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Council hopes sale of naming rights will deliver long-awaited Thames bridge

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Wandsworth Council is to bring in a consultancy to sell naming rights to a proposed £36 million west London bridge following a proposal by the scheme’s architect Chris Medland

The AJ understands the council will shortly hold discussions with BDS Sponsorship over stalled plans by Medland’s practice One World Design to connect Imperial Wharf and Chelsea Harbour.

An application for the Cremorne pedestrian crossing – initially referred to as the Diamond Jubilee Bridge – was approved by both Wandsworth and Hammersmith & Fulham councils in 2013.

A start on site was achieved in 2016 when a housebuilder installed the piles needed for the tied-arch bridge as part of a section 106 agreement for a local development.

But work has not progressed since then because of an £18 million funding gap between its £36 million price tag and the £18 million raised by Wandsworth through the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL).

London mayor Sadiq Khan and Transport for London support the bridge in principle but will not contribute to its cost as they are focusing expenditure on crossings in east London.

But following a meeting in early February between Medland and Wandsworth Council leader Ravi Govindia, the naming rights sale proposal will now be fully explored.

A letter to Medland sent by Govindia on 28 February, and seen by the AJ, said: ‘The council would be supportive of any works to investigate alternative funding options and accept that this could include a branding or naming rights deal as appropriate.

‘Clearly, this should not include certain market sectors such as tobacco, betting or political organisations, and the council would retain the right to veto any proposal that it felt was unsuitable.’

Medland told the AJ: ‘We need to look to find a sponsor by the summer. If we do, we could be walking on the bridge in 2021. If we don’t, it could be a further 10 years.’

If we find a sponsor by the summer we could be walking on the bridge in 2021

It is understood that BDS, which is yet to be formally appointed, is confident in its ability to find an individual or business to contribute the remaining funds in exchange for the right to name the bridge.

One World Design has donated its designs for the crossing to Wandsworth Council and has yet to receive a penny for its work.

‘If there arises a chance to recover our losses then we would be silly not to take that,’ said Medland, ‘but it’s not about money; the aim is to get the bridge built. 

‘We’ve started something that is genuinely needed, has strong local support and has gone through all the right processes in the right ways. It has been done at minimal public expense through developer contributions and now we just need to find a source of private finance.’ 

Medland said the scheme would improve air quality and cut congestion by reducing vehicle journeys.

‘It will help reduce overcrowding at Clapham Junction, encourage more walking and cycling and improve connectivity between existing public transport nodes,’ he added.

Work to promote the opportunity to name the crossing has already started, with the Twitter handle @Diamond_jub’_bridge tweeting to US entrepreneur Elon Musk among others about ‘the unique opportunity to name/build a new pedestrian bridge in London over the Thames’.

Green Party London Assembly member Caroline Russell said: ‘I’m so glad the future of this much-needed bridge is now looking more secure – it already has huge public support and the assembly also wants to see this new crossing built.

‘This breakthrough is fantastic news for the people in Fulham and Battersea who have been waiting years for the bridge to enable them to get across the river on foot or by bike. It’s also great news for the overcrowded riverboat services.

‘Whoever wins the naming rights will be rightly proud to have their name attached to such a useful and people-friendly addition to the list of London’s iconic bridges.’

A Wandsworth Council spokesman said: ’We are supportive of this new river crossing and believe it would be a great boost to the fortunes of the area which is why we have set aside some funding to contribute towards its overall cost, but it is down to others involved in this process to raise the remaining sums needed.’

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Model of proposed bridge

Model of proposed bridge

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