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Nine Elms bridge plans re-emerge – but exact location remains a mystery

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Wandsworth Council has dusted off plans to build a controversial footbridge across the Thames between Nine Elms and Pimlico in London, but insists no site has been confirmed for the crossing

The authority has appointed a team led by Danish architecture and engineering practice Bystrup and Robin Snell Architects, which landed the job following a global competition in 2015, to take the scheme forward and test ’different location options’ for the £40 million bridge.

The team’s original proposal for a 920m-long pedestrian and cycle bridge sparked a backlash from both design experts and local residents, particularly those north of the Thames in Westminster who were concerned about its landing site in Pimlico Gardens.

As well as a petition against the competition and a ’wide-ranging community campaign’, Labour and Conservative councillors on Westminster Council voiced cross-party opposition to the crossing.

Shortly after being elected London mayor, Sadiq Khan insisted that the project, also backed by Transport for London (TfL), should not go ahead without ‘support from all’.

As part of the design team’s ‘programme of exploratory works’ the architects will look at a number of different location options identified in TfL’s earlier appraisal study.

It is understood the preferred option is still for the bridge to land close to the site of the Kieran Timberlake’s new US Embassy within the huge Nine Elms regeneration project on the south bank.

Lead designer Erik Bystrup said: ’Our design concept is based on an elegant bridge that provides simple and uninhibited access for all, with minimal impact on each bank. This will be one of the very first shared pedestrian and cycle bridges over the Thames, adding to the rich history of London’s river crossings.’

Around £26 million in private funding, raised through contributions from the Nine Elms developments, has already been secured towards the cost of the bridge.

According to a TfL feasibility study, the project  would pay for ‘itself twice over in terms of reduced journey times and other benefits’.

Councillor Ravi Govindia, leader of Wandsworth Council, said: ‘A new bridge linking Nine Elms and Pimlico has been talked about for many years and we only have to look at a map to see why. This is the longest stretch of riverbank in central London without a crossing point and as our city’s growth continues we must provide the new transport infrastructure to meet rising demand.’

‘This is the longest stretch of riverbank in central London without a crossing point’

He added: ‘The regeneration of Nine Elms will provide £26 million in private funding for this scheme, and London’s very serious pollution problem demands that we develop clean and sustainable infrastructure wherever its business case is proved. As a city, we have to show that London is open for business and we have to take every opportunity to encourage the shift towards zero-emission forms of transport.

‘This bridge delivers on both and would be a stunning new addition to the river.’

The original design competition was organised by Colander and launched in December 2014.

Project team in full

- Bystrup Architecture Design and Engineering
- Robin Snell and Partners
- AECOM
- COWI
- ÅF Lighting
- David Bonnett Associates
- DP9

 

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Readers' comments (1)

  • As an original "North" Londoner who became for years a "South" Londoner back as a "North" Londoner having based my practice in Pimlico over 30 years I don't understand the objections for a pedestrian/cycle bridge linking the very extensive new development of what was the dismal Nine Elms area which includes massive increase in the residential population and the new American Embassy. The advantages to for Nine Elms are obvious. The alternative is a long walk or cycle ride via the heavy traffic at the Vauxhall Roundabout and the dangerous Vauxhall Bridge. to get access to the North Bank - Westminster, vibrant Pimlico and the "West End". The numerous restaurants and varied service businesses in vibrant Pimlico will benefit. As it will be a pedestrian and cycle bridge there is no additional pressure of the road network so the effect on residents will not be negative. The opposition to this project is a good example of why our country is meandering reluctantly into the future except grasping the opportunities of change. Owen Luder CBE PPRIBA

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