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Garden Bridge objector given judicial review boost

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A judge has overturned a ruling refusing resident Michael Ball the right to challenge Lambeth Council’s decision to approve Thomas Heatherwick’s controversial Garden Bridge

Ball, who heads up the Waterloo Community Development Group, was told last month he could not bring judicial review proceedings against the authority over the issue of whether the council had adequately considered the costs of maintaining the bridge when rubberstamping the scheme in November (AJ 12.11.14).

However yesterday (21 April) a High Court judge ruled that Lambeth Council may have ignored potential funding gaps - a decision which paves the way for questions over the £175 million bridge’s maintenance costs to be included at the forthcoming judicial review hearing in June.

The ruling means the judicial review will now challenge the bridge on two fronts – its impact on central London’s iconic views and its maintenance costs.

David Forsdick QC, acting for Ball, stated that the planning justification for what would be a wholly exceptional bridge and an iconic tourist attraction with virtually no income stream meant that maintenance and funding issues needed to be faced before the bridge was built.

If the judicial review challenge into Lambeth’s planning approval is successful it would be a major setback for the Garden Bridge Trust.

A successful challenge would quash the council’s permission granted in October 2014 and would mean the bridge would require new appraisals before it could again go before councillors for a decision – a process likely to take months.

But work on the bridge must begin before the end of the year to avoid a clash with the construction of the £4.2 billion Thames Tideway Tunnel, which involves excavation at Blackfriars close to the proposed site of the bridge.

In a statement the Garden Bridge Trust, said: ‘’We have a clear business plan in place to fund the construction of the Garden Bridge and the estimated £3.5 million per annum needed for ongoing maintenance and operations. 

‘We will use a mixed model approach to secure the funds including individual and cooperate membership programmes, a small number of sponsorship opportunities and events, as well as some carefully selected commercial opportunities.’

It added: ‘In the meantime we are working closely with the LB Lambeth to discuss the next steps following the decision and continue to work with stakeholders and local communities with the intention to begin on site early next year.’

Previously Paul Morrell, who is currently deputy chairman of scheme backers the Garden Bridge Trust, said he did not expect the judicial review of  Lambeth Council’s handling of the planning approval for the scheme to delay the project.

Morrell said that while he respected the review process, he did not believe the challenge had merit.

‘Between now and June we will do exactly what we were going to do, so assuming the judicial review fails it will not affect our programme at all,’ he said.

The judicial review is set to take place in June and is expected to last two days.

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Readers' comments (2)

  • If only the judicial review could also examine Transport for London's use of public money to help fund a bridge that has no provision for cyclists - the clue is in the word 'transport'.
    Boris would be better advised to put the money into reconstructing the historic Euston Arch

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  • For the £60million that Transport for London and The Treasury have committed to the Garden Bridge project the public money could be used instead to provide a stunning lightweight pedestrian and cyclist crossing to provide a portal to enable views up and down the river. The monstrous white elephant that is Garden Bridge project should be abandoned. If the City types are determined to create an additional hectare of greenery in this part of London then a scheme could be devised to create a green space at each abutment of the new lightweight bridge or else extend the embankment between the two adjoining road bridges. All this design work could take place whilst the Thames Tideway project is proceeding. There would then be no clash between the two major construction projects.
    In a time of continuing austerity, vanity projects such as the Garden Bridge proposal should be rejected.

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