Westminster councillors have said they don’t want a new bridge between Nine Elms and Pimlico, just hours after all 74 entries in the high-profile design contest were revealed
Labour and Conservative councillors on Westminster Council have voiced ‘cross-party opposition’ to the new pedestrian and cycle bridge - a proposal which is being backed by Wandsworth Council south of the Thames.
According to a joint statement, both parties hold ‘strong concerns’ about the crossing’s landing site in their borough and the potentially ‘damaging impact that the proposed bridge would have on Pimlico’s last remaining piece of public open space by the river’.
The new pedestrian and cycle bridge will connect the 200 hectare former Nine Elms industrial area – which is undergoing massive regeneration – with the historic Pimlico embankment to the north.
The anonymous designs for the £40 million pedestrian and cyclist crossing, which is expected to meet the south bank close to Kieran Timberlake’s £650 million US Embassy, went on show earlier this week (23 February).
However the Westminster councillors fear any new structure would have an unwelcome ‘visual and environmental impact’ and could lead to issues with ‘traffic flows and pedestrian movement’ in and around Pimlico.
Paul Dimoldenberg, leader of the Westminster Labour Group said: ‘Councillors in Westminster have been discussing this issue for quite some time and there are quite strong feelings to any bridge proposals here.
‘Wandsworth knew this. The two councils should have agreed a way forward before launching this international competition.
He added: ‘You’ll see that the judging panel includes councillors from Wandsworth and Lambeth – but nobody from Westminster. That should have sounded the alarm bells.
‘There has been a lot of effort been put in by so many architects without any guarantee that anything will come of it at the end of the day. It is a shame and I can understand the architects’ frustrations.’
In response a spokesman for Wandsworth Council said: ‘This competition is about enlisting the world’s best architects and engineers to help us explore every possible option for a new bridge on this stretch of the river. Our aim is to uncover the innovative, design-led solutions which can resolve local issues and deliver a genuinely useful piece of transport infrastructure.
He added: ‘We are at a very early stage and of course the potential impacts and benefits will vary enormously between each of the 74 different design approaches now being considered.’
A winner will be announced in June.