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Poole's harbour scheme is a bridge too far for Prescott

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Flint & Neill's competition-winning design for the Poole Harbour Bridge has been scrapped after deputy prime minister John Prescott made it a casualty of his roads review.

The £26 million bridge, designed by the engineer with Danish counterpart Ramboll, Danish architect Dissing+Weitling and landscape architect Terence O'Rourke, was a multi-span cable-stayed structure with steel A-frame towers intended to 'tiptoe across the bay'. The 1km bridge design emerged from a high-profile government-backed competition, the entries to which were exhibited at the riba. It was staged by the Highways Agency to relieve the Poole lifting bridge linking 20,000 vehicles a day from the port of Poole and the trunk road network, and, just as importantly, to promote good design for all bridges everywhere.

'You have to raise the question that if the Highways Agency were to run a bridge design competition tomorrow,' said Flint & Neill partner Ian Firth, 'how many would go in for it. This was supposed to put British bridge design on the map.'

Firth said that had the bridge won the all-clear, it would still have been two years away from starting construction as it would have had to go to a public inquiry and through environmental assessment. It may still be salvaged if private funding can be attracted, with work on an environmental statement funded by Poole Borough Council.

Firth added that the firm had spent 'an awful lot more' than the £100,000 it received to work up the design.

Prescott approved plans to widen the M25 in a short section, from eight to 12 lanes, prompting speculation that Terminal 5 at Heathrow airport, designed by Richard Rogers Partnership, will be given the green light after its mammoth public inquiry.

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