Sunderland council has pulled the plug on the Wear Crossing bridge after the contractors involved in the development both came in over budget.

The £118 million development had been designed by north-east architect Stephen Spence and was set to become the tallest bridge in England and Wales, with the highest of the two towers reaching 187m. However, the plans have now been scrapped entirely after both contractors, Vinci of France and Northern Ireland's Graham, failed to submit tenders that were within the agreed price budget.

Councillors took the decision to ditch the project claiming that it was "unaffordable" and would require "significant additional funding" if it was to be successfully created. To counteract the disappointment at not being able to bring the Wear Crossing to fruition, councillors are now looking to build a simplified cable-stayed design that it is both cost-efficient and able to be delivered on time.

Speaking about the future developments, councillor Paul Watson, Sunderland city council leader, said: "The simplified design will continue to embrace modern and tasteful design qualities, while maximising tested engineering technology and construction techniques. The fact that it is of cable-stayed design means that by its nature it will have a striking quality to it.

"It will sit within the same footprint and deliver on all of the benefits of the initial design, by reducing traffic congestion, improving connectivity and unlocking brownfield land – with its potential to increase growth, jobs and investment.

Sunderland is home to a number of iconic bridges including the Wearmouth Bridge which sits in the heart of the city centre connecting the north and south of Sunderland. It sits adjacent the Wearmouth Rail Bridge designed for the transportation of regional train services and the Tyne and Wear Metro.

The council are set to go back to the drawing board as officials look to deliver a new bridge that could be awarded a contract as early as October 2014.

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