Central London piers earmarked for 'state-of-the-art' redevelopment under TfL plans

Festival Pier on the South Bank (TfL)
Festival Pier on the South Bank (TfL)

Two central London piers could be transformed into “destination” tourist attractions under plans being explored by TfL.

Festival Pier by the South Bank Centre and Greenwich Pier near the Cutty Sark have been earmarked for potential transformation, with officials hoping the “dated” piers could be turned into money-makers while still serving boats.

Currently, both passenger piers operate at a net cost to TfL, according to a briefing paper seen by the Standard.

Under the proposals, private companies would enter into a partnership with TfL to redevelop the piers, turning under-used pontoon space into retail or themed experiences.

The idea is partly inspired by Hamburg’s Landungsbrücken, a tourist attraction on the River Elbe with a floating promenade featuring gift shops and restaurants.

The paper states: “Some of our piers are in need of modernisation and we want to reimagine these spaces with private investment to be state-of-the-art passenger spaces, with interesting new brand partnerships.

“We are looking to enhance the long-term future of our piers, maximise capacity and investigate ways to generate revenue to reinvest into our transport network, including river services.”

Hamburg’s famous riverside, which is inspiring TfL’s piers concept (Pexels / Niklas Jeromin)
Hamburg’s famous riverside, which is inspiring TfL’s piers concept (Pexels / Niklas Jeromin)

The piers are used by more than 1.2 million passengers a year.

They have been chosen for redevelopment because of their “prominent locations in areas of cultural significance”.

Festival Pier, which featured in the music video for The Clash’s iconic London Calling, serves the Southbank Centre arts complex, while the Greenwich stop is immediately adjacent to the Cutty Sark.

The paper adds “consideration” could be given to Greenwich Pier being moved from its current position to make it more stable.

Currently, it is the only TfL pier attached to the river bed using anchors and chains rather than piles because of how close it is to the Greenwich Foot Tunnel.

A TfL spokesperson stressed the plans were in their infancy.

“Both piers have the potential to be used for a variety of additional services, in addition to their existing role in enabling river travel,” said David Panayiotou, TfL's Head of River Services.

“We are keeping an open mind about options for both piers as we carry out initial engagement with businesses to ensure we can maximise the benefits of any potential partnerships.”