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Gateway Bridge may be heading for troubled waters, says Rogers

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Richard Rogers has highlighted potential problems on one of the capital's most important infrastructure projects.

The author of the government's high-profile Urban Task Force report has warned that 'serious constraints' could damage the aesthetics of the Thames Gateway Bridge.

He said there were various problems on the scheme that threatened the concept work being carried out by Marks Barfield Architects, the firm behind the Millennium Wheel.

If the scheme - expected to go to a planning inquiry later this year - gets the go-ahead, a massive bridge will span the Thames Estuary and link the further reaches of east London with north Kent.

But Rogers, who now works part-time in London mayor Ken Livingstone's Architecture and Urbanism Unit and chairs the Thames Gateway cabinet committee, told the AJ he was concerned by the financial backing the scheme was receiving.

He said: 'I am disappointed by the limited cost constraints. There are also other limitations causing problems, such as height restrictions for the flights and shipping limitations.'

However, Rogers insisted that all was not lost on the project. 'There has got to be hope that someone will be able to find an innovative design solution,' he added.

Rogers' comments won guarded support from Maurice Green, a director at the Design Research Unit, which is currently advising Mott Macdonald, one of the scheme's potential engineers.

'These comments do seem to make sense, as we're not entirelysure what is going on at the moment,' Green said.

'Often you hear nothing from the government for some time and then suddenly it is going ahead,' he added.

But the project's Transport for London director, Mike Clarke, dismissed the criticism, insisting that the priority was to get on and build.

'The Thames Gateway Bridge is essential to the regeneration of the Thames Gateway,' Clarke said in a statement. 'The preferred design for the bridge is slender, modern and functional and takes into account findings of the public consultation in 2003.'

by Ed Dorrell

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