05 September 2016

Salford Meadows Bridge delayed

The Architect's Journal has revealed that a "funding shortfall" has prevented progress on Salford City Council's Salford Meadows footbridge.

The bridge proposal is a design by Tonkin Liu and Arup, which was the winner of a RIBA design competition, back in January 2014.

It's a sinuous steel bridge, curved in plan and supported on legs of silver Emmental (well, actually steel box girders with cylindrical perforations).

When I first mentioned this contest in June 2013, I noted that it had grown out of a feasibility study identifying a possible budget of £1m to £1.8m. I said: "The first question is whether there's sufficient political will, and funding available, to ever build a bridge at this site ... Salford say they are looking for an 'iconic' structure, but it's far from clear whether they have the appetite for an 'iconic' cost."

After the winner was declared, I commented: "There's little in the contest submission to provide confidence that what is depicted can be delivered at a reasonable level of quality, and I think there's absolutely no chance of it being done for the £2m figure that the designer states ... There must be a strong possibility it will also end up as unbuilt".

I understand that after winning the competition, Tonkin Liu were commissioned to develop the design further, but the AJ makes clear that it has not yet been submitted for planning consent, as Salford have yet to secure sufficient funding. Salford's mayor, Paul Dennett, is looking to fund the bridge from Section 106 planning contributions (essentially a tax on nearby developments), along with external infrastructure funding from central government.

The bridge proposal was always somewhat speculative - it would provide very useful access from one of Salford's main roads to the Salford Meadows area, but can only be a luxury in current economic circumstances. It was always clear that the money didn't exist to build it, and that its future was entirely dependent on economic whim.

That's something of a shame not only for Arup and Tonkin Liu, but also for the other 171 competitors who devoted significant time and energy to offering ideas for this bridge scheme.

Further reading:

No comments: