Category Archives: Girl on the Tube


Girl on The Tube Returns


This years Girl on the Tube starts on the River, the Limehouse Cut to be exact.

The Limehouse cut is a part of my local area I haven’t really explored until recently, mostly because it wasn’t very inviting. But my interest has peaked recently since seeing paddle boarders and canoers enjoying the waterway, as well as unusual bird species.

The Limehouse Cut is one of London’s oldest waterways dating back to 1766 according to the Canal and River Trust. It was created to save barges having to wait for the tide before navigating the long southward loop of the Thames around the Isle of Dogs.

The Canal and River Trust itself acknowledges that this section of river has previously attracted an unsavoury reputation. However, the Cut’s fortunes have changed since it was adopted by 19 local organisations led by Poplar Harca in September 2016.

Now seems like the perfect time to explore the Canal a bit more.

There’s so much to absorb along the river including…

…New green spaces

Three Mills Green is the first completed part of the Lea River Park which will see new open spaces including Twelvetrees Park, situated around seven Victorian gas holders, and Poplar River Park.

…Major Infrastructure Works

Opposite the Three Mills Park, the Pudding Mill Lane to Stepney Green Crossrail tunnel is being constructed.

…Historic Conservation

The Three Mills has been in existence since the Saxon times. The historic buildings form part of the Three Mills recording studios.

…Historic Regeneration in progress

In the distance, you can just make out Robin Hood Gardens.

This building  has had  a controversial history as attempts to save the building from demolition were made by the 20th century society.

“The Smithsons were the first architects of twentieth century Britain to make a hugely significant contribution to world architectural discourse, and Robin Hood Gardens is an outstanding example of post-war British architecture”,

Robin Hood Gardens is included in the Blackwall Reach development which was approved in 2012, and two attempts to save the building from demolition by world renowned architects were rejected, most recently in 2015. Demolition started in August 2017.

Part of the building is currently on display  at the V&A’s Venice Architecture Biennale.

…Retention & Repurposing of warehouses 

There are a few pockets of industrial pieces of land still to be seen on the riverside as the majority of the buildings move into residential use. Some have cleverly retained the warehouse facades as part of redevelopment.

…New Development

Such as this new block of apartments going up by Fairview Homes.

Whilst there is a lot of change going on, I think the local wildlife are enjoying the cleaned up waterway.

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Girl on the Tube (May-June’17 part 5)


Urbanissta - Girl on the Tube

13th June 2017-

We’ve had a busy few weeks here at Urbanissta-planning application preparation and submissions, team meetings, due diligence work and networking.

Today was no different as we started the morning in Stratford and ended in Old Street.

tube map


All Saints to Stratford

The journey from home to Stratford takes less than half an hour, and I love the view as the train pulls into Stratford as you see the stadium to the far left and the aquatics centre. Its also lovely taking in the view of the allotments on the right of the tracks and the parkland on the left.

I keep meaning to get up the Acellor Mittal, but something is stopping me!

Stratford Station


Stratford  has become a destination in London in itself with work leisure and housing opportunities within close proximity to the city and its regeneration continues five years after the Olympics.

I have spent quite a bit of time around the Olympic park watching the hockey over the past few weeks. I’ve also come here to watch my team play at the London Stadium. Whilst some critics view the stadium as the most unsustainable asset of the Olympics, it has become a well used round year location. The swimming pool, velo park, copper box and hockey tennis centre are also open to the public.

Green infrastructure connects all of these landmark sporting venues with the retail opportunities at Westfield through a structured landscape setting and opened up connections to the River Lea.

From the park, views of the city creep up.

view from the olympic Park

One main aspect of the Olympic village is the housing, and this was opened up shortly after the close of the games. The development continues apace at both the east village and out towards…

Pudding Mill Lane and Bow


Stratford to Old Street

Onto meeting number 2, and onto “ tech city”.  Getting out of Old Street station we never know which exit to take. I have since learnt that using the silicon roundabout as a guide, we want to face away from the Brezier apartments ( which was nominated in  the  Carbuncle Cup in for looking like someone’s posterior) and face towards the expanding hub around the Atla which is being marketed as the tallest building in tech city.

Stratford to Old Street


The 40 storey residential tower and 9 storey office building sits in a prominent location on the axis of Shoreditch, Islington, Farringdon and the City. It is in contrast to the red brick Moorfields Eye Hopsital in the foreground, but somehow it works.

