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What constitutes a boulevard in the 2020s?

 

Image credit: KPF 
 
Back in 2016, Team London Bridge set a vision for the St Thomas Street Boulevard in the London Bridge Plan. This vision has gone on to influence the focus on retail, public realm, cafes and greening initiatives in what is surely one of the most high-profile development sites in Central London.

But what is a Boulevard in London Bridge in the 2020s? The word ‘boulevard’ traditionally has connotations of a classical tree-lined street in 18th Century Paris, but surely takes on a different meaning in the current age.  

An emerging boulevard

The bones of this Boulevard are impressive. A stroll down St Thomas Street now includes sights of the Shard, the new station with its restored arches and wide footway, and some wonderful elements of the health campus including the majestic courtyard, Science Gallery London and the Old Operating Theatre. We’ve even helped create some café culture, with customers of Nero, Bob’s Lobster and The Savanna enjoying the outdoor seating areas.  

Building a boulevard

Emerging opportunities are being created on St Thomas Street through the following developments, which are currently being consulted on:

  1. Four neighbouring sites known as St Thomas Street East have pulled together to present a coordinated design response – or framework - to the street that you can view here.
  2. New City Court, now in the planning process, with a tower surrounded by restored Georgian facades and shops, opening up the west end of the street. 

At Team London Bridge, we are focusing our efforts on the ground floor experience. This is where the developments will be experienced up close, and this is where the attractions will be located that create a new destination; we want this to be a 7-day space.

 
People watching on the Champs Elysee - Paris

From the BID’s perspective, a boulevard will be created by:

  • Reducing traffic. While the Champs-Élysées may be famous for its hectic multi-lane avenues, we’d like St Thomas Street Boulevard to have as few vehicles as possible. New traffic restrictions have kept volumes of traffic down, and we’re encouraging all developers to deliver full-scale consolidation of future deliveries and to prioritise quality public realm, good air and walking. 
  • Abundant greening. In keeping with tradition, we’d love a classical tree-lined street, and we hope this is possible. But the greening opportunities can go further, and these developments offer public spaces, building elevations and upper terraces where an abundance of greenery can climb, drape and grow – with all the biodiversity, health benefits and beauty that comes with it.
  • Shopping, eating and culture. One thing that we always expect from a boulevard is the opportunity for people-watching. Although the experiences and offer might change, ultimately we want to see people engaging with wonderful experiences. We really hope new and significant cultural offers are part of the mix. 
  • Minimal environmental impact. The impact a street has on the environment is a more recent feature of placeshaping to consider. Team London Bridge's aim to be one of the most environmentally resilient business districts in the world. A 21stCentury boulevard can turn this into a selling point: whether it is about how energy is generated, the urban heat island effect, minimising carbon footprint or being air quality positive. 
  • High-quality architecture– buildings and spaces which reveal and renew the wonderful heritage of the area. 

Next steps

If you’d like to know more, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. As a local business, your input is vital. Contact jack@teamlondonbridge.co.uk or reach the developers directly, who are seeking your comments.   

 
- Jack Skillen Placeshaping Director 
 
The latest addition to St Thomas Street has just been revealed. A warm welcome to Flea Vintage Market, opening at the Vinegar Yard on 2nd March. The exciting mix of retail pop-ups and weekly market will open our eyes to the possibilities of the street. After all, what could be more Parisian than a good old-fashioned flea market? Plus ça change!
 


28 February 2019


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