The Paddington Partnership has been working to improve Bishop’s Bridge since 2021, when we commissioned 5th Studio to develop a public realm action plan. The plan was developed with the input of a wide range of local stakeholders including Westminster Council, Transport for London (buses and coaches), London Underground, Canal & River Trust, Network Rail and Marylebone Boys’ School, plus local landowners and estate teams.
Funded through the Hyde Park and Paddington Neighbourhood Forum Community Infrastructure Levy (NCIL), the final study report contained a host of ideas including additional crossings, relocating the National Express coaches, dedicated space for cycling, enhanced lighting, removing street clutter, widening pavements, more wayfinding signage and adding graphics and colour to the bridge parapets.
An extensive consultation exercise was then held between July and December 2022, seeking feedback, input and more ideas about how to improve Bishop’s Bridge. Participating in the consultation with detailed site visits and meetings were:
- Councillors from Hyde Park Ward
- Councillors from Little Venice Ward
- Councillors from Lancaster Gate Ward
- Resident groups from Sheldon Square
- Resident groups from Westbourne Terrace
- Hyde Park Estate Association (HPEA)
- Hyde Park Residents (HyPER)
- South East Bayswater Residents Association (SEBRA)
- Paddington Residents Active Concern on Transport (PRACT)
- Paddington Waterways and Maida Vale Society (MWMVS)
- Westminster Cycling Campaign
- Marylebone Boys’ School
- Westminster Council’s place-shaping team
- Westminster Council’s Cabinet Member for City Management
- Westminster Council’s Cabinet Member for Planning and Economic Development
- Westminster Council's Walking and Cycling Champion
- Transport for London (Coaches)
An online survey also captured responses, for those unable to attend on site in person. This was completed by 42 individuals.
Consultation (L-R): SEBRA/PRACT, Cllrs Lorraine Dean and Melvyn Caplan, Sheldon Square resident.
Consultation (L-R): Cllrs Ryan Jude and Ellie Ormsby, Cllr Md Shamsed Chowdhury, Westminster Cycling Campaign.
The final consultation report was published in March 2023 and can be read here. Following discussions of the consultation results with Westminster’s Cabinet members, the Partnership was asked to lead on lifting the appearance of Bishop’s Bridge and celebrating the area’s heritage, with the Council leading on the hard infrastructure changes and highway work through their Paddington Public Realm Strategy.
Overview of the Design Approach
A brief was drawn up by the Partnership and Steer and Jedco were appointed in March 2023 to develop the designs. Bishop’s Bridge is made up of 183 separate concrete parapets, each with a grey stainless steel panel. The design approach sees the creation of four distinct character zones on the bridge:
- Railside south: celebrating the history and heritage of Paddington station
- Railside north: featuring journeys and adventures from Paddington and the romance of travel
- Canalside south: revealing Brunel’s lost bridge and the world’s first Underground journey
- Canalside north: observing the canal’s industrial heritage and Paddington’s regenerated waterspace
Of the 183 parapet panels, the proposal is to replace 69 of these. The decision was taken not to replace all panels, partly due to the cost and partly to ensure that each character zone is capable of standing alone and does not bleed into a different theme. In each section the new panels feature copy, graphics, motifs and an extra special ‘Did you know?’ feature. The motifs take reference from the Paddington area and include a star from the Paddington station roof, the railings from Brunel's lost bridge, a flower from the canal's historic 'Roses and Castles' design and train tracks. Each group of panels fades out to blend seamlessly into adjacent existing grey panels.
Existing parapet panels on Bishop's Bridge.
Two wayfinding panels are also proposed, at the Eastbourne Terrace end of Bishop’s Bridge. Wayfinding was a theme that was raised repeatedly during previous consultation. Whilst the See Paddington scheme has addressed wayfinding to the canalside and Paddington station’s canalside entrance, and Paddington Central is well signed, the western end of Bishop’s Bridge still leaves pedestrians confused, both when exiting the Elizabeth line at Paddington station and when moving from the bridge towards Eastbourne Terrace. These signs will use the graphic style of See Paddington and add a playful element, rather than trying to replicate the style of the iconic Westminster street signs or TfL’s Legible London signs.
Wayfinding panels as part of See Paddington.
Following consultation the designs will be amended to take into account comments and feedback, and then a formal submission will be made to Westminster City Council for advertising consent. A Neighbourhood CIL application is also being prepared to cover the costs of the fabrication and installation phases of the project. The Paddington Partnership continues to meet the ongoing design, project management, engagement and consultation costs. If approved, the scheme could be implemented over the summer of 2024.
A series of permits and permissions will be required from Network Rail, Westminster Council, London Underground and the Canal and River Trust – as the bridge spans rail, tube and the canal. Small, short-term stoppages of the pavement may be required for panel removal and installation.
Please let us have comments by midnight on Monday 22 January 2024. Comments by email can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. We will also include replies to tweets about the proposed designs in our consultation report to Westminster Council.