Farringdon & Moorfields Eye Hospital

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Girl on the Tube (April’17 part 4)


Girl on the Tube - Canary Wharf


17th April-22nd April

Since becoming interested in photography I have become interested in Open City who run Open House Events. Today, I went on their architecture on the Thames river cruise. Despite the sunshine I was not prepared for the cold wind but still had a good afternoon giving my trainers a rest.

Nine Elms

Starting at Royal Festival Hall, we went west towards Nine Elms and Chelsea, and back east. We slowed down at Battersea Power Station to take a look. Each chimney has been taken down brick by brick and replaced as required by English Heritage (sorry, Historic England).
The extension of the Bakerloo line to Nine Elms will enable this historic landscape to become part of the 21st Century city.




Moving down past the MI5 headquarters, there is prime development spots in the form of 80s office blocks. I have noticed these from the railway line behind and have long wondered when they’ll be knocked down to make way for modern development taking shape along the river in Lambeth and Vauxhall.




Moving back into the city, redevelopment of the Shell centre is taking form. The city skyline is going to change dramatically here, but perhaps not as significantly as No1 Blackfriars, still nowhere akin to a Vase.



Away from the main centre of London and on the south of the River, the Thames Tideway Tunnel ( super sewer) is taking shape. It is a key piece of infrastructure required to meet the needs of a growing city and to protect the Thames itself. Those keen swimmers must be looking forward to one day being able to swim in the River.
Interestingly when the original sewer system was developed in the 1850s and the city had 2 million inhabitants, Bazalgette developed the sewage system for London on the basis of 4 million people. Would he ever have imagined the city to be home to almost 10 million people?

Tower Bridge

There is a new glass building taking shape adjacent to Tower of London. Landmark Place as I understand it is called, is designed with glass which even wraps around the corners so there is uninterrupted views of the River. The site is made up of 165 one, two and three-bedroom apartments or penthouses. Those lucky future occupiers will be at the heart of future London.

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Girl on the Tube (April ’17 part3)


Girl on the Tube - Canary Wharf


I came across some old photos of London over the Easter Weekend so I wanted to recreate them to be able to see how much London really had changed. So I got on the D6 bus and went for a wander over to the Isle of Dogs and what I found did not disappoint. As I got off the bus, I was surprised to see this lone rectangular building standing tall. This is a sign of things to come.

10th April-16th April


The first old photo I found was of the Gun in the 1960s which is a popular place for the workers at Canary Wharf. It’s a Grade 2 listed building built in the 1800s, and according to some. Lord Nelson’s ghost haunts the pub.

In recreating this photo, the main difference is the cars. You can just see the yellow crane sticking out the back which is the Millennium Dome, I don’t even remember a time when the Dome wasn’t there.




Walking further down Manchester Road, I managed to find the spot in which the Queen’s Coronation party took place in 1953. Having my grandmother in this photo, I felt a close connection to this spot and how much change has taken place over 60 years. I felt a pang of nostalgia.

The houses on the right covered in the bunting still exist as does some of the wall on the left. Not much else remains as the pub on the far right is now a shop and the building on the far left is replaced with a row of houses.  Whilst the changes here are subtle, the overlooking Dollar Bay skyscraper overshadows the remains of the 19th century buildings.

South Quay

I carried on walking along Marsh Wall to recreate the photo from 2002 when Heron Quays was being rebuilt. It’s quite difficult to explain what has happened because Canary Wharf is shadowed by the so many new buildings of a range of shape and sizes. The only similarity here are the red cranes.



I remember when there was just one tower on the skyline in the 90s.


I continued walking up to west ferry circus, trying to absorb the height of the modernist glass covered buildings and what has happened, it has become a place I don’t really recognise anymore.








The traffic light roundabout has been replaced with one tree.

Looking to my left over the River Thames I catch a glimpse of the city skyline. I think I’ve just experienced the city changing over 60 years in front of my eyes.




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Girl on the Tube (April ’17 part2)


Girl on the Tube


with the clocks changing and it still being light when I leave the office, I opted to walk home from Kings Cross along the Regents Canal.  I know what you’re all thinking- crazy! I’ll be needing some new trainers in no time.

But with my Three Peaks Challenge set for September I need to prepare myself mentally and physically. Walking along the Regents Canal also gave me an opportunity to get out the camera and really look at the buildings and the changing canal landscape. I was interested to see the mixture of old and new, and lots of activity.

