An international competition to design a new £40m bridge across the Thames could get underway later this year under plans approved July 7th by Wandsworth Council.
The new pedestrian and cycle crossing would connect the rapidly developing Nine Elms on the South Bank district with the historic Pimlico embankment to the north.
Its exact location is yet to be confirmed but the preferred options are close to the site of the new US Embassy.
The bridge is part of a £2bn infrastructure package transforming Nine Elms into a new Zone One transport hub complete with two new Northern Line tube stops.
Ravi Govindia, leader of Wandsworth Council and co-chair of the Nine Elms Vauxhall Partnership, said:
“This will be a new bridge at the centre of the world’s greatest city so the design standard has to be exceptional. It will be a dream commission for the winning architect but to succeed they will have to meet some very unique challenges and expectations.
“The design will have to inspire and win the hearts of Londoners who are tremendously proud of their river and its heritage. It must work alongside the cutting edge modern architecture of Nine Elms as well as the elegant buildings on the north bank. There will be engineering feats to overcome and the landing points on both sides must integrate sensitively and effectively with their surroundings.
“This bridge has the potential to become a powerful icon for the revival of Nine Elms which will help us bring new life, jobs and homes to this underused part of London. It would also help connect communities north of the river with these new opportunities and create a valuable transport link for our growing city.”
The 480 acre Nine Elms on the South Bank opportunity area is well into the construction phase and on course to create 3,000 affordable homes, around 45,000 jobs and billions in growth.
The area’s other transport upgrades includes two new Tube stops, two riverbus piers, remodelled streets based on cycle friendly Dutch designs and major upgrades to three existing rail stations including the Vauxhall interchange.
The bridge and other transport improvements will be funded from private Nine Elms developments and from growth in local business rates income which is being pumped back into the area.
Once a design is in place Wandsworth Council will explore further funding options which could see the bridge built sooner. This could include sponsorship.
The plan for the design competition comes after a TfL feasibility study confirmed the bridge would cost around £40 million and carry around 9,000 walkers and 9,000 cyclists a day – proving a car free alternative to Vauxhall or Chelsea Bridge.
Plans for the competition will now be finalised and the official launch could take place in winter 2014.
A shortlist would be selected in early 2015 and the winning design announced in spring the same year. A programme of public engagement would run alongside the competition so local communities can help shape the proposals as they develop.
The final designs would need planning approval from Wandsworth and Westminster Councils, and sign off from the Mayor.
The new river crossing is part of a vast network of new public space which runs through the 480acre Nine Elms district. This includes a linear park, public squares, a new Thames riverside path and a whole town centre at Battersea Power Station.