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ReForm faces fight over Rotherhithe bridge job

Rotherhithe bridge
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Sadiq Khan appears to have snubbed ReForm Architects’ speculative but detailed plans for a new Thames crossing after appointing consultant Arcadis to work up designs

The mayor of London also announced that an open procurement process would be held for a Design and Build contractor, saying that existing plans were ‘a number of years old now’ and could be bettered.

Southwark-based ReForm has registered designs for the east London crossing after working speculatively for four years on the project alongside engineers Elliott Wood and Buro Happold.

Liberal Democrat London Assembly member Caroline Pidgeon last week questioned the mayor’s decision to run an open bid process for the Rotherhithe scheme’s design.

She referenced the £200 million Garden Bridge project, abandoned this week in the wake of a report that criticised its procurement and value-for-money.

Pidgeon said: ‘You can have an open design competition as we know from the infamous Garden Bridge but a possible quicker way could be TfL buying and adapting an existing design – that could be cheaper and quicker to deliver. Have you looked at all options?’

Khan retorted: ‘TfL recognises that things move very quickly. There is a design out there which is a number of years old now so one of the reasons TfL is keen to have the procurement process is because there could be innovations around the world that could be lead to something quicker, cheaper and of higher quality.’

The mayor added that Arcadis had been appointed to a key design role on the pedestrian and cyclist crossing, which will link the Isle of Dogs with Canada Water.

‘TfL has appointed Arcadis to develop the designs and ensure the scheme is cost effective – for example what type of bridge it will be,’ said Khan.

’TfL anticipates that a public procurement process for a Design and Build partner will start in the autumn, which will make sure the lessons of previous procurements and Margaret Hodge’s report into the Garden Bridge are followed.’

He said he hoped a consultation on a preferred option could take place in early 2018 before detailed plans were drawn up.

‘I am hoping those who will bid for the design and build contract will have noted that I want it done as soon as possible,’ he added. ‘We are talking about 2020/21 but if someone is able to do it sooner, their application could be considered more favourably than someone’s who is going to take longer.’

ReForm Architects managing director Nik Randall told the AJ the practice had been inspired to continue its work on the Rotherhithe Bridge by growing public support.

‘We are a local SME, based in the same constituency as the southern end of the crossing, but have assembled a world-class team, including internationally renowned bridge engineers Buro Happold, that can begin the process of delivery immediately,’ he said.

‘If our design is adopted by TfL, it will shorten the programme and greatly reduce the risk of the project stalling. How refreshing it would be if partners could work together to deliver this much-needed project in three to four years.’

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Readers' comments (1)

  • Arcadis - the same contractor now appointed by TfL (after re-tendering) to 'deliver' the new Barking Riverside station, and who in turn have appointed Weston Williamson to take over from Moxon Architects, who designed the station, as reported in the AJ's news item today.
    I wonder if Moxon's design, too, is going to be consigned to the bin?

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