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Thames Garden Bridge construction 'needs to begin within a year'

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Work on Thomas heatherwick’s proposed £175million Thames Garden Bridge may have to start before it is fully funded otherwise it may never get built at all, organisers have said

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.

Morrell said that the piling and central section of the ‘green’ link between Temple and the South Bank needed to be complete ahead of work on the massive £4.2billion ‘super sewer’ project in 2017 which will see boat loads of spoil being transported down the Thames.

The Thames Tideway Tunnel will run along the length of the Thames from Acton in the West to Abbey Mills and Greenwich in the East.

Speaking to the AJ at a public talk organised as a part of the London Festival of Architecture, Morrell said: ‘When the Thames Tideway Tunnel is built, huge spoils of soil will be coming down the river.

‘It is therefore the harbour master’s wish that we are out of the river by around 2017 in terms of piling and the central section. So that sets us a timescale and to do that we are going to need to start about mid-summer next year.’

Morrell added: ‘We need to know in about a year’s time that we have sufficient confidence that we will have the funds to get the bridge built.

‘If we raise all but £8million we can be confident that we will raise the rest, and we can say to people ‘look it’s happening’ and the money can go straight into concrete and plants.

‘As a charitable trust we have to be very careful about the commitments we make, so we’ve given ourselves a year to raise the money based on that Thames Tunnel target.’

The Thames Garden Bridge Trust has currently raised approximately £90million to fund the bridge, with £30million of that total pledged by the Government from the National Infrastructure Plan and a further £30million by the Mayor of London. A planning application for the bridge was submitted to Lambeth Council on 30 May.

The three main backers of the Thames Garden Bridge, Joanna Lumley, Thomas Heatherwick and Dan Pearson discussed the project in public together for the first time on Thursday [June 26] at the Siobhan Davies Dance Studios as part of the London Festival of Architecture.

During a Q&A session at the talk Lumley said that there was no plan to sell the naming rights to the Bridge: ‘We have a name, it’s the Thames Garden Bridge. Londoners though do have an ability to make up names for things, so I am sure it will get a name in the future’.

Designer Thomas Heatherwick explained how the new bridge would act as a catalyst to link the South Bank to the North Bank as a single arts centre which spanned the Thames from Covent Garden to Royal Festival Hall.

‘We realised there was room to reconnect us to the river and shine a light on this part of London. Waterloo Bridge is fantastic for things with wheels on, but we were looking for something which is fantastic for things with legs on.’

Garden designer Dan Pearson said that the bridge had to carefully consider the wider context of central London’s existing iconic attractions if it was going to be a success: ‘One of the things we’ve had to consider very carefully is how we frame London.

‘One of the magical things about a garden is that it frames things in different ways, and allows us to mix views of both St Pauls, Somerset House and The Shard, which we want to have people occupy and enjoy during their time on the bridge.’













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