Designer Thomas Heatherwick has hit back at critics of his proposed Garden Bridge across the Thames, saying the project will benefit ‘normal people’
The bridge has faced escalating criticism from commentators who have questioned its funding and raised concerns about how it will be used and its impact on sightlines across the river.
In addition, the London Assembly’s oversight committee is currently investigating Transport for London’s procurement process of Heatherwick and engineering designer Arup following a series of stories by the Architects’ Journal obtained through Freedom of Information.
In an interview with the Evening Standard - whose owner Evgeny Lebedev is one of the scheme’s most prominent backers - Heatherwick said: ‘This project is so special because it is for everybody.
‘It will open up views and spaces in London that normal people have never seen before.’
Heatherwick bemoaned a ‘deeply engrained’ scepticism among the British, which he said could scupper his plans.
‘Scepticism can be a very positive force but it can also be deeply unhelpful and hold back progress,’ he said.
‘The intentions behind the bridge are entirely social and altruistic and the fact that it could be held back by a small group of people who are determined to derail it is completely ludicrous and devastating.’
Following a hearing last month with TfL’s director of strategy and policy Richard De Cani along with fellow witnesses Walter Menteth and AJ deputy editor Will Hurst, the committee will this Thursday call TfL’s director of internal audit, Clive Walker, to give evidence.
As AJ recently reported, TfL’s internal audit of the procurement process has been widely condemned and was described as a ‘whitewash’ by Labour mayoral candidate Sadiq Khan after an earlier, more critical version of the review document was leaked to the Architects’ Journal.