Detailed designs for the southern entrance to the Silvertown Tunnel have been submitted to planners, with its architects promising it will be a “landmark for the area”.
Work is already under way on the controversial road link between Greenwich Peninsula and the Royal Docks, with tunnelling due to begin on the north bank of the Thames later this year.
The tunnel, which will include a lane for buses and HGVs, is due to open in 2025, and will be tolled along with the Blackwall Tunnel.
A curved two-storey building will welcome drivers into the tunnel on the Greenwich side, ploughing through the site of the old East Greenwich No 2 Gas Holder, which was dismantled in 1985. Its sister structure, the No 1 gas holder, was removed last year amid a public outcry.
With dark brickwork and a green roof, architects dRMM say the lighting “is designed to provide a landmark for the area and to mark the entrance to the tunnel. Its aim is to provide an iconic view from the entrance to the tunnel, and visual interest in the surrounding area. Currently the area around the site has no views of interest, and its main viewing point is from a carpark on the other side of Millennium Way.”
The company’s appointment caused controversy as it has signed an industry pledge to evaluate all its projects on their effects on the environment.
Opponents of the tunnel say it will increase traffic and pollution in the area, and that it is incompatible with London’s climate change commitments. London mayor Sadiq Khan has stuck by the scheme he inherited from Boris Johnson, insisting it is necessary to eliminate persistent congestion at the Blackwall Tunnel.
dRMM has also designed a yellow footbridge to replace the existing structure at Boord Street, which will be removed to create space for the new tunnel’s approach.
The Greenwich portal will also provide a base for staff working on the tunnel, which will be operated by the private consortium Riverlinx as part of the £2 billion deal to build the tunnel.
Newham Council has not yet published details of any application for a building on the Silvertown side of the Thames, but an early design included with the Greenwich documents shows a cylindrical structure between the Silvertown Viaduct and the Docklands Light Railway.
The original 1897 Blackwall Tunnel was built with two elaborate entrance archways to house the superintendent and caretaker of the crossing. The southern building remains in place and is now a Grade II-listed building.
The northern gatehouse, off East India Dock Road in Poplar, was demolished in the late 1950s along with a park, Tunnel Gardens, to allow for road expansion and construction of the second tunnel.
Public comments on the Silvertown Tunnel portal plans are being accepted until 12 August.
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