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NLA chair hits out at ‘nimby’ opposition to Nine Elms bridge


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

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.’

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

Details on the consultation events can be found here.

Project team

Bystrup Architecture Design and Engineering
Robin Snell and Partners
ÅF Lighting
David Bonnett Associates


Readers' comments (8)

  • The bridge in unnecessary given that Chelsea Bridge and Vauxhall Bridge are less than a mile apart. there other stretches of the river where bridges are needed much more than this one.
    This is a developer led vanity project to boost the values of all the new, expensive flats being built at Nine Elms, none of which are affordable by local working people.

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  • Mr. Murray, You are a disgrace. Like a spoiled child, you resort to foot stamping and insults. Take a look at that picture. Quite a few under 60s there, wouldn't you say? Or don't you bother to get your facts right.
    This bridge is a vanity project, it is quite unnecessary, and as was raised at a public meeting last night on one of the Battersea Estates, that money would be better be spent on facilities for our young people. Rolling a few bikes and walkers off the Nine Elms Road will not alleviate the congestions caused by HGVs, lorries and rather large cars.

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  • It’s amazing! In the past it was the “rich” that resisted change, whereas now it’s the “poor”? (No disrespect intended. I’m one of the “just managing” designers in the middle)

    There are Nimbies, (do it downstream of Tower Bridge) and NAAs, (Not Anything Anywhere) Yes, it’s a developer lead vanity project, so the Battersea flat people can walk to the Kings Rd in half an hour, but the residents of Churchill Gardens will get a free bridge so they can walk, jog or cycle to Battersea Park, avoiding the lorries and cars that might run them down on Chelsea or Vauxhall Bridge. I’d call that a facility for the local kids and OAPs.

    We need more pedestrian river crossings, breaking down the barriers and opening up the opportunities between the north and south of the river, and if someone is willing to pay for it.........what’s not to like?!

    Churchill Gardens to the Power Station is the best location. And I can’t see the US Embassy wanting a new bridge in their back yard? So get on with it! When it’s built everyone will wonder why it wasn’t done years ago?!

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  • I share David Farmery's views, but wonder whether there might be an unspoken fear among some local residents that the bridge could become a 'rat run' (to put it far too politely) for those who use cycles for serious criminality - and who could well come from beyond the immediate area.

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  • Kieran Timberlake, the architects for the US embassy, envisaged a pedestrian/cycle bridge linking north and south banks in their competition winning design. The precise location is less important tha the principle, though from a traffic point of view the Claverton Street option would be the best. The drearies arguing for a bridge east of Tower Bridge can relax. There is one proposed from Rotherhithe to Canary Wharf. These bridges are not mutually exclusive.

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  • A curse on Peter Murray and all he represents
    Living in Pimlico is like living in a village despite being in the middle of the city. We don't have to battle through crowds, despite having one of the main arterial roads running through. Crime levels are also low.
    I am definitely change opposed when those changes will negatively affect my life and that of my neighbours in Pimlico.
    People like this man have a plan, which is to wear people down. They propose a terrible plan which gets everyone writing to object. Then a less terrible plan, then a less terrible plan and so on which makes people think it is pointless objecting because it is going to happen regardless so each application receives fewer and fewer objections. A war of attrition.
    This will be our challenge. Making sure people object no matter how many stupid plans go ahead.
    I may be elderly and change resistant but I am entitled to be both without apology and without needing to spend my time and energy objecting to plans financed by people out to make money not for love of their city.

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  • This project should go ahead. It makes a lot if sense and would be beneficial for both sides of the Thames. Pimlico would be thriving and nine elms will have an easier connection to Victoria and the whole North bank. Downside is very limited

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  • Churchill Gardens people can jog run or cycle to Battersea Park? What difference is there from running, jogging along Nine Elms, and then into the Park, as against jogging along Grosvenor Embankment, quick hop over Chelsea Bridge and into park? That footbridge really isn't needed.

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