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Lambeth approves Heatherwick's Garden Bridge


Thomas Heatherwick’s proposed £175million bridge across the River Thames has been given the green light by Lambeth Council

The controversial 367m-long project linking Queen’s Walk on the South Bank with London Underground’s Temple Station on the north side of the river, was approved by five votes to two last night (11 November)

However the planted bridge, which is the brainchild of actor Joanna Lumley scheme and backed by the Garden Bridge Trust, still needs the thumbs up from Westminster City Council. The borough’s planning committee is expected to consider the plans and how they will impact on the northern embankment next month (December).

Critics of the scheme claim it would potentially affect key sight lines and is ‘in the wrong place’. A petition, launched by campaign group Thames Central Open Space to stop the proposal, amassed more than 780 signatures (see AJ 29.10.14).

Speaking after the approval Heatherwick, the founder of Heatherwick Studios, said: ‘The Garden Bridge will be an extraordinarily special place, either to race across, relax in or look back at the rest of the city’s sights. It is fantastic that the Lambeth has helped London take one step closer to making it a reality.’

Lumley added: ‘The Bridge is a fantastic example of innovative thinking that will help enhance the quality of life in London for both local communities and visitors alike, and is a project the UK can be proud of.’    

Alistair Subba Row, senior partner at property advisors Farebrother, also welcomed the decision, claiming the approval was ‘great news for London’.

He said: ‘The proposed bridge would unite two of London’s most exciting areas, Midtown and South Bank, forming London’s ‘creative and technological spine’ running from Kings Cross in the north to Elephant and Castle  in the South.

Delivery of the Garden Bridge would fundamentally pave the way for much needed regeneration and economic development in this part of the South Bank creating thousands of local jobs in the future.’

Once both authorities have approved the proposals, they will be passed on for endorsement to London Mayor Boris Johnson and communities secretary Eric Pickles.

In June Garden Bridge Trustee and former chief construction adviser to the Government Paul Morrell said that the Trust had set a self-imposed deadline for construction to begin next year due to the disruption caused by the proposed Thames Tideway Tunnel which is due to start in 2017.


Thames Central Open Space spokesperson Wai-King Cheung

‘With 22 visitor attractions and the largest arts centre in Europe, the South Bank does not need another attraction, let alone the largest in the UK. Visitors will be jostled and crushed in an area already heaving with tourists.

‘The thousands of local residents, many in social housing, will have their lives blighted. One of Europe’s great promenades and riverscapes will be lost forever - for a luvvies folly which provides less than half a football pitch of green open space. We look forward to a legal challenge being mounted against Lambeth’s half-baked decision.’



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Readers' comments (2)

  • Is central London at risk of becoming an overblown version of the Museum of Curiosities?
    Many will be saluting the vision and ingenuity of Lumley and Heatherwick, but many will also be wondering about the impact on the vision of this familiar and iconic (for want of a nicer word) stretch of the Thames - and they'll be wondering at what sort of society is indulging in such frippery (follies?) when we're being warned of further national belt-tightening and austerity in the coming years. Will it one day be seen as a reminder of the hugely profitable crookery in the City of London, a piece of monumental bling?

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  • It's a pity the real story isn't told: Lambeth almost refused this - a motion to refuse was defeated by 4 votes to 3, despite the charm of Lumley, Heatherwick, and TfL senior Richard Di Cani. Lambeth attached 46 conditions which must be resolved and come back to the committee before a final decision.
    For the wheels to start coming off an infrastructure project at this stage must be worrying. They don't have the money - £30m raised from private funds for a £175m project, with £60m promised by Boris and George which may well be reviewed by their successors. Citigroups celebrated £3m donation last week won't pay for one year of the £3.5m annual running costs. And they don't yet even have an interest in the land. Oh, and the Temple sent a late objection threatening Lambeth that they would be acting illegally if they granted permission at this stage...
    Garden Bridge hits troubled waters more like

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