Thursday24 August 2017

Garden Bridge attacked as ‘luvvies' folly’

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Campaign group attacks wisdom of spending taxpayers’ cash on scheme

A campaign group opposed to plans to build Thomas Heatherwick’s Garden Bridge in central London has described it as a “luvvies’ folly”.

The bridge has been championed by actress Joanna Lumley but Thames Central Open Space (TCOS) has said the project, which is now expected to cost £175 million, should be scrapped. It scraped through a Lambeth planning hearing last week by four votes to three.

The proposed bridge, designed by Heatherwick Studio with engineer Arup and gardener Dan Pearson, would span the Thames from the South Bank, in the borough of Lambeth, to the roof of Temple Tube station in Westminster.

But a spokesman for the lobby group said: “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.”


Heatherwick Studio and Arup's garden bridge

Heatherwick Studio and Arup’s garden bridge


Lambeth is due to make a final decision next year, following last Tuesday’s decision – but with a list of 46 conditions on issues such as a public safety.

A council spokesman said: “Our duty is to make sure we have a scheme that works in practice and our planning team have been working with the Garden Bridge Trust to make sure there are appropriate measures in place to accommodate the number of potential visitors, and there’s a suitable management plan in place for maintenance.

“That was made a condition on the application coming before our planning committee and the committee has directed that these matters are referred back to ensure full public scrutiny prior to their final agreement.”

Among those who have raised concerns are the City of London Corporation and Middle Temple. The corporation warned the bridge would obscure views of St Paul’s Cathedral from parts of the South Bank, while the inn of court feared the 366m link would precipitate a deluge of tourists on to its historic estate.

Others have questioned why such a large amount of public money, including £30 million each from the Treasury and Transport for London, is being spent on a crossing in an area already well provided for with bridges – the Hungerford, Waterloo, Blackfriars and the Millennium bridges are all within walking distance of Heatherwick’s proposal..

The TCOS spokesman added: “The taxpayer should not be bearing a £60 million cost for a transport project that excludes bicycles. The opportunity to walk across London in a whimsical environment should not outweigh the significant harm the bridge would do to the Thames and its protected views – not to mention the thousands of other worthy projects that could do with public investment.”

Lord Mervyn Davies, chairman of the Garden Bridge Trust and a former chief executive of banking group Standard Chartered, said: “The support for the bridge has been overwhelming. The trust also acknowledges some concerns have been raised, but continues to work closely with local communities to address them.”


New image of the Garden Bridge by Heatherwick Studio and Arup showing the north landing.

Source: ArupAndHeatherwickStudio

The Garden Bridge by Heatherwick Studio and Arup showing the north landing.



Readers' comments (15)

  • The way it ends here, near Temple tube station, sticking out like that, it looks like one of those half-baked projects in which the architects never bothered to make the thing blend in. With a ramp for instance.

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  • Apart from that, given that this thing will cost only a bit more than 1 Eurofighter jet, and given that it is likely to be prettier and more useful than a Eurofighter jet to people like me, then who am I to complain? 1 more bridge, 1 less Eurofighter? As long as it isn't 1 less hospital, I'm in.

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  • Khab, that's because Heatherwick isn't an architect...

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  • Build a bridge by all means, but build a bridge where one is needed. Pedestrian crossing of the Thames near Canary Wharf would be most welcome as long as ships could still get through.

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  • As can be seen by the illustration, the north landing has a catastrophically overbearing effect on the charmingly scaled Embankment Station, which isn't in Lambeth of course.

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  • Rebuild old London Bridge instead - renting shops inside the little wooden houses overhanging the river would fund it, the site is available, will bring in tourist pounds, nice and retro so would appeal to everyone currently afraid of our bleak and depressing future, would also be a daft folly that everyone would go crazy for. Next stop glossy CGIs and endorsement by delightful celebrity.

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  • Mr Warthog

    "walk across London in a whimsical environment"

    Nail on head. It's a Richard Curtis cuteswamp of a scheme.

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  • Just wait for the bridge design to be novated to a contractors internal design team and VE'd the pants off it.

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  • Khabdina, there's the rub. Schools ARE falling down, hospital wards are at capacity, nursery places are being restricted because - as we keep being told by this Government - there 'simply isn't the money' - we are living in 'austere times'. As a tiny example - our local nursery struggled to muster a tiny amount of money from Hampshire County Council (about £250k) in these straightened times to replace its crumbling 1950s building - meaning it can only afford smaller premises, leading to a 10% reduction in the number of children it can accommodate.

    Meanwhile, we have Boris, Lumley & Heatherwick putting forward a vanity bridge in a location where its not needed, under a bizarre premise (a park over a river? What?!!!), blocking views up & downstream (thereby undermining the whole genius loci of a city on a river).

    I'm sure trophy projects like these play hugely to BoJo's favoured audience, non-resident, overseas high net wealth property speculators (preferably Russians or Chinese at the moment) but I'm yet to be convinced of its wider merits. On that basis, I'm somewhat ambivalent between this and a Typhoon.

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  • We need more bridges across the Thames, but not here and not for tourists to gawp from.
    There is not a single bridge across the river in London that has been designed for and is safe for cyclists. Let's put that right first.

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