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Garden Bridge gains momentum - and vilification

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Heatherwick’s grand plans for a bridge across the Thames sailed into troubled waters in 2014

Is it a transport scheme or a green space that just happens to cross a river? Is it a risky and expensive vanity project or a calm and beautiful spot with added benefits of connectivity? Perhaps it is all of these.

Whatever the Garden Bridge is, this year it has become a lot closer to being built, while simultaneously attracting torrents of criticism.

The project got off to a bad start in January when members of the House of Lords attacked it. Labour peer and shadow transport minister Bryan Davies claimed it had little to do with transport and was instead a ‘very expensive piece of public art’.

In June the trust behind the scheme emphasised that building work would need to begin by mid-summer 2015 in order to avoid clashing with disruption on the river caused by construction of the Thames Tideway Tunnel.

Local campaigners began lobbying against the bridge, gaining momentum in November when details of entry restrictions for the planned ‘public’ structure emerged, including the requirement for groups of eight or more to give advance notice of visiting.

In December, the AJ revealed concerns about Transport for London’s appointment of Heatherwick Studio to the scheme in 2013. The London Assembly is now to investigate the procurement process.

Nevertheless, the bridge now has planning permission from both Lambeth and Westminster councils. With mayor Boris Johnson firmly committed, those trying to stop the Garden Bridge from becoming reality have a major fight on their hands.

Here we present three key images of the project and ‘Garden Bridge (with apologies to Stanley Tigerman’sTitanic and Jeremy Deller’s We Sit Starving Amidst Our Gold)’ by architect Sam Jacob (2015).


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