Wandsworth Council has agreed to develop plans for a new pedestrian and cycle bridge connecting Nine Elms with Pimlico.
The bridge would form part of the Nine Elms regeneration project which also includes the construction of two new tube stations, cycle friendly streets and thousands of new homes.
The bridge and other improvements will be funded from a levy on developments in the areas and from any growth in local business rates income, but the council says it may consider sponsorship funding if it allowed the bridge to be built sooner.
A final location for the £40m crossing has yet to be agreed but the council says the preferred option is to locate it close to the new US Embassy.
Officials are now working to develop an international design competition to find an architect for the project and expect to launch the competition in 2014.
Ravi Govindia, leader of Wandsworth Council and co-chair of the Nine Elms Vauxhall Partnership, said: “This will be a new bridge at the centre of the world’s greatest city so the design standard has to be exceptional. It will be a dream commission for the winning architect but to succeed they will have to meet some very unique challenges and expectations.
“The design will have to inspire and win the hearts of Londoners who are tremendously proud of their river and its heritage. It must work alongside the cutting edge modern architecture of Nine Elms as well as the elegant buildings on the north bank. There will be engineering feats to overcome and the landing points on both sides must integrate sensitively and effectively with their surroundings.
“This bridge has the potential to become a powerful icon for the revival of Nine Elms which will help us bring new life, jobs and homes to this underused part of London. It would also help connect communities north of the river with these new opportunities and create a valuable transport link for our growing city.”