One World Design has released images of a proposed new ‘garden walkway’ spanning the Thames between Barnes and Chiswick
The practice is working with local residents on plans for the Thames Promenade, which would transform an unused Victorian rail bridge that links the two neighbourhoods in west London.
Chris Medland, director of One World Design Architects, the practice also behind the Diamond Jubilee Bridge linking Battersea and Fulham, said the project was ‘not like the Garden Bridge’, the controversial Thomas Heatherwick-designed pedestrian bridge proposed for central London, as it was ‘repurposing an existing structure’. ‘It’s a real opportunity to have this green corridor between the two sides of the Thames Path,’ he said.
Barnes Bridge consists of a central two-track railway bridge, a later-attached pedestrian and cycle crossing to the east, and a separate disused railway bridge to the west which shares the river piers.
The scheme, which is yet to be costed, proposes turning the disused Grade II-listed railway crossing, designed by the notable 19th-century civil engineer Joseph Locke, into a walkway designed to attract wildlife and promote biodiversity. It is suggested the current pedestrian and cycle crossing could become a dedicated cycle route if the new pathway was built.
One World Design’s vision for the new walkway includes planting shrubs and trees in areas immediately above river piers for structural reasons and a living wall between the live railway line and new promenade to prevent trespassers.
The existing metal clad upstand to the riverside would be replaced with a glass balustrade to allow for better views, while LEDs in the floor surface, balustrade or lighting bollards could react to movement and change colour as desired. The lighting could illuminate the way ahead as people move across the bridge, and the trail behind fade to a different colour, so at night people would know who was there and which direction they were travelling in.
A yet-to-be established friends group would be responsible for the planting and maintenance of the site under the aegis of Barnes Community Association.
Emma Robinson, Barnes’ town centre manager, who is employed by the BCA, was approached by local resident Peter Banks with the idea for transforming the bridge. She said project supporters – volunteers with expertise in different areas – are in discussion with Network Rail and, once an agreement is in place, they will look to raise funding for a structural survey and feasibility study.
She said they had already ‘secured support’ from the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames and Hounslow councils, and were speaking to other key stakeholders.
Robinson said her position is ‘all about inspiring the future of the retail economy in Barnes’ and that doings things that made the riverside village stand out was ‘a big step in the right direction’. The proposed new river crossing would make Barnes ‘a destination’ for visitors, she added, as well as restoring part of the area’s industrial heritage for the use of residents.