New favourite a nose ahead to be next Thames bridge

London's elected Assembly members have voted to support plans for the Diamond Jubilee Bridge, a new foot and cycleway crossing of the Thames between Battersea and Fulham. The proposed bridge, which already has planning permission from Wandsworth and Hammersmith & Fulham councils and the Mayor's Office, is now a nose ahead as favourite to be the next bridge built across the Thames in London after it emerged that the Garden Bridge is still £56m short of being fully funded.

The Garden Bridge Trust announced in August that the cost of the controversial pedestrian bridge had risen to £185m due to land acquisition and planning costs. Around a third of the bridge's funding is beng met by the Treasury and Transport for London (TfL). The rest is being sought from private donors and fundraisers. Construction of the Thomas Heatherwick designed Garden Bridge was expected to start this summer, but the Trust was still £56m short in August and has now written to Transport Secretary Chris Grayling to ask for government's £15m underwriting of the project to be extended by another year.

The total cost of the Diamond Jubilee Bridge is estimated at £30m, of which around £10m has been secured in developer contributions and Community Infrastructure Levy funds. Barratt London has already installed piles for the bridge's southern abutment as part of the Lombard Wharf development.

Another £20m still has to be found, however. Funding for the Diamond Jubilee Bridge is currently not included in TfL's capital spending plans.

London Assembly member and chair of the Assembly's Transport Committee, Caroline Russell, said: “The Diamond Jubilee Bridge project is a community-led initiative that enjoys huge popular support on both sides of the river and I am delighted to table a motion in support of it. This new link between Battersea and Fulham could encourage more cycling and walking and reduce pressure on cross-river public transport. The Mayor should be supporting this crucial new piece of transport infrastructure and the way to do that is by asking TfL to deliver it.”

The London Mayor Sadiq Khan has stated his support for walking and cycling and pedestrian crossings of the Thames for promoting connectivity and supporting housing development, but Khan is not due to publish his business plan for TfL until December this year, at a time when the Mayor is trying to find ways of closing an £8bn funding gap.

The Assembly has called on the Mayor to ask for government funding for the Diamond Jubilee bridge which has a good chance of being granted if a TfL audit of the project's economic case is approved. The Chief Secretary to the Treasury Greg Hands is MP for Chelsea & Fulham. Jane Ellison, MP for Battersea, is also a Secretary to the Treasury.

The Diamond Jubilee Bridge has been designed by architect One-World Design and structural engineer Expedition Engineering.

One-World Design director Chris Medland said: "These next couple of months are crucial for the Diamond Jubilee Bridge. We expect TfL to be appointed as delivery agent, which will boost its chances of attracting private sector or business-sponsor funding, possibly from Europe.

"This is a desperately needed piece of infrastructure, which may get government support in the Autumn Statement and possibly funding from the private sector. The bridge is strongly supported by the Green Party. It could present a prime opportunity for a company such as Volkswagen to position itself with a positive message for the environment. The bridge's chances are heading in the right direction."