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The future for Hammersmith Bridge?

A firm of architect has put forward a multi-million pound plan to reopen Hammersmith Bridge to traffic – by building attached structures beside the main span, for bikes and people.

Hammersmith Bridge has been closed to traffic since 2018, sparking the closure of local firms and even more congestion in already overloaded streets nearby.

Residents, delivery vehicles and buses have been forced to take another route.

The London-based team, combining previously RIBA Stirling Prize shortlisted Baynes and Mitchell Architects and structural engineering firm MHA Consulting Engineers, has sent its scheme to The Hammersmith Bridge Task Force.

A new structure could be interwoven with the old, providing support for a new roadway suitable for modern day traffic, hardly  touching the Grade 11* listed Victorian bridge.

It would be formed of two new cycle highways on either side of the old bridge starting and ending on the towpaths along the river. The team’s approach removes the need for expensive strengthening works to be undertaken on the old structure.

Director Peter Baynes, of Baynes and Mitchell Architects, said: “The loss of Hammersmith Bridge as a fully-functioning route across the Thames is sad and we have been studying the challenges of restoring it for some time, wondering what I could do to break the stalemate.

“You can continue to repair and strengthen the old bridge, or you can replace it with a new one.

“But what if the answer is something more innovative – weaving new and old structures together to make a river crossing for the future?

We are very proud of our concept which now goes way beyond a conversation starter.”

Michael Hadi, director of MHA Consulting Engineers, said: “Hammersmith Bridge’s time is now.

“We are very excited about engaging with residents, businesses, and schools on both sides of the river and to be involved in the discussion to assure the long-term future of this much-loved piece of London’s heritage.

Our team’s solution offers the best value and fastest approach to reopening the bridge. It is legible as a modern intervention offering a gentle helping hand to the retained 19th-century fabric.”

Funding for the bridge has yet to be agreed. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has put forward a cost-sharing deal for his department to pay a third of the cost of getting the bridge reopened – but he expects Hammersmith and Fulham council and Transport for London to pay a third each as well.

But Steve Cowan, Labour leader of the council, described the offer as “party political game-playing” and indicated he was not prepared to foot the council’s share of the bill if it meant hefty council tax rises for residents.

Mr Shapps believes the 134-year-old cast iron bridge can be restored for about £90m. TfL and council estimates are more like £140m.

The bridge was closed to traffic in April 2019, and to walkers and cyclists in August last year, forcing people to take a long detour via Barnes, Chiswick or Putney bridges.

 

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