Gulf magnates look to develop Dubai-on-Thames
Having lived along the Thames, I can't say I see this as a very good idea. It doesn't seem very 'English' to me, but I suppose that's difficult to define nowadays isn't it?
The islands would include yacht marinas, theatres, an opera house and housing,all connected by a six-mile bridge spanning the estuary.
If it goes ahead the project would be one of the main parts of thegovernment’s long-delayed £9 billion redevelopment of the Thames Gateway,the area along the riverbank from east London to the North Sea.
The bridge and island proposal was originally drawn up by Sir Terry Farrell,architect of the MI6 headquarters in London and designer of the ThamesGateway masterplan.
Dubai construction firms are understood to have joined a consortium ofpotential investors, although they will not consider going any further untilministers have responded to the idea.
“This would be a first for Britain but in Holland and Dubai they’ve been doingit for ages,” said Martin Nielsen, a director of Scott Wilson, theengineering consultancy which has taken up Farrell’s original idea.
The unnamed Middle Eastern developers approached the consortium a year ago.They are understood to have worked with Nakheel, the company controlled byMohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the emirate’s ruler, which developed thepalm islands off Dubai’s coast. Nakheel itself said this weekend it was notinvolved.
“They were really looking for something unusual and they were looking attrying to bring their experience of developing things like The Palm andother reclamation schemes,” said Nielsen. “It’s been Dubai leading thecharge on that.”
Last week Dubai dipped its toe into the Thames when it won approval for a £1.5billion container port at Thurrock, Essex, to be built by DP World, theDubain firm that recently bought the port operation of P&O.
The islands would be between Sheppey in Kent and Southend on the north side ofthe estuary. One would be joined to the end of the 1.3mile pier stretchinginto the sea from the Essex town.
The plans envisage creating large towns on both islands and a marina on thesouth of the main island. This would be the first point of call for yachtstravelling from Europe to London.