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The Garden Bridge Project, London

Computer rendering of the planned bridge, created by engineers Arup
Computer rendering of the planned bridge, created by engineers Arup

Thomas Heatherwick’s Garden Bridge  has moved  one step closer to reality with the appointment of building contractors Bouygues Travaux Publics and  Cimolai. Building work  is now scheduled to  start this summer 2016,  but opponents and locals are still not convinced.

Why Is London’s Garden Bridge worth as Much as Five Lancashire Museums? Ask’s Joanna Lumley

The  Opponents

For those of you who aren’t aware of the project, it’s intended to be a plant-covered pedestrian bridge across the River Thames between the South Bank and Temple. The Bridge was designed by  Heatherwick  after being conceived by  British actress Joanna Lumley.

Coined  as a “wondrous green oasis floating above the River Thames”, the £175m 367-metre-long Garden Bridge, backed by London mayor Boris Johnson, has sparked a huge amount of  controversy in London with calls for the project  to be halted  from a number of local politicians. This includes Vauxhall  MP Kate Hoey and  three councillors from the London Borough of Lambeth, even though  planning permission was granted by both local authorities  in late 2014.

Writing in the Guardian,  Ian Jack  contrasted the £60m taxpayer support for the project with the closure of five Lancashire museums — two of the which are nationally important and forty libraries. Jack described the bridge as unwanted and unnecessary and the closures as “cultural disembowelment.

In November 2014, it was claimed that the bridge would be off limits to groups of eight or more people and cyclists, and closed between midnight and 6am. Critiques fear that  the £175m bridge, which already has £60m in official grants and loans, will require a bailout if costs rise or efforts to drum up further private money fail.

Halt London Garden Bridge Project, Says RIBA President

An  study by The Architect’s Journal  found that Heatherwick was present for at least five  meetings with London’s mayor Boris Johnson prior to the contest. The AJ  also claimed that a manager for government body Transport for London (TfL) had reported anomalies  in  the design competition.

“It’s Now Abundantly Clear That the Design Competition That Transport for London Held in Early 2013 Was Nothing of the Sort,” Aj Deputy Editor Will Hurst Told Dezeen

Kate Hoey, the Labour MP whose Vauxhall constituency is on the south side of the bridge, has said “it is quite clear they haven’t raised nearly as much money as they originally thought.” However, The Garden Bridge Trust which  was launched on 1 November 2013 to oversee the project argued that its  perfectly ordinary for large infrastructure  projects to begin work while fundraising determinations continue, however, in Project Journal’s experience such ambitious construction projects commonly overrun in terms of budget and time.  For  example,  an extension to the Tate Modern art gallery  was scheduled to open in 2012 at a cost of £215m. It will instead open this  year  at an estimated cost of   £260m.

The Garden Bridge Trust has now raised an additional £85 million.

The Project

The Garden Bridge project began as a seamlessly innocent idea, a beautiful new garden floating above the River Thames, sounds amazing. Imagine crossing a river surrounded by wildlife in the middle of London City. Imagine a morning commute through a peaceful garden. Well, the Garden Bridge Trust intends to make this a reality. However, who will benefit the most, the rich, middle class, or the poor?

The bridge is planned to be 30 metres (98  ft) across at its widest point. It would run from the roof of Temple station  as a continuation of Arundel Street  on the north bank to Queen’s Walk by the London Studios, where a large public green open space would be redeveloped to provide a commercial building associated with the project. The bridge will feature trees,  shrubs, and  wildflowers. Its construction would require 32 mature trees in the avenue on Queen’s Walk, on the South Bank.

“The Garden Bridge Will Be an Extraordinarily Special Place, Either to Race Across, Relax in or Look Back at the Rest of the City’s Sights.” Thomas Heatherwick

The bridge is officially scheduled to open late 2018. Hoey said it would be “particularly inexcusable” for any more public money to be committed when her constituency was struggling under government cuts.

If you’re wondering why the bridge is being built in the first place, or why Jane Duncan is asking for the project to be terminated, read Ian Jack’s opinion piece  ‘Why is London’s Garden Bridge worth as much as five Lancashire museums? Ask Joanna Lumley’  a particularly powerful and unforgiving piece, and for us, the truth.

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7 Comments

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  1. This sounds like such a one of a kind wonderful idea.
    London could use something like this. It would certainly be an attraction.
    Money is spent on such ridiculous things. I believe it would be well spent here.

  2. Any additional green space in a big city its more than welcome. I am sure everyone will benefit from this bridge-park. What is the chance it will be cancelled last minute though :/

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