This year the London Society has run a number of events focussing on the river Thames, including April’s “Are we making enough of the River Thames“, the walking tours of Rotherhithe and Canary Wharf, and the forthcoming “Lost Art of Swimming in the Thames“. Beyond this, one of the most hotly-debated proposals for the river has been the Garden Bridge. Here, Chris Medland talks about the work of architects One World Design in the proposal for a new walking and cycling bridge in Wandsworth – one that will cost a fraction of the Garden Bridge and have much more significant effects.
The Need: In 1924 Viscount Curzon MP acknowledged in the House of Commons that a bridge for pedestrian access situated between Wandsworth Bridge and Battersea Bridge was needed As you will be aware the area around Battersea Railway Bridge, on both sides of the river, has seen a renaissance in recent years. Thousands of new apartments as well as many restaurants and bars and two 5* hotels have been constructed in the area, opening up the riverfront to leisure and thoroughfare. Many more developments are planned and under construction in the immediate vicinity. A new pedestrian and cycle bridge alongside the railway bridge will enable greater integration between the north and south of the river both in terms of transport and economic activity whilst also having a positive impact on the environment and creating an extension to the amenity space and linear park of the Thames Path. During the Diamond Jubilee Celebrations the Queen boarded the Flotilla and set sail from this very location. A new pedestrian and cycle link here at this time will be a fitting legacy for the Diamond Jubilee celebrations, the Queen, and one which makes financial, business, infrastructure and common sense.
Planning Policy, TfL & Local Authority Support: The bridge is supported both by local authority and GLA planning policy. Planning consent has been granted in Wandsworth, Hammersmith & Fulham and by the GLA. The Mayor and TfL announced the diamond jubilee bridge as part of a wider ambition to build several Thames crossings and it was covered widely in the press last December, however TfL’s have made no financial commitment but their positive engagement is of course welcomed. Wandsworth have recently adopted an SPD that will enable the council in future to assign CIL contributions to a bridge and a recent S106 agreement with Barratt London has secured the piling of the bridges foundations on the Battersea side of the river (expected to be complete this July).
Cost & Funding: With an estimated build cost of £26m (plus risk 10%), Wandsworth’s financial appraisal indicates that the scheme has a Benefit/Cost Ratio (BCR) of 2.0:1. This indicates that the scheme would provide high value for money, with a BCR above the TfL pass mark of 1.5:1 and at the level representing high value for money in Department for Transport guidance. It has always been our intention to achieve corporate sponsorship for the full amount in exchange for naming rights and we are still working on this by trying hard to keep the scheme alive to local residents, the press and seeking out any contact opportunities with corporations and potential sponsors wherever possible.
Public Support: Over the past 4 years, during the consultations on the early design, through the design development and planning process the level of public support has been off the chart. Jane Ellison MP received some 480 notes of support during the planning process and the comments to the local authority in favour of the bridge were in the hundreds. Some 2 years after the planning process we are receiving almost daily communications from local residents seeking details of timing and progress.
Political Support: At the outset, with an initial idea, we met with the elected politicians of the area and explained the idea. Since that very first meeting in 2011 we have had the active support of Jane Ellison MP, Richard Tracey AM and Cllr Govindia along with the ward councillors on both sides of the river.
The role of One-world Design Architects: Our intention from day one has been to highlight the need for the bridge and assist in any way we can to facilitate it. We have led a team that includes world class engineers Beckett Rankine and Expedition Engineering through the design process.
One-world Design have no ambitions of being appointed for the next delivery stages. We have been working pro-bono gladly for some 5 years and have been delighted to play our part in getting the project this far and have done simply because we feel strongly that the bridge is needed and to pursue it is the right thing to do. Our view is supported by local planning policy, residents, local businesses, developers, local councillors, MP’s, the local London assembly member, the GLA, TfL, The Mayor of London, Council Leaders and council officers who have all been instrumental in pushing the project to this point.
The Plan for 2016: In short we need to make real progress on 2 fronts, funding and the discharge of planning conditions. If it is clear that construction work will not start by February 2017 then we will submit a new planning application in the summer of 2016. However, there is still a chance that construction could start before 2017 and that is what we are aiming for.
There is an opportunity here for the right corporate sponsor or private benefactor to forever be associated with a much needed and very popular addition to London’s infrastructure. Yes, its great news that Wandsworth are seeking to raise funds through CIL contributions but it is highly likely that this funding source will form part of a funding solution rather than the whole solution.
In short this is an infrastructure project being called for by local people, worked on by local people pro-bono (at no cost to the tax payer), this is a bottom up not top down project. Everyone involved is doing it because it’s the right thing to do and it has been a long time coming.
More information can be found on the following websites: