Saturday, September 23, 2017
‘Petrol-free’ bridge moves a step closer

‘Petrol-free’ bridge moves a step closer

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Design for a ‘petrol-free’ bridge at Rotherhithe

An architect who designed a petrol-free bridge at Rotherhithe still hopes he will get to help build it.

Nik Randall from Southwark dreamed up the idea in 2013 after talking to a friend who cycled to work at Canary Wharf and could only cross the Thames at Greenwich or Tower Bridge.

Mr Randall travelled along the river, looking at maps, trying to find the best location for a bridge which both pedestrians and cyclists could use.

Little did he know the idea had already been suggested years before by cycling and walking campaigners Sustrans – who devised a very similar idea when London was confirmed in 2006 as the host for the 2012 Olympics.

Sustrains is now co-operating with Mr Randall’s firm, ReForm Architects, based in Union Street, Borough, on the campaign to build the bridge, between Durand’s Wharf on the Rotherhithe side to the West India Dock Impounding Station at Canary Wharf.

The project moved a step closer last month when London Mayor Sadiq Khan appointed Knight Architects and consultants Arcadis to draw up a brief for the scheme.

Some have seen the appointment as a snub to Mr Randall and his design. But Mr Randall believes Knight Architects will draw up a brief, which will then be open to bids from other architects as part of a proper, transparent and public tendering process which Mr Khan will oversee, learning lessons from how the now-scrapped Garden Bridge failed.

Mr Randall said: “We believe Transport for London (TfL) is using other consultants to help them form a brief which will then form part of the tender information for contractors.

“They may also be preparing a design to illustrate that it is possible to build a bridge in this location, which is normal for bridge procurement.

“That doesn’t mean our design has been discarded as we expect TfL to ask contractors to propose their own designs.

“We have a very strong team with a proven design that’s proved extremely popular.”

The Rotherhithe Bridge would link with existing cycle routes and provide an alternative to the Jubilee line for those travelling to Canary Wharf from South London and back. The only other bridge plan for the Thames in London, the Garden Bridge, linking Temple on the north bank to the Coin Street area in the south, folded last month when the trust in charge of the project was wound up.

TfL is currently studying levels of demand, funding options and the viability of the project.

It is also working with the Port of London Authority on the effect of a bridge on shipping travelling up the Thames.

The structure for cyclists and pedestrians – dubbed the Brunel Bridge after Britain’s most famous engineer – would become the 11th public above ground Thames crossing.

And it would link the more rundown area of the peninsula to the Canary Wharf’s massive banking sector buildings. The scheme is being touted as part of the £2billion Canada Water development, a plan for 3,500 homes, shops and a leisure centre which could be built in Rotherhithe over the next 15 years.

The new bridge would bring the DLR, Crossrail, Canary Wharf and Rotherhithe within cycling distance of each other. It would also save cyclists from having to pedal through tunnels or the Woolwich foot tunnel and ferry.

The two councils at either end, Southwark and Tower Hamlets, and their residents, have been asked their views on what it should look like and public consultation will take place this autumn, with more detailed consultation early next year.

Mr Khan also said he is looking at options for third-party funding from companies such as the landowners at either end. Sustrans’ London director Matt Winfield said last year of the bridge: “It would give people the safe, car-free and clean commute they need.”

Chief Reporter | Former news reporter on Daily Mail and Times, former editor in Edinburgh and Barnet. Sports editor and father for 15 years. Once made nine doormats for Harrods entrances. They lasted two years.

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‘Petrol-free’ bridge moves a step closer