Who is involved?
The programme is being led by both Tower Hamlets and Newham’s Regeneration Teams, alongside key supporting partner organisations TFL, GLA and LLDC.
What has been achieved so far?
Work first started on the bridge programme in the Lower Lea Valley in 2008 when the London Thames Gateway proposed the Fatwalk, a strategic north-south route to connect the Olympic Park with the River Thames. Three connectivity projects were originally conceived: Twelvetrees Ramp, Poplar Reach Bridge and the A13 Connector. In 2010 designs for Poplar Reach bridge were developed and planning permission was granted for the bridge, along with a number of other connectivity projects as part of the completion of the Leaway route. However these permissions have now lapsed and the early closure of the LTGDC in 2013 halted progress on the programme for a number of years.
In 2016 the Fatwalk was renamed as the Lea River Park and a comprehensive design vision was drafted proposing a series of green spaces along the River Lea stitched together by the Leaway path and a series of new connectivity projects. The Lochnagar and Mayer Parry bridges were then conceived to improve public transport links for emerging Leaside developments at Ailsa Wharf, Islay Wharf and Leven Road. Work commenced on the design of the Lochnagar Bridge to support the Ailsa Wharf planning application. The Twelvetrees Ramp was the first of the suite of original LTGDC connectivity projects to be completed and opened for public use. Soon after, the City Island Red Bridge was completed by the developer Ballymore and opened for public use, connecting City Island to Canning Town Station. Other interventions completed so far as part of the Lea River Park include the refurbishment of the A13 underpass and the A13 ramp improving pedestrian and cycle access to and from Canning Town Station.
Planning consent was granted in 2018 for the Ailsa Wharf scheme which safeguards land in Tower Hamlets for the Lochnagar bridge landing. Subsequently, the Leven Road Gasworks development achieved planning consent which safeguards land in Tower Hamlets for the Poplar Reach and Mayer Parry bridges. Tower Hamlets and Newham then established the Leaside Partnership Board, co-chaired by the Mayors of both boroughs, alongside a cross-borough working group to progress the delivery of the bridge programme. By this time a wider programme of eight connectivity projects was in the pipeline in the Lower Lea Valley. Feasibility and impact studies were commissioned and a prioritisation assessment identified three bridges as the most impactful and deliverable: Lochnagar, Poplar Reach and Mayer Parry. In 2020 Tower Hamlets adopted its new Local Plan which identifies specific site allocations for these three priority bridges and, design work commenced on the Mayer Parry bridge.
Progress on the wider bridge programme has accelerated more recently in 2021 as both Tower Hamlets and Newham secured capital funding towards their share of the programme costs. A partnership development framework was entered into by both boroughs with arrangements for the delivery of the programme agreed in a memorandum of understanding. Engagement and negotiation with key river bodies has commenced along with design work on the Lochnagar bridge. Design work on the Mayer Parry bridge has progressed and three options have been selected to take forward to a more detailed design stage. Key ground risk surveys, technical studies and benefit analysis studies have been commissioned. Preparations have also commenced on design work for the Poplar Reach bridge. Planning consent was granted for the Thameside West development in Newham which safeguards land for the Thameswharf bridge landing and negotiations with TFL are now underway to safeguard land for the A13 Connector alongside the refurbishment of the A13 Road Bridge.
Will there be opportunities to provide feedback?
Yes, definitely! We want to hear from residents/visitors, businesses, and community groups throughout the design process and there will be lots of opportunities to provide feedback and take part in consultation events. This page will be the central point for all communication and engagement updates. If you would like to stay informed about the progress of the bridges, please subscribe opposite. If you have any questions, please email: LBTH.Regeneration@towerhamlets.gov.uk.
How are the bridges being paid for?
Tower Hamlets and Newham have committed to sharing the costs of the priority bridge programme on a 50:50 basis and the bridges will be funded from a mix of sources. Funding for Tower Hamlets' share of the costs includes grant funding of £2.4m from the GLA, Strategic Investment Pot (SIP) funding for enabling work and funding from LLDC towards land acquisition for Poplar Reach bridge. The rest will come from the council’s capital programme which comprises planning contributions from nearby developments. Tower Hamlets is also leading on a cross-borough application for Homes England Funding for infrastructure in the Lower Lea Valley which includes the bridge programme. Homes England have agreed to partially fund key enabling studies as part of their early intervention fund. Funding for Newham's share of the costs includes grant funding of £2m from the Levelling Up Fund for the Lochnagar Bridge, capital funding of £1.75m towards design and enabling work, as well as up to £7.25m in Local Infrastructure Rate (LIR) funding.
When will the bridges be open for use?
The design work is expected to complete on all three bridges in 2023. Construction is expected to commence soon after and completion is anticipated in 2024-2025 with the bridges open for use in 2025.
I am a neighbouring business/resident and want to know how I will be affected?
There are lots of issues – ranging from the design of the bridges to access restrictions and construction work - and the council will be engaging with local businesses and residents about these issues at every stage as part of design development. These arrangements will be confirmed through the evolving design work and we’re keen to get your feedback in the meantime so we can manage this most effectively. Please email LBTH.Regeneration@towerhamlets.gov.uk.
What other regeneration projects are in the area?
There are a number of other regeneration projects in the Lower Lea Valley. LLDC are progressing with their connectivity programme to the North which includes new river bridges and a proposal for new A12 crossings at Bromley By Bow. The comprehensive redevelopment of the former gasworks site at Leven Road is under construction including a new one hectare park which connects directly to the proposed Poplar Reach bridge. Redevelopment of the City Island and Good Luck Hope sites to the south are almost complete. Aberfeldy, Teviot and Devons Road estate regeneration schemes are underway at planning stage. Completion of the Thames Path and regeneration plans for East India Dock Basin are underway to the South.
Can I request an accessible format or translated copy?
Email us at LBTH.Regeneration@towerhamlets.gov.uk to request an accessible format or translated copy of materials, or if you require further assistance.