London Mayor Boris Johnson has given the go-ahead to Thomas Heatherwick’s controversial Garden Bridge over the River Thames
Johnson’s final seal of approval paves the way for the construction of the £175million planted bridge to begin next year.
Making his decision, Johnson said: ‘The Garden Bridge will provide a fantastic new landmark for London whilst supporting regeneration and economic growth on both sides of the Thames. It will create a stunning oasis of tranquillity in the heart of our city and boost our plans to encourage walking in the city.’
Proposals for the contentious bridge, which is the brainchild of actor Joanna Lumley, had already been granted planning from Lambeth and Westminster councils.
Deputy mayor for planning Edward Lister confirmed that both these decisions had been given approval by the Mayor’s office and they would not be called in.
He said: ‘Having reviewed this application thoroughly, I am happy for Westminster City Council and Lambeth Council to determine the applications for the Garden Bridge themselves. We have worked hard with both local authorities and the Garden Bridge Trust to ensure that the bridge is of the very highest standard of design while remaining fully accessible to those who work, live in and visit the city.’
The 366m-long bridge will connect Temple on the north bank of the river with the South Bank.
The cost of the bridge is partially being funded by Transport for London (TfL) and the Treasury, which have each committed £30million to its construction.
Earlier this week, during a City Hall question time session, Johnson insisted that the bridge’s expected £3.5million annual maintenance costs would not be picked up by TfL.
The Garden Bridge Trust has suggested that work on the project could begin in December 2015 with the bridge set to open to the public in 2018.
Mervyn Davies, chairman of the Garden Bridge Trust
‘Today’s decision is fantastic news. As well as being London’s newest and most imaginative green space, the Garden Bridge also brings wider benefits, such as reducing pedestrian journey times, creating a new route that avoids busy roads and providing jobs in construction and operations. There will also be dedicated education and volunteering opportunities. We are now looking forward to working with people to create a footbridge which adds to the capital’s rich and diverse cultural heritage, to become a celebrated part of London’s landscape.’
Paul Morrell, vice chair of the Garden Bridge Trust
‘The Garden Bridge will showcase the best of UK design, engineering and landscape talent. We have
given careful consideration to the experience of all those who submitted proposals and believe this list gives a good selection of potential partners to realise this ambitious scheme. It will be a great bridge for a great city.’