Architects suggest Thames Barrier bridge for Charlton riverside

Thames Barrier Bridge
The Thames Barrier Bridge could be positioned either side of the barrier

A firm of architects has unveiled a proposal to build a cycling and pedestrian bridge next to the Thames Barrier, with lifting spans to allow shipping to pass through.

Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands’ suggestion of a Thames Barrier Bridge would connect the Charlton Riverside with the Royal Docks, two areas undergoing huge redevelopment schemes. It would put many Charlton residents within walking distance of the Docklands Light Railway and, slightly further away, the Crossrail station at Custom House.

The proposal, worked up alongside Beckett Rankine, a marine engineering company, was unveiled this morning at the press launch of the Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy on Piccadilly, Architects Journal reports.

It would feature four lifting sections with each 61m span capable of being individually opened or closed to allow river traffic to pass.  It is anticipated the bridge would have to open and close 10 times a day.

A proposal was submitted to Transport for London in late 2017 and both practices are currently engaged in “exploratory conversations” with a number of “relevant stakeholders”, according to Architects Journal .

The bridge could sit either side of the barrier “so impact on the flow of the river would be minimised”, the firms said. A bridge just west of the barrier, could affect the plans for 500 homes at what the developer Komoto is calling Flint Glass Wharf on the old Johnsen and Jorgensen factory site, but would lead directly to Thames Barrier Park on the other side of the river. Designs showing a bridge on the west side show it landing at the Thames Barrier control buildings on the south side and slotting into housing developments on the north side.

Thames Barrier Bridge from above
The bridge would have to open and close 10 times per day

Alex Lifschutz, founding director of Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands, told Architects Journal: “There is really only one location in east London for a relatively low bridge suitable for cycles and pedestrians.

“Construction would take about 18 months and phasing would mean that at least two of the barrier openings are always open for navigation, so no river traffic would be stopped. And because the majority of the construction can be done from the river, it will minimise disturbance to residents.”

While both Charlton Riverside and the Royal Docks are both designated regeneration areas, there have been no official plans made to link the two – despite the claims made for the Silvertown road crossing a mile west. Greenwich Council’s Charlton Riverside masterplan contains no plans for linking the area with its docklands counterpart.

Three years ago, another architecture practice, Farrells, suggested a series of six low-level crossings of the Thames, with designs showing one linking Anchor & Hope Lane with what would now be the Royal Wharf development on the north side of the Thames.

Four major development schemes for the Charlton riverside are on the cards, with plans to eventually build 7,500 homes in total – a figure which will likely increase. After years of delay, the Royal Docks has already seen development alongside the Docklands Light Railway, with the giant Silvertown Quays development yet to come.


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