Londoners have far better ideas for the Silvertown Road Tunnel!

My new report gives you greener, more creative ideas from children living in London as well as insight from brilliant local campaigners.

The report, Better ways to use the Silvertown Road Tunnel, comes out of workshops held in City Hall earlier this year with children, campaigners and experts, and gives campaigners a new tool to think about how a tunnel that has already been started could be finished in a way that doesn’t cause so much harm. 

This summer, I brought together Londoners with a scale model of the tunnel plans in two workshops. At the first workshop, local children came up with creative ideas for performances, art, and play to make use of the vast space, including a ‘hospital for nocturnal animals’, an ‘underwater playpark’ and a stables.

In the second workshop, campaigners discussed earlier ideas that had been considered and developed by Transport for London and local councils, including for trams and a DLR extension, and they explored ways to include walking and cycling within the plans.

The work I have done with local people to produce this report shows there are still better and greener ideas for improving options to cross the Thames in this area. 

A wide range of Londoners and their elected representatives now accept that building a new road tunnel in east London is wrong, and the Mayor must have the political courage to listen to them and think again. 

Here are just some of the ideas in the report – make sure to read the full thing here!

Idea 1: A two-way tram link. This idea goes all the way back to the turn of the century. By needing only a single-bore tunnel, cost savings could be used to build the Greenwich Waterfront Transit’s proposed links from Canning Town to Greenwich and Thamesmead, which was dropped in 2009.

Idea 2: A DLR extension. An Eltham DLR extension was earlier regarded as: “the highest profile service likely to attract the largest patronage and offering the best and most reliable journey time of all the options considered.”

Idea 3: Walking and cycling. An interesting suggestion inspired by the Greenwich Foot Tunnel nearby, which has suffered from high demand and limits to reliability due to problems with lifts. If Lyon, France can do a 1.8 km walking and cycling tunnel, why can’t we do 1 km?

Idea 4: Multiple modes? Our scale model of the tunnel put this idea into perspective. When workshop participants pointed out potentially wasted vertical space currently designed into the plans, we wondered: could the tunnel be designed to have an upper and lower level?

Idea 5: Two-bore options. The tunnel boring machine is currently digging the first of two proposed tunnels for four lanes of new traffic. All the above options are for if we stop digging after the first, but here’s what could happen if the second tunnel dig still went ahead.

Working with the children and seeing their imaginations go to work on the possibilities was wonderful, and I hope the Mayor can take a leaf out of their book and think more creatively about how to use the vast space his tunnel boring machine is creating.