Markers fail to hit the right spot

A London borough council has criticised the Millennium Commission for withdrawing funding from a Thames pathway-marking project, saying that it was given just two months to find a suitable design for the markers.

The Millennium Commission selected the Millennium Markers project for funding from a 50m package of proposals submitted to it last year by Thames Connections, which comprises Richmond, Kingston and Hounslow borough councils. The project aimed to establish visitor points featuring markers bearing information along the river.

“They told us in August that they had selected the project. They wanted the designs by the end of October,” says planning co-ordinator Jenny Pearce of Richmond Council. The timescale meant that a “quick competition” was held to find a designer for the markers, with architect Panter Hudspith selected.

Pearce says lack of time precluded public consultation over the design. Complaints from local residents followed. “The Millennium Commission said it wasn’t happy and wanted changes, but no-one at the commission was available to discuss design,” she says. Millennium commissioner Simon Jenkins suggested a more traditional approach, leading to the appointment of architect Robert Adam to work with Panter Hudspith.

The architects had just commenced work when funding was withdrawn in December. “The process was a lot more difficult than necessary,” says Pearce.

The Millennium Commission says a number of factors led to withdrawal of funding for the project, including a failure by Thames Connections to raise matching funds. Richmond Council says that it had only just appointed a fund-raiser when the Millennium Commission pulled its support.

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