New London Architecture chair Peter Murray has hit out at ‘nimby’ opposition to the controversial Nine Elms Pimlico footbridge after Westminster councillors criticised the project’s latest developments
Wandsworth Council recently unveiled its shortlist of three potential locations for the Thames crossing, which has been designed by Danish practice Bystrup with London-based Robin Snell Architects.
The proposed bridge would connect the Nine Elms regeneration project to Pimlico, but has faced cross-party opposition from borough councillors north of the river in Westminster since it was first mooted in 2013.
This week Westminster Labour councillors Shamim Talukder and Andrea Mann branded the bridge a ‘developer-driven, expensive vanity project’, arguing that all three proposed landing spots would ‘eat into green space’ in Pimlico.
In a joint statement, they said: ‘There is widespread opposition to this bridge among Pimlico residents, and we will continue to fight for those residents and oppose these plans.’
Angela Harvey, a Conservative councillor who has been campaigning against the bridge since its inception, said the bridge would turn Pimlico into a ‘transition area’. She said: ‘All the consultations have shown that 90 per cent of people think its the wrong idea.’
But Murray, chairman of New London Architecture, said the resistance from local politicians was ‘very depressing’ and criticised the ‘change-resistant’ residents who were protesting the crossing.
He said: ‘I have been to a number of previous consultations on this excellent and elegant project. All the protestors seemed to be nimbys over the age of 60. These are just the people who should be getting out on their bikes rather than restricting cycling.’
The former editor of Building Design and RIBA Journal said the borough of Westminster needed councillors with ‘real vision’ rather than ones ‘collapsing at every protest by change-resistant residents’.
He said: ‘One ought to expect better from normally sensible councillors like Paul Dimoldenberg [who has previously spoken out against the plans] than to condemn the bridge because it is “developer driven”.
’There is a real need for a connection at this point in the river and, whether we like it or not, the only way that new infrastructure is delivered these days is with a hefty contribution from the development industry.’
In response to Murray’s comments, Harvey said: ’As every good architect knows it’s about getting the right project in the right place. It’s not nimbyism – this project just doesn’t have support in Westminster. We’re fully supportive of bridges downstream of Tower Bridge.’
The council has now narrowed nine location options down to three in the stretch of river between Vauxhall Bridge and Chelsea Bridge.
The first would connect Pimlico Gardens on the north bank to Bourne Valley Wharf on the south, while the second would create a crossing between Dolphin Square and Prescot Wharf.
A third option further west along the river towards Battersea Power Station would connect Claverton Street to the north of the river to Kirtling Street in the south.
Public exhibitions are set to be held in early November as part of the consultation to find the best location for the project ahead of a final location being recommended to Wandsworth in 2019.
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’.
No bridge, tachbrook market 240617
A spokesperson for the Nine Elms Pimlico Bridge team said: ’There is a growing awareness that this new car-free bridge will connect communities in Pimlico and London to the new 25,000 jobs, leisure attractions, green spaces and Northern Line Stations on the other side of the river.
’A new cycle and pedestrian bridge connecting Nine Elms and Pimlico will provide safe and direct connectivity across the Thames, meeting the needs of a growing London and providing sustainable transport choices in line with the goals of the Mayor’s Transport Strategy.’
Details on the consultation events can be found here.
Bystrup Architecture Design and Engineering
Robin Snell and Partners
David Bonnett Associates