Authors, architects and artists line up to lambast ‘abysmal’ garden bridge plan

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London's garden bridge: 'it feels like we're trying to pull off a crime'
The hanging gardens of new Babylon … Thomas Heatherwick’s proposed Thames bridge. // Photo: Arup

Critics are speaking out against the design and funding of Joanna Lumley’s £175m scheme ahead of a judicial review

The £175m proposal for a garden bridge on the Thames is facing an escalating backlash from leading novelists, cultural figures and architects who have slammed the cost, location and “abysmal” design of the project.

Questions were raised over the procurement process last week after the Observer revealed new details on the key role played by Joanna Lumley in charming the London mayor, Boris Johnson, into backing her dream. Others argued that designer Thomas Heatherwick was the “wrong person” for the job.

Despite original plans for the bridge to be entirely paid for by private sponsors, the public contribution to the Absolutely Fabulous star’s dream of a corridor of green across the Thames has now risen to £60m – £30m from the chancellor, George Osborne, and another £30m from Johnson.

Among an abundance of critics, Sir John Tusa, former managing director of the City of London’s Barbican arts centre, said the bridge “sounds like a colossal vanity project for Lumley, Johnson and Osborne”. He added: “[It’s] extraordinary how large lumps of capital funds come out of Johnson’s and Osborne’s back pockets for their pet projects. Who needs it? Who wants it? Who will pay to run it? It all adds up to a misuse of power, position and influence.” []


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