade, because the steps will create safety hazards as well as undermining the heritage value of this location.

Ed's Note - a CRT spokesman has confirmed (8th April 2013) that the feathered steps were removed from the design at a very early stage. They were suggested by the architects but the idea was never carried forward. Unfortunately they remained in several sketches.

Height and proximity of the buildings on the Regent's Canal towpath

This shows the sharp increase in the height of the skyline relative to the Regent's Canal towpath. The proposed building (Block A) is much closer to the towpath than the existing building.

This shows the architect's justification for stepping up the height of the building nearest the Regent's Canal. "Due to the height at bridge level, the front of Block A will give the impression of a two storey block with third floor in the roof".

This shows the significant narrowing of the space available on the ramp that joins Regent's Canal towpath to the Hertford Union Canal towpath.

Although the width of the path will probably remain the same, the proximity of the building will change drastically.

Return to main page