Wednesday, 4 June 2014
Improving cycle and pedestrian access across the river Thames
A distance of only 100m of water separates the two communities of Ham and Twickenham within Richmond Borough. Despite this relative closeness, residents in Twickenham find it hard to access the amenity and space of Ham, with its leisure walks, nature reserves, heritage sites, polo grounds and sailing clubs, while those in Ham are disadvantaged with poor access to transport and commercial links.
Over the years there have been several suggestions for a footbridge to finally connect Ham and Twickenham. But the location of the bridge has been hard to agree.
Some have proposed it should connect Ham House with Marble Hill Park. But this means crossing the river at a location that would impact on the historic ferry crossing and the protected view from Richmond Hill. It is also arguably too close to Richmond Bridge and doesn’t actually satisfy the needs of the majority of people who live in the wider borough. Others have proposed the bridge should cross over at one or other end of Eel Pie Island. But both of these suggestions would merely create a concentration of movement in an already busy Twickenham town center where the existing arrangement of roads and residences do not lend themselves to the landing stages of a suitable bridge.
Two residents from both sides of the River Thames, Richard Woolf (an architect) and Mark Wing (a creative strategist) have since established an initiative to convert the community’s ‘need’ for a pedestrian and cycle bridge into a ‘desire’ to see it realised. They believe that Radnor Gardens is the only truly suitable location for the bridge and for this reason have named the initiative “Radnor Bridge”.
At the heart of the Radnor Bridge initiative are two guiding principles;
1. Connecting two communities
Radnor Bridge will connect two communities. One through a formal “garden”, the other a natural “wilderness”, while at the same time create more open and inclusive neighbourhoods. It will link two separated worlds within the same borough and thus stimulate change – break down barriers, facilitate movement, sharing of interests and general goodwill.
2. Working with the landscape
The natural topology of the land on both sides of the River Thames, where Radnor Gardens is located, provides a crossing point and space for effective landing stages for a footbridge that will appear to be timelessly woven into its surroundings. Radnor Bridge will therefore be positioned where it will deliver the most strategic advantage to the wider community, while being sensitive to the existing plant and natural wildlife “as if it had always been there.”
“Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm”
Ralph Waldo Emerson
The enthusiasm for Radnor Bridge therefore responds to this existing land topology in Ham Lands and Radnor Gardens, spanning an optimum point on the river for natural ascent and descent. It will build on the success of the Thames Landscape Strategy over the past decade and the Ham Avenue Restoration Plan, to reinstate the Great River Avenue complimented by a new cycle and pedestrian crossing, which allows it to extend its reach for the first time to Radnor Gardens.
At the moment, Radnor Gardens is a little lost, below the line of sight and on the wrong side of a busy road it is often passed unnoticed. And yet, Radnor Gardens provides the only uninterrupted stretch of the River Thames visible from the high street, with its war memorial and numerous follies, it is a place of local interest on the doorstep of the newly refurbished Strawberry Hill House.
It is the perfect midway point between Richmond Bridge and Teddington Lock. It will also create an easy link between Ham House and Strawberry Hill House, as well as perhaps help to square the circle with both York House and Marble Hill House too.
Many cyclists already travel along Cross Deep and so it is proposed that a mini roundabout be introduced at the junction with Popes Grove to slow traffic around the schools and facilitate easy access for cyclists to head (without interruption) into the garden and across the bridge to The Avenue in Ham Lands.
Mark and Richard have therfore also proposed that the bridge deck be bifurcated, providing two separated levels of transfer across the Thames. The first, higher level, facing up stream will be for pedestrians and will allow for wheel chair access, the lower level facing down stream will be for cyclists. Height above maintained water level (MWL) is anticipated to be no greater than Richmond Bridge, however consultation with local yacht clubs indicates mast heights may establish this datum. It is anticipate a height clearance of 6.0m – 8.0m indicatively.
To summaries, Radnor Bridge will come to symbolise an elegant architectural form, designed to deliver a picturesque solution that roles with the landscape and the tradition of Arcadian Thames. It will be as much landscape as structure and a great legacy for future generations in the borough.
If you would like to know more, share your thoughts and hopefully register an interest to support this initiative, please visit the blogsite ( http://radnorbridge.blogspot.co.uk ) and also feel free to contact Mark by email at RadnorBridge@interrelated.co.uk