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Looking east can give London a new focus

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Martin Pawley has raised two cheers for Canary Wharf as the London location that could counter the threatened pull of the Frankfurt 2000 plan (aj 25.2.99). I would like to extend his discerning judgement that 'a small city with a large financial sector, can be more competitive than a vast city with a financial sector not proportionately larger'.

The London political, cultural, development and social establishment still sits with its 'backside' on Tower Bridge, totally taken with safeguarding the richly endowed areas to the west. That establishment does not want to be drawn into Docklands and East London. Only two sites cause it some difficulty: Greenwich and Canary Wharf. Greenwich is resolved by allocating it to South-east London. Canary Wharf is acknowledged (reluctantly) as the third business district of London with a sub-attachment to the City.

Let me suggest the total counterpoint to Frankfurt: the Millennium Water City, the conceptual 'Eastminster' created by the 'accidental' inclusion of a third outstanding location, the Millennium Dome site sitting between Canary Wharf and the Royal Victoria Dock, separated by the Thames loop. The original promotional picture of the Dome illustrates the most compelling city waterscape that exists in the uk, possibly in Western Europe. The infrastructure needed to reflect this international Water City dimension exists, pointing westwards to Westminster and the City and eastwards down the Thames corridor to Europe. The river's new focal point becomes the Millennium Site . . .

No real evaluation has taken place of the alternative use of the Millennium Site and its magnificent waterside as the centrepiece of our new 'small' water city with Canary Wharf as its companion core.

What should the crowning dimension be of the new Millennium Water City? The transfer of the Houses of Parliament from its private Westminster Club premises to a new people-focused political context? The creation of the new cultural centre for London on its vast Wagnerian stage? Setting our sights more commercially, perhaps the great London Festival Market, bringing together the equivalent of Boston, Baltimore, Darling Harbour . . . or simply the dramatic other half of London's new business and financial district - the new small city that would totally submerge Frankfurt's vision of itself?

Reg Ward

London E1

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