London’s garden bridge: will ‘tiara on the head of fabulous city’ ever be built?

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London's garden bridge: will 'tiara on the head of fabulous city' ever be built?
A CGI visualisation of the proposed garden bridge across the Thames in London / © AFP

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London's garden bridge: will 'tiara on the head of fabulous city' ever be built?
A CGI visualisation of the proposed garden bridge across the Thames in London / © AFP

The next few months are crunch time for the project championed by Joanna Lumley, and there are many obstacles for planners to overcome

Two years ago, when Joanna Lumley launched the fundraising campaign for her cherished idea of a garden bridge across the Thames – a concept she had touted for over a decade – she said it would be seen as “a gift to the people of London”.

But local political opposition is mounting. Its critics include councillors and the MP representing the south landing site, plus the leaders of all four parties on the Greater London Assembly (GLA) at a time when the costs of the proposed pedestrian bridge continue to rise.

Andrew Boff, who leads the Conservative groups on the GLA, calls the project “the wrong bridge in the wrong place”, despite being from the same party as the outgoing London mayor, Boris Johnson, a garden bridge supporter.

“I, for the life of me, can’t see what it adds,” Boff said. “If we want to add a tourist spot to London I’m not against that, but just be intelligent about it. Put it somewhere where people aren’t currently going. Don’t put it somewhere where there’s already loads of people.

“In the long term the garden bridge is just another thing to plant and worry about. For the amount of money that’s being invested in it, it doesn’t seem to solve any problems, it just creates them.”

The first mooted bill for the bridge, reported in 2002, was £19m. By 2013 the sum had reached £60m. It is now likely to cost at least £175m, with £115m to come from private donors, £30m of which has yet to be raised. The balance is to come from public funds. […]

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