New cycle and pedestrian bridge connecting two East London boroughs approved

How the bridge will eventually look across East London's River Lea
-Credit: (Image: Tower Hamlets Council planning documents)

A new cycle and pedestrian bridge that will connect two boroughs in East London has been given the green light by councillors. Last week (May 14), Tower Hamlets Council's strategic development committee unanimously approved plans for a new bridge across the River Lea.

The 63m bridge will be built at Ailsa Wharf and both pedestrians and cyclists will be able to travel between Tower Hamlets and neighbouring borough Newham. There will be a permanent 33m wide and 3m high channel so smaller boats can still pass underneath and on occasions when the bridge will need to be raised, the Tower Hamlets side will be elevated using hydraulic jacks.

According to a Tower Hamlets Council report, a separate planning application has been submitted and is currently being assessed by Newham Council. During last week's meeting with Tower Hamlets' strategic development committee, a planning officer said: "This piece of infrastructure will serve the people within the borough but will also allow for better cross-borough movement particularly for pedestrians and cyclists.

READ MORE: 'Ignored' tenants don't know who 'good neighbours' are amid subletting concerns and missing parcels

Another CGI image drawing of the bridge
Another CGI image drawing of the bridge -Credit:Tower Hamlets Council planning documents

"At the moment it's within a proportion of the borough [Tower Hamlets] which is somewhat cut-off, and does to a degree make places a bit more dependent on cars." He said the bridge would play a vital role in opening up this part of the borough especially for residents who are living in 'emerging residential locations'.

Labour councillor, Mufeedah Bustin, did have some concerns about antisocial behaviour (ASB) after looking at one of the CGI images showing a man sitting on the bridge. Cllr Bustin said: "At first I was just wondering what he was looking at, but then I started to think is that meant to be used as seating? Is there going to be an issue at night time with ASB?

"Particularly with women walking across that bridge late at night, is there any anti-ASB infrastructure that's going to be put in place to prevent people hanging around and sitting on that bridge?" The planning officer said the Met Police is currently being consulted regarding lighting and inputting other safety features as part of a police initiative called Secured by Design.

He later said: "I think it's also really important to consider that the bridge is not being designed just as simply a means for getting from A to B but as a way for the borough's residents to enjoy the waterways of the River Lea. I think it's a real asset within the borough that at the moment is perhaps a little bit underused."

When it came to final comments, Green councillor Nathalie Bienfait praised the plans and the design of the bridge. Cllr Bienfait said: "I quite like this application and I think if we were to approve it, it would be a significant boom for the borough. I especially like the design, I think the orange colour is similar to the bridges which currently cross the same river around the Olympic Park and that area in particular really needs bridges between the two boroughs so I'm feeling positive about this."

When it came to the vote, the application was unanimously approved by the committee. The committee recommended two additional conditions concerning the drainage strategy and a Secured by Design review of the seating area be carried out and added to the application.

Don't miss out on the biggest East London news. Sign up to our MyEastLondon newsletter HERE for all the latest daily news and more.