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Design competition urged for HS2 viaduct

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Planning consultant tells Commons Select Committee design competition would allow ‘world class’ architecture for UK’s longest viaduct for HS2

A parliamentary select committee overseeing the huge £50billion high speed rail link has been urged to launch an international design contest for a new viaduct over the Colne Valley.

Local planning consultant Jerry Unsworth told the HS2 Select Committee that firms from across the world should be invited to draw up proposals for the viaduct which will span the valley in Buckinghamshire and forms part of the first phase of HS2.

Speaking to the Select Committee on behalf of South Bucks District Council, Unsworth said ‘In terms of these issues and the viaduct, we suggest we certainly need to think about its design, how important that design will be, and why we need the best possible outcome, and clearly whether the present assurances are adequate in that regard.’

He added: ‘A simple design competition is what we consider is required in this situation. We think that is a mechanism to respond to the sensitivity of the Colne Valley and would give the best opportunity to enhance the locality.’

At more than two miles long the Colne Valley viaduct would be the longest on the HS2 route as well as the longest in the UK.

The proposed route would cross the valley before entering a tunnel near Chalfont St Peter. Situated on the edge of London and in designated green belt land The Colne Valley is home to a number of Sites of Special Scientific Interest as well as the Grand Union Canal.

Unsworth told the Select Committee that the Council was looking to the future and the recreational use of green belt land and that an ‘intrusive’ viaduct would have a negative impact on the area.

Unsworth said: ‘We believe that if there is to be a viaduct, there is an opportunity here to have something that is actually a credit to the area, that people say, ‘Look, this is a really cracking piece of design,’ and can actually become a tourist attraction perhaps even.”

The minutes of High Speed Rail Committee can be found here.

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Readers' comments (1)

  • Another case where the notion of a bridge as tourist attraction is being punted - but this time there's a good deal more utility, and sense, to it. Even if it's unlikely to be up there with the Millau wonder by Foster & Virlogeux.

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