Lambeth resident instructs lawyers over recent Lambeth Council decision on South Bank land use
London’s proposed Garden Bridge is today facing a fresh High Court challenge after a Lambeth resident instructed lawyers over a recent decision on land use made by the local council.
Lambeth Council decided last month to vary a lease of the public open space to enable the construction of the South Bank landing site for the Heatherwick Studio-designed bridge.
However, Jenny O’Neill, who lives close to the site, argues the local authority failed to properly consider the loss of the public open space or its status as an Asset of Community Value (ACV), a new designation under the Localism Act intended to protect such assets from disposal.
A year ago, fellow anti-bridge campaigner and Waterloo resident Michael Ball dropped his High Court application for a judicial review of the Garden Bridge after reaching an agreement with the council to deliniate the land as an ACV.
O’Neill, a member of Thames Central Open Spaces (TCOS), a group formed to campaign against the Garden Bridge, said: ‘The impact of the Garden Bridge will be devastating on local residents, on the South Bank, and on London.
’The best views of the City and St Paul’s will be compromised from Waterloo Bridge and entirely blocked along the South Bank, one of the great promenades of Europe and London’s most popular walking area.
‘With football-match sized crowds blocking the riverwalk, and long queuing times predicted, even Transport for London admit it will become ‘very uncomfortable’ on the South Bank, and could end up dangerous.
‘But it is the absolute loss of 30 mature trees a beautiful piece of green open space opened by the Queen that I object most to.’
O’Neill said she also strongly objected to the fact that one Lambeth councillor took the decision in private ‘despite numerous promises that this would be a public decision taken at a public meeting where the public could make clear their opposition’.
She has instructed Bernadette Hillman, London head of planning at the law firm Shakespeare Martineau, which is understood to have sent a pre-action letter to the council ahead of an application to the High Court.
Hillman said: ‘We are asking the court to quash the decision and to send the project back to Lambeth Council for much more careful consideration. This needs to happen before significant changes are made and actions that have been based on inaccurate information and insight become irreparable.’
Construction on the £175m bridge, which would be managed by the Garden Bridge Trust, was due to start last year but has been delayed by sustained political opposition and numerous setbacks including a £32m funding gap on construction costs.
A spokesperson for Lambeth said: ‘Lambeth council is confident of its robust decision making process regarding the Garden Bridge, which includes planning, Asset of Community Value designation and the ongoing lease negotiations with Coin Street Community Builders.’