Dated 21st July 2008
In response to the World Class Stratford-upon-Avon Press Release 15.07.08
Withdrawal of the Avon Bridge Project from the World Class Stratford-upon-Avon programme.
In a press release dated 15.07.2008, Warwickshire County Council, Stratford District Council and Advantage West Midlands announced the withdrawal of the Avon Bridge project due to spiraling cost.
As lead designers of the bridge, we must refute this statement.
If we adhere to the original brief and budget, the bridge remains realizable. Delays and inflation have increased costs of the stainless steel bridge by approximately £600,000, not 1.3million.
In the latest stages of the design development, our response to counteract inflation and bring the project back within budget has remained unanswered. Perhaps private sponsorship could have been sought if neither the County nor District could fund the cost of the delays.
It also appears that Warwickshire County Council, Stratford District Council and Advantage West Midlands have added costs which were not originally identified as part of the cost of the bridge. These added costs should be considered within the overall budget of the World Class Stratford programme.
We cannot reconcile the cost put forward by the authorities.
It is too easy to hide behind figures.
The cancellation of the Avon Bridge Project has more to do with local politics than costs.
The funding of the programme is for a World Class Stratford.
The bridge is the cornerstone of the programme, it will enhance and reinforce town, park and river links and it is an invitation to increase the pleasure of walking and cycling in and around the town.
Rearranging the flower beds in Bancroft Gardens is simply not a world class project!
The bridge is also recognition by the authorities of the pivotal economic importance of Shakespeare and of the Royal Shakespeare Company which continues to promote and celebrate his work. The location of the new bridge will allow many more people to enjoy the riverside walkways alongside the new Royal Shakespeare Theatre.
It is deeply regrettable that Warwickshire County Council, Stratford District Council and Advantage West Midlands have bowed to nimbyism. We ask them to reconsider their decision and not to lose sight of their international agenda and commitment and responsibility.
We keep the hope alive that in the not too distant future, the bridge will become a reality and will be adopted and celebrated by many.
Ian Ritchie Architects
21st July 2008
Dated 15th July 2008
Avon bridge project withdrawn as construction estimates spiral
Plans to build a pedestrian and cycle bridge over the River Avon in Stratford have been withdrawn following a budget review which highlighted substantially increased costs for the project. However, the original funding provided for the bridge remains available to deliver other elements of the World Class Stratford project.
The decision was reached jointly by Warwickshire County Council, Stratford District Council and Advantage West Midlands.
“A budget review commissioned as part of the County Council’s ongoing design development of the bridge has highlighted a significant increase in costs since the original estimate of £2 million was established in 2005. That figure has now increased to £3.3 million due to a combination of factors including the increased world price of steel, the need for additional flood mitigation measures and general construction sector super-inflation over the past three years,” said Cllr Chris Saint, Economic Development Portfolio Holder for Warwickshire County Council.
“Neither the County or District Councils are in a position to fund the shortfall so we have reluctantly decided to remove the bridge from the World Class Stratford programme. The focus will now be on completion of other Phase One elements including the re-landscaping of the Bancroft Gardens, which is well underway, and improvements to the Waterside and Southern Lane area,” he added.
Cllr Les Topham, leader of Stratford District Council and chairman of the World Class Stratford Strategy Group said: “Having discussed this at length with colleagues at the County Council and Advantage West Midlands, county council, district council and AWM all agreed to call a halt on the bridge. At £2 million it represented good value for money and would have added to the town’s visitor appeal, but we are not able to extend the financial commitment to meet the new estimate.
“With uncertainty over the bridge now removed our priorities will be completion of the existing Phase One project and bringing forward detailed proposals for a Phase Two scheme and funding bid later in the year.”
Advantage West Midlands’ Partnerships Director, Philip Roberts commented: “AWM had approved funding of £1.8 million towards the original estimate of £2 million, but the additional funding that would be required to meet the increased costs would not deliver additional value for money.
“However, the decision taken by the three partners on the bridge does not diminish our commitment to funding Phase One of World Class Stratford and we are also looking at a number of projects as part of Phase Two. The funds released as a result of this decision will create further opportunities to support this important initiative.”
Plans for a new river bridge were originally put forward as part of the Waterfront Masterplan and later adopted within Phase One of World Class Stratford. A design submitted by Ian Ritchie Architects was selected to go forward following a series of public exhibitions. Further community consultation was carried out last December and since then Warwickshire County Council has been preparing detailed studies in readiness for a possible Planning Application.
That process has highlighted the inflated cost of the project which has ultimately resulted in the decision to withdraw it from the World Class Stratford programme. A total of £312,000 has been spent by Warwickshire County Council on the project to date in taking the scheme from initial concept design to a point at which it was ready for planning consideration.