The Thames is an unsung economic powerhouse for the capital, according two new reports.
New research, commissioned by the Port of London Authority , shows that river supports 43,500 jobs and adds £4billion gross added value a year with £244million coming to Tower Hamlets, Newham and Greenwich.
In addition, estimates show house prices are 12.6% higher in riverside districts with buyers prepared to pay up to £126,000 more for a home bordering the Thames.
PLA chief executive Robin Mortimer said: “We knew the Thames was economically important, what’s really new with this research is the first attempt to gauge the less tangible, amenity value of the river – for example how the Thames supports the health of the people using the river and the towpath for sport and recreation.”
Figures in the reports suggest there are 23million river-related tourist visits a year adding £2.4billion in gross value while river activity is valued at £132million, saving the NHS £500,000 a year.
As the centre of gravity of the city moves east, so will much of the pressure on river development with demands – often conflicting – for more river crossings, commuter services and infrastructure – such as wharves protected from housing development and dedicated to freight cargo.
Mr Mortimer said: “[The east] is a massive opportunity. The London Plan sees a million more people in that growth area so that is a million new consumers, a million new potential customers and lots of people wanting goods and services and a lot of homes to be built.
“That requires to look at the river space and ask what’s the way we can maximise its use – making sure you have some industrial sites – we’re currently acquiring two wharves to safeguard their use.
“And it means more piers for passengers and the plan and we’re working closely with TfL to ensure that new developments have river services associated with them, which means new piers.”
More piers are expected to cater for the growth in the Royal Docks but no locations have yet been confirmed.
CBI London director Lucy Haynes said: “London is growing incredibly quickly which is going to put a strain on our infrastructure and we need investments, we need river crossings and we need to exploit the assets that we have and I would include the river in that.
“It’s vital we see a boost in river transport for both passengers and freight to keep the capital moving. The Thames has a key role to play in enabling the city to grow and compete globally.”
The unveiling of the reports, during the Totally Thames festival, also heralds a consultation over the PLA’s vision for the next 20 years which will be published in full in spring.
44.5million tonnes of cargo handled (+3%)
5.5million tonnes of inland waterways freight
9.8million passenger journeys (+22.5%)
83 major sporting events
Tate & Lyle, Silvertown
40 ship visits a year to two jetties.
Each ship carries 42,000 tonnes of sugar - more than 40million 1kg packets of sugar.
Moves 15% of London’s waste by river, taking 100,000 lorries off the road.
A tug can pull four barges carrying 30 containers each saving 240 round-trip lorry movements.
The waste is taken to a plant at Belvedere where it is converted into enough energy to power 100,000 homes