London’s Garden Bridge project officially abandoned

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Garden Bridge planImage copyright Heatherwick Studio
Image caption A review of the project said more than £37m had already been spent

A £200m plan to build a bridge covered with trees across the River Thames in central London has officially been abandoned.

The Garden Bridge Trust has announced that it is winding up the project due to a lack of support from the mayor.

In April, Sadiq Khan said he would not provide the financial guarantee needed for planning permission.

A review of the project said £37.4m had been spent and it would cost taxpayers £46.4m if it was cancelled.

Since the mayor’s decision, the trust has been looking at other funding options, including speaking to the government. It said that all potential benefactors and trustees decided the project could not happen without the support of the mayor.

‘Sad day’

In a letter to the Mr Khan, the trust’s chairman Lord Davies said: “We are incredibly sad that we have not been able to make the dream of the Garden Bridge a reality and that the mayor does not feel able to continue with the support he initially gave us.”

He said the trust had raised £70m of private money towards the project and had satisfied most of the planning permission conditions.

“The Garden Bridge would have been a unique place; a beautiful new green space in the heart of London, free to use and open to all, showcasing the best of British talent and innovation,” Lord Davies said.

“It is all the more disappointing because the trust was set up at the request of TfL (Transport for London), the organisation headed up by the mayor, to deliver the project. It is a sad day for London because it is sending out a message to the world that we can no longer deliver such exciting projects.”

Image copyright Arup
Image caption Dame Margaret Hodge’s review said the Garden Bridge’s costs were spiralling out of control

A review into whether the Garden Bridge offered taxpayers value for money said the project should be scrapped.

TfL had pledged £30m, but £20m of that was to be a loan, and the rest was from central government.

When he announced his decision not to back the bridge, Mr Khan said the project would expose taxpayers to financial risk.

“I have been clear that this should not be allowed to happen. Accordingly, the GLA (Greater London Authority) is unable to provide mayoral guarantees for this project.

“I regret that the significant expenditure of public funds and effort from both public bodies and the Garden Bridge Trust has not led to a situation where I can provide the guarantees requested.”

Mr Khan has been asked for his response to the latest development.

BBC London’s transport correspondent Tom Edwards said: “It was never really a transport project, it was a tourist attraction and crucially in 2012 no-one asked locals if they wanted it.”

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