A modern long-term effect of UUMI on its surface environment, London, UK.

The example occurrences of the interfaces between UUMI and its environment, so far, have shown different effects of UUMI and its environment, on one another. These are based on historical decision events and decision making. They are almost irreversible.

The 2014-2019 research, argued that analysis of those historical occurrences can advise future decision making for transport and urban management. The following example therefore shows the affects of the contemporary interfaces of 21st Century deep tube infrastructure on its environment on new build urban infrastructure, in Woolwich, south-east London.

Fig.1, shows a photograph of new-build (2020) high rise development adjacent to the river Thames. Most noteworthy is the large gap between the new buildings in the middle of the photograph. To comprehend why there is such a large gap between the new buildings, and to explain why this would be the case, analysis of the urban environment would be required.


Fig.1: An effect of modern UUMI construction and statutory powers/legislation, on urban redevelopment in Woolwich, south-east London, UK. Source: Nathan Darroch.


Through such analysis, it would be identified that the large spacing of the buildings was due to the presence of new-build UUMI (2012-2015), in the form of two 6.2m diameter tunnels within the sub-soil between the new buildings.

Additionally, that analysis would identify that there is a statutory safeguarding zone around the tunnels, which requires local urban planning  authorities to consult with the owners/builders of the tunnels when proposals for urban development are submitted to them for approval (Crossrail, 2019, p.3).

Those statutory requirements were imposed and are commonly imposed on new build transport infrastructure in the UK to protect the proposed transport infrastructure corridor. Alternatively, the authorising Act for construction of the UUMI, post the 1960s, allowed the acquisition of additional subsoil to protect the presence of the UUMI (Darroch, 2012).


Fig.2: Examples of the interfaces of tube tunnels and their environment and the effects of a protective zone surrounding tunnels where there are different height and depth buildings. Source: Nathan Darroch.


Fig.2, shows the development of the protective annulus on tube UUMI, and its potential effects on urban design. Note how the diameters of the tunnels, and the annulus, have increased over time. Where an urban stakeholder wishes to place foundations within the sub-soil around the tunnel, owned by London Underground, they must first seek legal agreement to do so. This was also a common occurrence in London for sub-surface UUMI from the 1860s to the 1930s (Darroch 2014; Darroch et al., 2020a). 

Due to the complexities of developing new UUMI and interfacing taller, deeper, urban development, it is essential that interfacing urban stakeholders consult with one another at all stages of proposals, planning, construction, and ongoing urban management for the interfaces. Thus, effecting cost and time savings in the design, construction, and operational stages of whole lifecycle urban management.

However, the presence of the tunnels and the annulus can have adverse effects on surface development as shown in Fig.1. Would such an occurrence of rivalness and excludability be acceptable to all urban stakeholders within densifying urban environments? Or should more consideration be made to how urban management can effect more sustainable approaches?

To enable collaboration between interfacing stakeholders, there must first be effective standardised processes for those stakeholders to identify and clarify their presence, property, and protection interfaces. Failure to do so can cause potentially catastrophic damage to urban infrastructure and its stakeholders


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London, UK

©2018 by Nathan Darroch