New footbridge at Canary Wharf delayed — despite cash in the bank

Delayed for years... new docks footbridge everyone is waiting for

Delayed for years... new docks footbridge everyone is waiting for - Credit: LBTH

A new footbridge to end congestion for thousands of commuters reaching Canary Wharf has been delayed despite cash being put aside three years ago to build it.

Plans for the South Quay bridge at Millwall Docks to cope with the rapidly-growing Isle of Dogs population were finalised in 2018 by Tower Hamlets Council with £7million from London Councils to begin construction.

But work is still yet to start, it has emerged. 

The proposed 80ft long pedestrian footway would replace the old, narrow footbridge linking the residential South Quay neighbourhood to Canary Wharf over Millwall’s South Dock. 

Crowds spilling onto the old South Quay footbridge

Crowds spilling onto the old South Quay footbridge - Credit: Sergey Kharlamov

The call for a new pedestrian crossing followed scenes of chaos by an industrial strike on the DLR rail network in 2015. 

Commuters normally taking the DLR from South Quay and Crossharbour had to make their way to the tube at Canary Wharf by crossing the narrow footbridge. 

The council then came up with a scheme to add a second pedestrian crossing, finally agreed in 2018. 

Cllr Andrew Wood... 'Whatever reason, footbridge is years behind schedule'

Cllr Andrew Wood... 'Whatever reason, footbridge is years behind schedule' - Credit: Mike Brooke

“We’ve been talking about a second bridge for 20 years,” Tower Hamlets Cllr Andrew Wood said this week. 

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“We were told it would be finished by 2020, and here we are in October 2021. Whatever the reason, we're years behind schedule.”  

The council wants South Quay Plaza linked to Bank Street on the north side of the dock. But delays have been caused by where a footbridge would be sited. The  original suggestion would block dock moorings. 

The bridge is now expected to open in 2022, the council’s website says — but no guarantee.  

A town hall spokesperson said: “The footbridge scheme is gaining momentum and we're getting closer to this project to support development of the area. The timelines are only guides and subject to change.” 

Cllr Wood originally suggested removing the old, narrow footway altogether as it can’t cope and building a bigger, more robust footbridge further south, then putting in a new swing bridge at the dock entrance to let vessels in. 

South Quay's old footbridge... but can it cope with Isle of Dogs population explosion?

South Quay's old footbridge... but can it cope with Isle of Dogs population explosion? - Credit: Google

The DLR links Millwall and Cubitt Town south of the docks to Canary Wharf on the north side and to the City and Stratford. But the Isle of Dogs — with 40,000 people in Europe's most densely-populated area per square mile — faces a further population explosion in the next 10 years.  

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