Green vision for a new 'garden bridge' over the River Ribble at Preston.

Could this be the futuristic shape of things to come when Preston finally replaces its historic old Tram Bridge across the River Ribble?

By Brian Ellis
Wednesday, 11th March 2020, 11:45 am
What a new "garden bridge" across the Ribble could look like. (Image Studio John Bridge).
What a new "garden bridge" across the Ribble could look like. (Image Studio John Bridge).

One local architects firm reckons the city should be thinking green and building a garden bridge to link Preston with South Ribble.

The aptly named Studio John Bridge in Winckley Square has even gone as far as suggesting a design, complete with trees and shrubs, as a “thought provoking gift” to get the debate up and running.

And after the idea was floated on social media, it won almost universal approval from locals.

Preston's old Tram Bridge has been condemned as dangerous and will probably be demolished.

Even Preston Council’s deputy leader Coun Peter Moss joined in, saying: “Looks amazing, well done.”

But, in a reference to the £200m London Garden Bridge project which was eventually abandoned in 2017, he added: “But ‘garden bridges’ don’t really have a good reputation in this country just now, do they?”

The city’s Tram Bridge was shut a year ago due to safety concerns after more than 200 faults were discovered during an inspection. It was subsequently decided that repairing it would not be viable and the structure would have to be demolished.

Early estimates for the cost of replacing it are between £5m and £10m. Preston has applied for cash from the Government’s Transforming Cities Fund to re-shape the city’s transport system, with a new Tram Bridge included in the bid.

How a new "garden bridge" could look for pedestrians and cyclists. (Image Studio John Bridge).

Studio John Bridge said on Facebook: “It’s an imaginative concept for starters. The addition of the plants would not cause a safety concern we don’t feel.

"They would add to the biodiversity of the park, creating some screening from weather, with stunning views on and off the bridge.

"This is just a modest sustainable pedestrian bridge with no shipping lanes to contend with, a very important one for Prestonians too.”

One contributor called the speculative design “eye-catching.” Another said: “Would really enhance the park and be something pretty unique for the city.”

And a third added: “Looks great, but I doubt it would be affordable for local government in the current climate.”

But not everyone gave the idea the thumbs up. One said: “Looks a bit Teletubbies tbh.” And another commented: “A basic bridge would suffice ASAP!”

Both Preston Council and LCC say they are involved in an “ongoing dialogue” over the future of the Ribble crossing and the options available if the old bridge - built in 1802 and rebuilt in 1935 - is to be demolished.

Plans for a garden bridge across the Thames in London between Waterloo and Blackfriars bridges collapsed three years ago due to mounting costs.

But even though building work never began, the cost of the project still reached £53m - £43m of that was public money.

The idea in the capital was originally dreamed up by actor Joanna Lumley as far back as 1998. By 2013 it had the backing of the Mayor of London Boris Johnson and planning permission followed in 2014.

The bridge was going to be 366-metres in length and the final bill was estimated at more than £200m. A large part of that (£140m) was to come from private investors.