The government has pledged £82.5 million towards Techniker and Spence Associates’ long-awaited New Wear Crossing bridge in Sunderland
The welcome cash injection from the Department for Transport (DfT) follows years of delays and wrangling over the future of the project - won in competition, ahead of the likes of Frank Gehry, back in 2005.
Despite winning planning in April 2010, the scheme was put on hold months later after the government froze previously pledged DfT funds as part of its Comprehensive Spending Review.
Backed by Sunderland City Council, the crossing between Castletown on the northern banks of the River Wear to Pallion on the south will be the tallest bridge in England upon completion in autumn 2015. The proposed 180m-tall curving steel towers will be higher than the Queen Elizabeth II Bridge in Dartford, the Humber Bridge and both Severn crossing bridges.
Stephen Spence of Spence Associates, who also designed the Infinity Bridge in Stockton, said: ‘Throughout the project to date, what has been constant is the council’s unwavering support and continued backing for this ambitious project.
‘Both for Sunderland and the whole region, we can now look forward to bringing the vision to reality.
‘From day one, this regeneration project and bridge design reflected the positive, bold and confident intentions for the area. This has been acknowledged over time by the support from both local people and industry, and with this news we should all feel we have contributed in some way to it gaining approval.’
He added: ‘On a personal level it has always been an ambition to put something positive back into the area where I grew up. I now look forward to being part of the team which will deliver this new landmark over the coming years.’
Councillor Paul Watson, leader of Sunderland City Council, said: ‘The investment in a strategic infrastructure scheme will open up regeneration sites along the River Wear and bring forward investment to Sunderland.
‘We see this project as an integral part of Sunderland’s ongoing regeneration, as it can help create thousands of new jobs by improving links between the A19, the city centre and the Port of Sunderland.’
Subject to the outcome of a compulsory purchase orders inquiry, work on tenders and contracts could start in the new year, with on-site and construction works beginning later in 2012.
Techniker and Spence's New Wear Crossing finally bags funding