The proposed Diamond Jubilee Bridge could edge a step closer as the TFL cost review into the project is due to be announced in the next few weeks.
The scheme to build a pedestrian and cycle bridge, which would link Battersea with the Imperial Wharf area, was granted planning consent in Wandsworth, Hammersmith and Fulham, and by the GLA, but funding remains a challenge.
The result of the cost review, and the subsequent response from mayor of London Sadiq Khan, should help the project leaders in their search to gain a private sponsor, which has been unsuccessful so far.
“It’s sort of sat there for three years or so in the planning system with consent,” said Chris Medland, the architect from Battersea-based One-World Design, who designed the bridge.
“During that time we’ve been trying our best to get corporate sponsorship probably for something like naming rights, rather than any branding or coloured arches or anything like that.
“It was very much the ambition for it to be privately funded because there’s been so much competition. It’s not got Joanna Lumley out there campaigning so we haven’t been able to garner the kind of PR appeal that a garden bridge has.
“It’s very much the first division rather than the premier league of central London crossings. We’ll keep trying until it’s over.”
The mayor is thought to be keen on the idea of the bridge but the dilemma is that the focus may well be on bridge projects in east London, such as the Rotherhithe Bridge, which are arguably more vital.
The announcement of the cost review should make the situation clearer and, if TFL’s position is favourable for the Diamond Jubilee Bridge project, it may well help in the hunt for a sponsor.
Despite the problems with funding the bridge has received plenty of public support and is backed by Battersea MP Jane Ellison.
As far back as 1924 Battersea South MP Viscount Curzon acknowledged in the House of Commons that a pedestrian bridge was needed in the area and, 92 years later, it seems it is still required.
“I lived at Plantation Wharf and it was very obvious to me that a new bridge was required, between that area of Battersea and the train station at Imperial Wharf, to enable connections to the tube network and to reduce the need to walk all the way up to Clapham Junction to get onto the transport system,” explained Mr Medland.
“With all the bars, restaurants and the exhibition space that was opening up in Imperial Wharf marina area, as well, it would be nice to be able to get over to there.”
The location of the bridge has also led to a number of design challenges for One-World Design, owing to land ownership issues and the nearby heliport.
A three span tied-arch solution was chosen as it works with the height of the navigation channels in the river and keeps the bridge below the height required for the helicopter takeoff and landing zone.
For now, however, the bridge becoming a reality rests on the review and news coming out of City Hall.
“We just have to wait and see if there’s some positive noises to come out in the next six months or so,” said Mr Medland.
“Even if there isn’t I don’t think that’s the end of it. We will keep plugging away at trying to raise more funding for it and eventually a bridge there will be built.”