New Thames Bridge consultation response

On 4 January 2019, the Richmond Society submitted its response to the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames’s consultation about the possibility of building a new pedestrian and cycle bridge across the River Thames.

Questions 1 and 2 covered the details of who we are.  Our answers to the subsequent questions comprise our response.

3  Do you support the idea of a new pedestrian/cycle bridge across the River Thames in the borough?
Don’t know

4  Do you have a preferred location for a bridge from the five areas shortlisted in the feasibility study?
Bridge 13 (between Radnor Gardens and Ham Lands)

5  Of the five shortlisted locations, the feasibility report identified two potential sites as the most beneficial. Do you have a preference between these two locations?
Yes, bridge 13 (between Radnor Gardens and Ham Lands)

6  What do you think would be the benefits of your preferred location?
Provides Ham residents with easier access to the local facilities and greater transport options available in Twickenham. Strawberry Hill and Twickenham residents would gain easy access to green space at Ham lands. Allows easier access to a wide range of accommodation in Ham for St Mary’s students and staff.

7  Do you have any concerns about the sites and locations?

The capital cost comparisons appear to have been based on a cable tied construction with supports of up to 21m, approach ramps with a 1:20 gradient and a deck width of 4.5m. While this may not be the final design it is apparent that any option would require substantial space and be intrusive into the landscape. Furthermore, we understand that the height requirements of bridges in the tidal stretches may have been underestimated by up to 2m as they are not allowing for navigation during high tides. Based on a 1:20 gradient that adds significant extra length to the approach ramp requirements, most especially if they are also designed to offer a dry route during high tides.

At Richmond Bridge the police have expressed concerns about the risk of a pedestrian and cyclist collision resulting in someone being pitched into the river. This risk must be mitigated for these bridge proposals and open clearance of 3.5m on the over water deck may feel a bit tight for a combined two way flow of pedestrians, pets and cyclists.

With regard to bridges 15 and 13, the consultants appear to have used a narrow interpretation of the width of the protected views from Ham House and Richmond Hill and determined that neither of these bridge options would have an impact. We think this is optimistic and, while designs are yet to be produced and the impact is not known, The Richmond Society could not support any proposal that impinges on protected views. The views from the riverbanks back towards Richmond Hill are also important.

These bridges and their approach routes would need lighting at night. This creates concerns about light spillage into the river and/or into currently dark areas used by nocturnal wildlife (which includes protected species).

The report notes a possible impact of bridge 15 on Hammerton’s Ferry which would represent a loss of heritage and be contrary to the economic benefit aims. The Council should also consider the applicability of views raised during the campaign against developing a boathouse at Orleans Gardens..

8  How often do you think you might use a bridge at your preferred location?
Don’t know

9  Do you think a bridge would help you walk or cycle more?
Don’t know

10  Please tell us about any design elements that should be taken account of:

Designs must not impact on the views from Richmond Hill protected by an Act of Parliament.

Irrespective of any legal issues around permitting cyclists to use the towpath careful consideration should be given to mitigating the environmental impact that will arise from a more intensive use. There are particular issues at Petersham where the path is narrow, underwater at high tide and has retained its undeveloped appearance.

11  Please use the space below to provide any final comments or tell us of any considerations you think the Council would need to examine.
The Richmond Society is a civic amenity group representing over 1,200 residents across an area of benefit extending from the Thames in the west to Chalker’s Corner in the east and including Richmond’s town centre. None of the bridge proposals is physically located in the Society’s area of benefit and our concerns therefore relate principally to the visual impact from Richmond Hill and repercussions for the towpath.