Following my statement to the Planning Inquiry yesterday, I have been trying to figure out what it was that made possible the regeneration of the South Bank of the river in the 1990s and what it would need to enable an equivalent regeneration of the North Bank now. The answer seems to be, as so often, a fortunate combination of people, politics and accident. The decision to put Tate Modern into Giles Gilbert Scott’s power station was partly accident, after the trustees had looked at Billingsgate and other possible locations. The idea originally came from Gavin Stamp who was making a television documentary about the power station. But the idea was then seized upon by Fred Manson, who was the Director of Regeneration at Southwark, and by Nick Serota, who had a vision for the wider public and social responsibilities for Tate Modern.
So, the question is, who are their equivalents in the City Planning Department who could engineer a change in policy for the Custom House and its surrounding area ?
The answer is that there is a new Head of Planning in the City called Gwyn Richards, who previously worked in Westminster and Kensington and Chelsea as a design and conservation officer.
There could surely be a better and more creative solution than the one currently proposed.