London could be getting a whole new set of pedestrian bridges

The proposed Brunel Bridge at Rotherhithe. Image: reForm.

Pedestrian bridges: they’re just like road bridges, only with less cars, pollution or excess deaths from respiratory diseases.

Good thing, too, that the British capital might be getting some more of the things. Here are three which Londoners could be treading fairly soon.

Nine Elms

Image credit: Erik Bystrup.

Opposition voices have declaimed the forthcoming Vauxhall-Pimlico pedestrian and cycle bridge as little more another layer of marketing gloss aimed at further flogging the area’s new high-end Nine Elms development.

But while the perceived gentrification of a historic neighbourhood – one which will include a 13,000 ft2 Waitrose – has been greeted with in equal parts opprobrium and support, the charges against the bridge don’t entirely stick.

The area has long been a recognised by TfL and the mayor’s office as offering great potential for further jobs and housing, and a new footbridge has been in the offing for years. Plans drawn up by Danish architect Erik Bystrup for a sweeping, slender crossing were this week backed by Wandsworth council’s assessors, who credited the design’s compactness and simplicity. The project is set to cost £40m.

Brunel Bridge, Rotherhithe

Image credit: reForm.

Moving west from Tower Bridge, you’ll see 23 bridges up-river to Kew. Moving east, there are no bridges until the Dartford Crossing.

Perhaps not for long, however. Plans for a new drawbridge, spanning the river from Rotherhithe to Canary Wharf, have just been unveiled by architects reForm. Experts say the bridge, for which Sustrans has been conducting a £200,000 feasability study, could unlock huge development on the southern side of the river.

If commentators are to be believed, the £88m pedestrian and cycle bridge could mean 20,000 new homes in Rotherhithe linked to 30,000 new jobs across the river, transforming this pocket of south east London. At 83 metres it would be the longest drawbridge in the world (shipping needs to be able to get underneath it).

Don’t get too excited, though: local government authorities are yet to weigh in.

The Garden Bridge

Image credit: Heatherwick Studios.

When they come to write the history of the Garden Bridge it will likely read as a great drama, full of grand ambition and dashed promise, money troubles, and a dose of celebrity. In reality, though, the project is a plodder, rumbling forward impervious to criticism and powered by charm and sheer self-will.


A fitting legacy for the Mayor, perhaps. The latest chapter of the saga last week saw the Garden Bridge Trust last week announce that work will begin in early 2016, despite the project’s significant funding shortfall.

The bridge will cost an estimated £175m; it’s so far has received £60m in official grants and loans, as will be reliant, too, on further government backing to meet any overspend. Of the £115m target for private pledges, so far £85m has been raised.

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Coming soon: CityMetric will relaunch as City Monitor, a new publication dedicated to the future of cities

Coming soon!

Later this month, CityMetric will be relaunching with an entirely new look and identity, as well as an expanded editorial mission. We’ll become City Monitor, a name that reflects both a ramping up of our ambitions as well as our membership in a network of like-minded publications coming soon from New Statesman Media Group. We can’t wait to share the new website with you, but in the meantime, here’s what CityMetric readers should know about what to expect from this exciting transition.  

Regular CityMetric readers may have already noticed a few changes around here since the spring. CityMetric’s beloved founding editor, Jonn Elledge, has moved on to some new adventures, and a new team has formed to take the site into the future. It’s led by yours truly – I’m Sommer Mathis, the editor-in-chief of City Monitor. Hello!

My background includes having served as the founding editor of CityLab, editor-in-chief of Atlas Obscura, and editor-in-chief of DCist, a local news publication in the District of Columbia. I’ve been reporting on and writing about cities in one way or another for the past 15 years. To me, there is no more important story in the world right now than how cities are changing and adapting to an increasingly challenging global landscape. The majority of the world’s population lives in cities, and if we’re ever going to be able to tackle the most pressing issues currently facing our planet – the climate emergency, rising inequality, the Covid-19 pandemic ­­­– cities are going to have to lead the way.

That’s why City Monitor is going to be a global publication dedicated to the future of cities everywhere – not just in the UK (nor for that matter just in the US, where I live). Our mission will be to help our readers, many of whom are in leadership positions around the globe, navigate how cities are changing and discover what’s next in the world of urban policy. We’ll do that through original reporting, expert opinion and most crucially, a data-driven approach that emphasises evidence and rigorous analysis. We want to arm local decision-makers and those they work in concert with – whether that’s elected officials, bureaucratic leaders, policy advocates, neighbourhood activists, academics and researchers, entrepreneurs, or plain-old engaged citizens – with real insights and potential answers to tough problems. Subjects we’ll cover include transportation, infrastructure, housing, urban design, public safety, the environment, the economy, and much more.

The City Monitor team is made up of some of the most experienced urban policy journalists in the world. Our managing editor is Adam Sneed, also a CityLab alum where he served as a senior associate editor. Before that he was a technology reporter at Politico. Allison Arieff is City Monitor’s senior editor. She was previously editorial director of the urban planning and policy think tank SPUR, as well as a contributing columnist for The New York Times. Staff writer Jake Blumgart most recently covered development, housing, and politics for WHYY, the local public radio station in Philadelphia. And our data reporter is Alexandra Kanik, whose previous roles include data reporting for Louisville Public Media in Kentucky and PublicSource in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Our team will continue to grow in the coming weeks, and we’ll also be collaborating closely with our editorial colleagues across New Statesman Media Group. In fact, we’re launching a whole network of new publications this fall, covering topics such as the clean energy transition, foreign direct investment, technology, banks and more. Many of these sectors will frequently overlap with our cities coverage, and a key part of our plan is make the most of the expertise that all of these newsrooms combined will bring to bear on our journalism.

City Monitor will go live later this month. In the meantime, please visit citymonitor.ai to sign up for our forthcoming email newsletter.


As for CityMetric, some of its archives have already been moved over to the new website, and the rest will follow not long after. If you’re looking for a favourite piece from CityMetric’s past, for a time you’ll still be able to find it here, but before long the whole archive will move over to City Monitor.

On behalf of the City Monitor team, I’m thrilled to invite you to come along for the ride at our forthcoming digs. You can already follow City Monitor on LinkedIn, and on Twitter, sign up or keep following our existing account, which will switch over to our new name shortly. If you’re interested in learning more about the potential for a commercial partnership with City Monitor, please get in touch with our director of partnerships, Joe Maughan.

I want to thank and congratulate Jonn Elledge on a brilliant run. Everything we do from here on out will be building on the legacy of his work, and the community that he built here at CityMetric. Cheers, Jonn!

In the meantime, stay tuned, and thank you from all of us for being a loyal CityMetric reader. We couldn’t have done any of this without you.

Sommer Mathis is editor-in-chief of City Monitor.