27th March – 4th April

Regents Canal map

Kings Cross

Starting at Granary Square, I could see the work taking shape to fit out the gasholders.


There is quite a mixture of design styles along the canal as a modernist building sits next to a row of Victorian houses, probably warehouses once upon a time.  But it doesn’t look out of context in the way that some developments in a village setting may look out of context. I guess the water setting provides much more flexibility, although slightly constrained by the site size.


Talking of water constraining development, I was amused to see a relatively new building covered in grass-making up for not being able to have a front garden I guess.

You can tell what’s new and what’s old. The new developments sit up tall and thin covered in glass and render compared to the older smaller brick buildings. I think I prefer the old to new in this canal setting, as it reflects the historic role of the canal.


I knew I was entering the Shoreditch section of the Regents Canal as there were bustling pubs and loud music. The Shoreditch sign on the wall was also a good clue!

There is a lot of redevelopment activity taking place in Shoreditch and Hackney, again one to keep an eye out for.

Mile End

And then as I finish my walk around Mile End, I’m reminded I’m back in the city.  I can’t help but stop and reflect on the development at Canary Wharf in the distance and the pace at which change has occurred over my lifetime.


The views expressed below are my own and do not reflect the views of Urbanissta

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Girl on the Tube (April ’17)


Girl on the Tube

I’m the girl on the Tube, no stranger to the fast-paced life of London and I take the underground every day to and from work.

I rise up from the tunnels of bustling business people and enthusiastic tourists and step out into the streets of London. Sensibly putting comfort and practically before fashion, wearing my well-worn trainers instead of 6-inch stilettos.

When I travel to and from the office I study, not books but buildings and developments. Noting changes in the landscape, taking photographs and retaining the memory of a derelict building and enjoying the aspects of a new structure put in its place.

I keep a diary, and for those of you with an interest in planning, developing and architecture – I hope you find my notes and photographs useful and my knowledge insightful.

March 24th– March 27th 2017

On my travels this week I’ve taken the tube to Borough, Waterloo and Aldgate with the hope of seeing interesting developments each time I surfaced from the different underground stations.

Borough via Limehouse


Borough via Limehouse

I was on an RTPI Course today about Local Plans, based just up from Borough Tube Station (Planners among us know exactly which building I mean).

My journey took me on the DLR and I noted a half deconstructed building with the crane in the basement. This is a development that I’m going to keep an eye on because I’m curious as to whether the building will become something more like the one on the right, or if it will become more of a glass clad office block. Give it six months and potentially I will be waving at a handsome man sitting in his office chair, maybe a designer or solicitor?

Borough development

London is a city that intrigues me.  I watch the people, admire the architecture and sometimes cringe at the new developments. I try to capture growth and impressive transformations. Sometimes the changes are profound, especially if I have been away from the big city for a while.

When I eventually got to Borough, I saw a residential development taking shape right opposite the London Underground station.  It looks to be well on the way as the building itself is complete.  It will be a mixture of 1, 2 & 3 bedroom apartments and penthouses.

Borough Underground station development

Every day, my trusty trainers and I rest my legs whilst we travel through the streets of London on the bus.  It allows me to get another perspective of the buildings and to appreciate how we desperately need more housing.


I was on my way to the National Theatre on Sunday and when I came out of the Waterloo mainline station and walked towards the London Eye, I was surprised to see that the footbridge was closed. The previous brutalist style office block was completely gone and replaced with a mixture of half completed blocks, cranes, diggers and men in high vis jackets.

I since discovered that the Shell Centre is being redeveloped into a mixed use residential office and retail scheme with 790 new homes. With the power of Google you can see that between July and now, four new blocks have gone up!

Having taken a few photos, I also noticed a block taking shape in the distance. I need to look into what that one is going to be. Interestingly, I found out that it is actually nicknamed the vase! I always wonder who comes up with these names.

Waterloo development

Waterloo development


I was on my way home from an appointment in Whitechapel on Friday and it was such a lovely sunny day I decided to take the bus. As a Planner, the bus provides me much more intrigue than a dark tunnel!  After getting slightly lost in the back streets of Whitechapel I found my bus stop on the Commercial Road. Aldgate is definitely a changing landscape, having driven past an empty building site for a number of years, the rate at which these blocks are going up surprises me.


Aldgate development

It makes me think of Manhattan with the style of the buildings, the materials and the windows. Although in Manhattan you don’t get a good old east end pub a few metres away!

Until next time…

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