Is it a dream pedestrian connection or an unaffordable extravaganza?
A crossing between Brentford and Kew Gardens is not a new idea. A foot passenger ferry used to run between Ferry Lane on the north bank, and Brentford Gate in Kew Gardens, but this service stopped during the Second World War. Subsequent attempts to revive it have been unsuccessful.
The Thames Landscape Strategy, an important ongoing study and strategic plan for the ‘Arcadian Thames’ between Hampton and Kew, envisages a revival of this crossing either by ferry or bridge. Kew Gardens Landscape Master Plan in 2010 also envisaged an elegant footbridge, possibly a ‘Living Bridge’.
This proposal started life in 2013 as a demonstration project. Acanthus Architects LW were invited by Transport for London to submit a theoretical design for a bridge or similar transport infrastructure project, the subject and location being at our discretion. We chose to develop the footbridge as we have previously been involved in a number of bridge projects, particularly in historic landscapes.
Proposed location (in orange) at foot of Ferry Lane
Several locations were considered, and this site was felt to be the most suitable for the following reasons:
- It sits on one of the longest uninterrupted stretches of the Thames without a crossing
- It would greatly improve recreational walking and cycling options from Brentford on the north bank as currently a busy road has to be negotiated to obtain access to the river with the riverside path being frequently interrupted on the Middlesex bank.
- It would contribute to the regeneration of Brentford Town Centre and increase access to Kew Gardens.
- The crossing points at both Kew and Twickenham Bridges are heavily trafficked, and some distance away.
- The location is well known to the practice, as it is near the office and some of us live nearby.
Having served its purpose as a demonstration project, the idea has been sustained by a growing enthusiasm amongst local people, including Brentford Community Council, to see it happen. Brentford has undergone major changes in the last few years, and will continue to change and develop. So far there have been few benefits for local people in the changes that have occurred – everyone cites increased traffic in the area but there have been few improvements to facilities.
With the upcoming opening up of the Brentford waterfrontage this bridge offers a spectacular addition to Brentford to help drive the regeneration of the town centre by attracting visitors to Kew Gardens who would then spend time in Brentford supporting local trade.
Acanthus LW Architects
There is a Facebook page with more photos or you can join the discussion on the forum.
September 2, 2016