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After four years, Spence and Tecniker's Wear bridge finally gets go-ahead

Spence Associates and Techniker’s Wear Bridge in Sunderland passed a major milestone last night following a key decision to take the scheme through to detailed planning .

Sunderland City Council agreed ‘to move to the next stages’ of the Sunderland Strategic Transport Corridor (SSTC) project - with its centre-piece landmark bridge structure - meaning a planning application for England’s tallest bridge could be submitted before the end of the year.

The move follows years of wrangling over the future of the project - won in competition, ahead of the likes of Frank Gehry, back in 2005.

Last year the link looked to be heading for the sidelines when the council suggested a cheaper, flatbeam alternative. However, following a public consultation showcasing both the schemes, the Spence/Techniker proposals emerged victorious .

The proposed structure - dubbed the Horny Bridge - would rise to 180 metres, higher than the Queen Elizabeth II Bridge in Dartford, the Humber Bridge and both Severn crossing bridges.

Council leader Paul Watson said: ‘The people’s bridge will be a distinctive new symbol for the city, help raise Sunderland’s profile and the potential for greater prosperity and further regeneration along the river corridor, and in the city centre.’

‘It will be a functional landmark for regeneration.’

It is understood a planning application could be submitted by November and, subject to permissions on planning and funding, work could begin in 2012 with completion in 2014.

Techniker director Matthew Wells admitted the progress of the scheme had not quite run to plan, he said: ‘Its trajectory has been a bit odd.’

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