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Chief Bakes

BBC: London's Garden Bridge project officially abandoned

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Chief Bakes

London's Garden Bridge project officially abandoned

  • 14 August 2017
  • From the section London
Garden Bridge planImage copyright Heatherwick Studio
Image caption A review of the project said more than £37m had already been spent

A £200m plan to build a bridge covered with trees across the River Thames in central London has officially been abandoned.

The Garden Bridge Trust has announced that it is winding up the project due to a lack of support from the mayor.

In April, Sadiq Khan said he would not provide the financial guarantee needed for planning permission.

A review of the project said £37.4m had been spent and it would cost taxpayers £46.4m if it was cancelled.

Since the mayor's decision, the trust has been looking at other funding options, including speaking to the government. It said that all potential benefactors and trustees decided the project could not happen without the support of the mayor.

'Sad day'

In a letter to Mr Khan, the trust's chairman Lord Davies said: "We are incredibly sad that we have not been able to make the dream of the Garden Bridge a reality and that the mayor does not feel able to continue with the support he initially gave us."

He said the trust had raised £70m of private money towards the project and had satisfied most of the planning permission conditions.

"The Garden Bridge would have been a unique place; a beautiful new green space in the heart of London, free to use and open to all, showcasing the best of British talent and innovation," Lord Davies said.

"It is all the more disappointing because the trust was set up at the request of TfL (Transport for London), the organisation headed up by the mayor, to deliver the project. It is a sad day for London because it is sending out a message to the world that we can no longer deliver such exciting projects."

Commenting on the decision to drop the project, Mr Khan said it was his "duty to ensure taxpayers' money was spent responsibly".

"I have been clear since before I became mayor that no more London taxpayers' money should be spent on this project and when I took office I gave the Garden Bridge Trust time to try and address the multiple serious issues with it.

"Londoners will, like me, be very angry that London taxpayers have now lost tens of millions of pounds - committed by the previous mayor on a project that has amounted to nothing."

Image copyright Arup
Image caption Dame Margaret Hodge's review said the Garden Bridge's costs were spiralling out of control

A review into whether the Garden Bridge offered taxpayers value for money said the project should be scrapped.

TfL had pledged £30m, but £20m of that was to be a loan, and the rest was from central government.

Andrew Boff, Conservative London Assembly member, said Mr Khan had wasted £9m in taxpayers' money as he could have scrapped the project in May last year.

Garden Bridge timeline:

BBC London's transport correspondent Tom Edwards said: "It was never really a transport project, it was a tourist attraction and crucially in 2012 no-one asked locals if they wanted it."

Thomas Heatherwick, who designed the bridge, said: "Our cities need optimistic, amazing people (who supported the project) like this. And London needs new bridges and unexpected new public places.

"The Garden Bridge has not found its right moment, but I hope one day it will and that London continues to be open to ideas that make life here better."

Ms Lumley has not commented on the decision.

View the full article

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Regardless of the rights and wrongs of it all, it's a shame that it came so far before it quiet literally got sank.

I suspect that there was a political imperative for ditching it. Whilst I do confess to being a Guardian reading leftie, I also don't have an issue with a bit of spending that adds cultural capital to London. £37m was spent and for nothing. They may have as well seen it through.

The moral of the story, mind you, is that whenever Joanna Lumley comes up with a 'good idea' everyone- regardless of their political views- should just pat the airhead on her bounce and say 'that's nice' before disregarding whatever it is that she said.

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Cathedral Bobby

How do you manage to spend £37 million on a project that hasn't even started building. Who had the contract the Russian mafia

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Zulu 22

I cannot imagine how anyone could think that it is was a good idea. The cost alone should have ensured that it was sunk earlier, before conception.  £37 million spent so far, I would like to see the books and accounts over that.

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Cathedral Bobby

Money well spent on ones friends, nudge nudge wink wink, say no more

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Zulu 22

Apparently the estimated cost of building it was £220 million, that quote was from O'Reilly of Fawlty Towers fame, what what would the true cost have been?

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Yet we have ailing infrastructure in the North and London can waste £37m on what amounts to a 'cultural vanity project' without a single brick being laid? That funding could have gone to far, far worthier causes...

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£37m isn't that much. There would have needed to be feasibility studies, designs, legals, planning permissions and a whole shed more.

I guess it goes back to the issue of Joanna Lumley and her 'bright ideas'. There's lots of Ghurkas stranded in the UK after her campaign; many of whom are not happy. Nice girl. Not much going on upstairs, mind you.

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