A town of climate
‘Living in the Landscape’ is a bold new framework for a Thamesmead that has been rethought and reimagined, with green infrastructure at its heart. Commissioned from LDA Design by Peabody, it has been designed to create a place of choices, where good things happen and where climate breakdown is taken seriously.
When the GLC built Thamesmead on reclaimed marshes, its plan was for a modernist utopia: innovative concrete design integrated with expansive green spaces, lakes and canals. A 1970s promotional film described ‘environmental conditions unmatched by anything that has existed before’. Early residents still recall what they describe as the best childhood ever, roaming free.
Thamesmead then experienced decades of neglect, but once again it presents the most extraordinary opportunity in London. Peabody, the housing association, has become the town’s largest landowner, intent on reversing decline with a £1bn investment strategy.
Recognition that landscape should lead
Peabody decided against commissioning another masterplan for the town. Instead, they took the bold step to use landscape and green infrastructure to super-charge recovery and to shape placemaking. They invited LDA Design to create the Framework.
Peabody is using Living in the Landscape, the new Framework, to turn the town into a place of choices. The population of Thamesmead will more than double by 2050 and above all else Peabody wants regeneration to be inclusive, enabling the most vulnerable people to make the most of their lives. Well-evidenced health benefits provide a compelling case for investing in better landscape.
A town of climate activists
The sea level is rising in the Thames Estuary and Thamesmead will need new flood defences. The special opportunity here is for people to become climate activists through re-connecting with their transformed waterfront as well as the natural environment. At neighbourhood level, even managing rainfall in new and more playful ways is a route to engagement.
In the 1960s, connectivity meant building highways; now it means active travel and public transport. The streets of Thamesmead will become overpoweringly green, with a rich and diverse cultural offer from the parks to the Tumps.
The legacy of green infrastructure will be mobilised for a speedy transition to climate resilience and carbon-free living, with emerging technologies for energy and water.
The only game in town
Thamesmead was originally designed as a flagship for the environment, and Peabody are using a practical ‘Thamesmead Test’ to guide new development. The Test encourages developers to aim for their own flagship best with somewhere that works for everyone, generates value and provides for the right sort of growth in the right place. The Test will also support communities in advocating to become London’s greenest place to live.
This short read was first published by the Landscape Institute as part of their climate action statement.