Mayor of London Boris Johnson has launched a vision for a dramatic increase in the number of river crossings – with eight of the proposed 13 links in the Docklands.
The mayor is playing catch-up as east London has been traditionally deprived of crossings but will be the engine of population and business growth for the next generation.
If all the ideas were executed over the next decades there will be a third more crossings – fixed link, tunnel, ferry, rail, road and pedestrians – between Imperial Wharf in the west to Dartford in the Thames estuary.
Mr Johnson MP said: “Building a series of new bridges and tunnels across the Thames is essential for the future prosperity of our rapidly-growing city.
“By creating more links between the north and south of the river, we won’t just improve day-to-day travelling across the capital, we’ll unlock areas for development and create thousands of jobs and homes.
“This is a vital package of crossings that will drive economic growth and get more people walking, cycling and on to public transport.”
His strategic vision is outlined in a new report Connecting The Capital which casts forward to 2050. It shows how the proposed crossings will support the needs of London’s population, which is set to rise from 8.6million now to 10million by 2030.
A number of the links in east London are well-known, with the Silvertown Tunnel having completed its consultation phase.
However, ideas that may be unfamiliar include a tunnel at Gallions Reach (a bridge has been envisaged for this site), a cycle and pedestrian ferry between Canary Wharf and Greenwich and a ferry crossing between Charlton riverside and the Royal Docks.
A consultation has now begun on the east-of-Silvertown crossings at Gallions Reach and Belvedere which may also see an extension of the DLR or a tram service. These tolled crossings could be open in 2025.
Managing director for planning at TfL Richard de Cani said: “With more housing being built, crossing the river will become ever more important. New cross-river connections can unlock opportunities for local people and help transform an area, supporting regeneration and development.
“We must progress plans for this package of crossings if we are to support London’s growth and galvanise the economic potential it presents.”
Colin Stanbridge, chief executive of London Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said: “London is growing eastwards and that means we need the right infrastructure to open-up new opportunities. [The chamber is] eager to see new crossings to connect the businesses and communities north and south of the river to unlock potential growth.”
The crossings strategy isn’t universally welcome. Lewisham Council, along with Hackney, has announced its opposition to Silvertown Tunnel – mostly over air quality fears – while Green Party’s Darren Johnson has said: “Road tunnels are a 20th century solution for a 21st century city.
“London deserves better than toxic roads that will worsen air quality, jam the city up with traffic and distract the mayor from building decent links for cyclists, rail commuters and people who want to get around by foot.”
13 new crossings in London
Rotherhithe to Canary Wharf: Pedestrian and cycle bridge (feasibility).
North Greenwich to the Isle of Dogs: a passenger ferry linking North Greenwich and the Isle of Dogs (Blackwall) (conceptual).
Silvertown tunnel: Twin bore tunnel connecting Silvertown on the north side to the Blackwall Tunnel Approach on the south side (preparation).
Charlton: a passenger ferry crossing linking the Royal Docks and Charlton Riverside (conceptual).
Crossrail: New rail line linking Woolwich with Custom House and onward to Canary Wharf, central London and Heathrow Airport (construction).
Gallions Reach: Multi-modal crossing linking Thamesmead with Beckton along a safeguarded alignment (consultation).
Belvedere: Multi-modal crossing connecting Belvedere with Rainham (consultation)
Barking Riverside to Thamesmead: London Overground tunnel extension from Barking Riverside to Thamesmead (conceptual).
- Lower Thames Crossing: New road crossing linking Essex and Kent (progressing).
Diamond Jubilee: Pedestrian and cycle bridge linking Fulham with Battersea (planning permission granted).
Crossrail 2: New railway line connecting Hertfordshire and Surrey via central London and providing a new cross river link between Victoria and Clapham Junction (consultation).
Vauxhall, Nine Elms and Battersea: Pedestrian and cycle bridge (feasibility).
Garden Bridge: New pedestrian crossing linking the South Bank to Temple station (planning permission granted).