RIBA president Jane Duncan has changed her stance on the controversial Garden Bridge project and is no longer calling for it to be stopped
Earlier this year Duncan wrote to former mayor Boris Johnson and Transport for London (TfL) expressing her concerns over the procurement of the Thomas Heatherwick-designed scheme and urging the £175 million project to be temporarily halted.
However, just days after RIBA London passed a new motion for the ’project to be put on hold while the process is opened up to full and detailed independent scrutiny’, Duncan has told the AJ she has now dropped that demand.
Duncan insists her change in position is for pragmatic reasons and has maintained her demand for an independent inquiry into the ‘flawed procurement process’. It is understood Duncan has also met TfL since speaking out in February.
In a statement to the AJ, Duncan said: ‘Things have changed and further details have emerged since I made my statement in February, including the appointment of London’s new mayor who has highlighted the failings in the procurement of the project and committed to full transparency on it. He has also raised concerns about the impact on the public purse of halting the project at this stage.’
She added: ‘In that context, I am very aware, with regret, that the project is unlikely to be put on hold at this stage but I believe there is a real need for full, independent and detailed scrutiny of the procurement.’
Her comments in February - which responded to AJ’s long-running investigation into the Garden Bridge design competitions - were ‘very specifically about the flawed procurement process’, said Duncan. Since that time, ‘positive discussions’ have been held with TfL about making improvements ‘so that future public procurement projects in London and throughout the UK are delivered to the high standards the public expect and deserve.’
The RIBA president’s clarification over her current position comes after the AJ revealed how RIBA Council members will debate a motion calling for the project to be put on hold pending an investigation into the procurement. This matter will be discussed at a RIBA Council meeting in Portland Place, London on 29 June.