The developer of a controversial bridge by Michael Hopkins and Partners, planned for the Channel Island of Jersey, has hired professional pollsters to prove there is support for the project.
The £2.5 million bridge, planned for a waterfront site in the capital, St Helier, has split local opinion, with opponents arguing that it is a waste of money.
In a bid to get the local population on board, developer the Waterfront Enterprise Board (WEB) has hired NOP to gauge islanders' true feelings. NOP will present its findings in the next few weeks.
Michael Hopkins and Partners, with engineer Flint & Neil Partnership, won the job, and £20,000, in a competition last December (AJ 19.12.02). Other shortlisted practices included Wilkinson Eyre Architects, Studio Bednarski and FaulknerBrowns. The pedestrian bridge, which has twin inclined arches, would form part of a 250m promenade to link the waterfront and town centre.
It is part of a development masterplanned by Haworth Tomkins, which will include a leisure complex, housing and a hotel.
Director of WEB John Scally said the 'elegant and memorable' bridge would be an icon, helping to add value to the waterfront and attract tourists.
But in a telephone poll held by the Jersey Evening Post this week, 92 per cent opposed the bridge with only 125 out of 1,473 supporting the plans.
Senator Stuart Syvret, one of the project's fiercest opponents, said he objected to £2.5 million being spent on 'pointless luxury' at a time of financial hardship. 'To spend money on a white elephant merely because the architect has a good reputation shows contempt for social need, ' he added. 'The bridge has to be seen in the context of the unmitigated disaster of all the waterfront developments.'
And islander Bernie Manning said the money would be better spent on a neglected park in the centre of St Helier.
However, project architect Mike Taylor denied that the vocal opposition represented most islanders. He blamed resistance on scepticism following the failure of earlier waterfront developments. Taylor said WEB had commissioned the poll 'because they felt it was the way to be truly democratic'. Scally said that if the majority of those polled oppose the project, the plans will be abandoned.