74 teams from around the world have entered a design competition for a new bridge between Nine Elms and Pimlico, reports the London Evening Standard. However, unlike the controversial bike-free Garden Bridge, the winning design will not only be attractive, but will also have to accommodate cyclists.
Leader of Wandsworth Council and jury panel member, Ravi Govindia, said that the bridge had to be both ‘a beautiful piece of architecture and a valuable new transport link’ and it seems cycling will be an integral part of the design.
“There are considerable challenges and engineering feats to overcome. The design must work alongside the cutting edge architecture emerging on the south bank as well as the elegant frontages on the north. The landing points on both sides must integrate sensitively with their surroundings and provide a smooth and safe experience for the pedestrians and cyclists who use it.”
Govindia describes the bridge as being ‘a badly needed and valuable piece of infrastructure’ and is quick to emphasise that much of the funding is already in place. The bridge would cost £40m, £26m of which has already been earmarked from community infrastructure contributions for Nine Elms. The rest, he says, could be covered by sponsorship.
Again, this offers a marked contrast with the Garden Bridge, which will cost £175m, including £60m of public funding. The Garden Bridge will also exclude cyclists, be closed at night and groups of eight or more will need to contact the Trust in advance - the Garden Trust say eight was merely a starting point for the purposes of their planning application and the final figure has yet to be decided.
The submitted Nine Elms bridge designs are currently undergoing technical assessment and then next month a panel will decide on a shortlist of up to four. The final stage for the winning design would be to get through the planning process. However, that final step may not prove to be straightforward with both Labour and Conservative Councillors on Westminster Council having already expressed their opposition.
Councillor Heather Acton, Cabinet Member for Sustainability and Parking, recently wrote to residents saying:
“Westminster City Council does not support the proposal and our officers have, and continue to express strongly the Council’s opposition to the proposed bridge, on the grounds of its visual and environmental impact including the impact that a new bridge would have at a landing site in Westminster, on traffic flows, pedestrian movement and on residential amenity.”
A Transport for London (TfL) feasibility study concluded that there was a high potential demand for the bridge, citing the relatively large distance between existing bridges in this location combined with new demand generated by the development of the local area. However, it also said that achieving ramps on both banks was likely to be difficult due to the necessary height of the bridge.
The 74 entries to the Nine Elms competition have gone on public display and can be viewed online here. They are being displayed anonymously to ensure that new talent can compete on a level playing field.