Friday, 14 September 2018

A reminder of what we wrote in 2010

Back in 2010, Mark Wing and Richard Woolf teamed up to propose a new pedestrian and twin lane cycle bridge over the River Thames. The location at Radnor Gardens, as the satellite image shows, seemed obvious from a topological point of view. 

This 'big idea' was to grow into a personal exercise resulting in some fabulous open debate and some very interesting personal introductions.

In 2011 we shared the following on this blog;

The opportunity came about because a personal friend of Mark's was engaged as a Councillor in the Richmond-Upon-Thames area, with responsibility for the river and its immediate surrounding areas. So when the Council decided to host a public meeting in July, to give local people the opportunity to shape the future of Twickenham, he encouraged us to share some ideas.

The event was known as the 'Barefoot Consultation' and lasted several days. The aim was to reinvent the process of ideas generation and community consultation and in so doing gathered together individuals and collectives with their initiatives and ideas for the borough (as well as allowing expression to those with concerns over the future of our built environment). The event sought to challenge preconceptions offering a range of possibilities and a platform to communicate them to a wider audience. Although focused on Twickenham, many of the exhibitors such as the River Thames Society had close links to Ham too.

Richard and Mark had been pondering over the crossing for some time and this event in July proved the ideal moment for us to exhibit a proposal that is now slowly gathering momentum.

The Radnor Bridge will provide a single span crossing with clearance height for modern leisure craft and will support the current expansion of cycling as a major alternative means of transport within the capital. The objective is to provide a bridge, which will give both a safe segregated disabled compliant pedestrian route and a two-lane provision for substantial cycle capacity for commuters and leisure cyclists alike. In addition it will enable many families with school age children to gain safe cycle access between the two parts of the borough.

Key reasons why the Radnor Bridge is the right idea for Richmond Borough;

Despite these "tightening our belt" times, The Radnor Bridge will prove its value to both Ham and Twickenham as being far greater than the cost to build it. Richard and Mark are also convinced this is the right location for such a bridge because;

  • It will provide the perfect round walk, offering the densely populated Strawberry Hill area with access to what has been described as "one of the most significant and extensive stretches of riverside historic landscape and public amenity open space of any city in the world" (Kim Wilkie Report, 2005), which happens to be only 50 meters away on the other side of the river.
  • It will serve to open up more of Twickenham to the river, taking emphasis away from the heated debate about the town centre, encouraging greater interest and access to other parts of the town.
  • It will increase use of the much loved Hammerton ferry crossing (accessed from Marble Hill Gardens) not put it out of business, as many have feared a bridge between Twickenham and Ham would do.
  • It will support the 1.3 million people who annually enjoy walking along the river trail, by connecting Ham House to Strawberry Hill House. Boosting local tourism and making this a very pleasant day's excursion.

Mark has lived in Twickenham since 1970 and commented in the press in July;

"…it is hard to believe there has never been a bridge here before. It is the most perfect position to cross the river and will open up both communities".

Richard, an architect based in Richmond, has lived in Ham since 1980. We have worked together on Design Council initiatives and he is also involved in a number of Richmond/Ham developments and therefore has a good understanding of the landscaping strategy for the Ham side of the river. In July Richard was quoted in the press as saying;  

"This particular river crossing will make a natural progression of landscape and urban designs long planned for this part of London, making it a very exciting project and one that must surely be built".

Tuesday, 3 April 2018

Community Infrastructure Levy

Cllr Ben Khosa recently shared with the Radnor Bridge team the following message from David Tidley, who is the Transport Strategy Team Manager serving Richmond and Wandsworth Councils.

"The Council’s Local Plan commits the Council to investigating the possibility of a footbridge across the Thames between Ham and Twickenham.  The Community Infrastructure Levy List includes the possibility of a new bridge, although I would add that the CIL List is a long list of schemes in excess of expected CIL funding and no funding has currently been identified for a bridge.

Consultants are currently engaged to do some high level work comparing potential locations for foot/cycle bridges within Richmond.  In short, their brief is to identify where in Richmond any locations for bridges might stack up in terms of need, demand, cost and deliverability. The Radnor Bridge location is included in this work.

New Thames crossings are few and far between. Even accounting for the lesser width of the river in Richmond compared with other parts of London which could enable the river to be spanned without piling into the riverbed, there would be significant engineering, environmental and cost challenges. New bridges have significant risks associated with them as well as longer term liabilities. The current high level business case work will help identify what these challenges are and would help the Council determine its next steps."

Saturday, 24 March 2018

Does a Richmond College student have the answer?

In an edition of the Twickenham Tribune, which came out this week, we noticed an interesting article about plans to use some of The Heritage Lottery Project to look at outdoor swimming in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames. Local architecture students at Richmond upon Thames College have visited outdoor pool sites in Twickenham and Reading. They have then developed their own creative ideas. And it is fair to say they have come up with some interesting architectural styles. Models and drawings of their final designs will be exhibited at the college this summer and you can check out the college website for further information nearer the time.

Why is this of interest to the Radnor Bridge initiative I hear you ask? Well, one of the students (Cameron Liddy) has proposed a replacement bridge for Eel Pie Island.

Given the recent flooding, which has caused the existing bridge to become inaccessible at times, this would seem like a welcome idea. However, we noticed in the last sentence of the article there was a suggestion the proposed architectural design might also suit the Radnor Bridge location. After a little consideration we would like to respectfully say that in our opinion it unfortunately does not.

The Radnor Bridge idea exists in response to its chosen geographic location. That is; the topology of the land is very well suited to a river crossing that needs to clear sailing masts underneath. Provided access to the Radnor Bridge is granted from a new mini-roundabout to be installed adjacent to the two schools on Cross Deep and opposite Popes Grove, there is no need for dramatic rises in height as the bridge crosses the river. A requirement that the Eel Pie Island position imposes on any bridge design considered for its location.

This is important to us because we want to create a Thames river crossing that will provide easy access for all pedestrians and cyclists. While integrating perfectly with its surrounding transport infrastructure the bridge should also makes crossing the river quick and simple for the largest number of people in the borough… while also adding something special to the landscape in which it sits. To better understand why Radnor Gardens is the desired location for the RadnorBridge, why not revisit our top five pointers on this subject here.

Back to the architectural project being proposed above; If the students and their teacher at Richmond College would like to explore ideas for the Radnor Bridge project then, as a separate project, we would be very happy to share our thoughts on the design brief. It would be interesting to see what they can come up with if considering this as a 'new' project.