Lambeth’s planning department have totally ignored the needs of the community and seems determined to push through an approval for the Garden Bridge whatever the cost to London or the nation as a whole. Let’s be clear: it’s not a garden. Only 2,400m2 of the 6,000m2 will be green; the rest is concrete. That’s the equivalent of less than half a football pitch to cater for 7 million visitors a year.
It won’t be used as a bridge: according to the developers at least half the people going on it would not cross the river, but would do a U-turn. It will be closed at night and at least 15 times a year for events.
It doesn’t connect key London spaces like Covent Garden – for most people it will be quicker to cross the river 200m away at Waterloo Bridge or Blackfriars Bridge for St Paul’s. Cyclists are not allowed on.It’s going to get very busy: according to the developers 7 million visitors will flock to it in its first year –that’s more visitors than the London Eye, where 30 minutes queuing time is normal.
The South Bank is already the busiest open space in the UK, with an estimated 26 million visitors a year. And at the busiest times numbers on the South Bank will be up by 70%. This will not be pleasant.It’s going to block stunning views on Waterloo Bridge and along the riverwalk which provide a rare sense of space and openness, and a gorgeous perspective on many of London’s great buildings like St Paul’s Cathedral.
The Garden Bridge would also block views of Somerset House, and the City skyline and would truncate views along and across the river. The developers say it will provide new views, but only by standing in front of existing and long-cherished views. It’s not free: initially announced as entirely privately funded at £60m, costs have ballooned to £175m.
Heatherwick has form on this, like the Blue Carpet in Newcastle. But with no news of significant private investment, George Osborne and Boris Johnson have already thrown £60m of our money into the hat. You could build 10 brand new Jubilee Gardens for that price, producing 50 times as much green space.
And the Bridge would cost £3.5m per year to maintain. There is no evidence of where this will come from. If the Trust can’t find it, it will all fall to the public purse.So it’s going to get commercial: a supermarket-sized building is proposed on the South Bank to accommodate the Garden Bridge Trust offices and a giant shop or cafe.
Although the riverwalk was initially free, this year for the first time ever Boris Johnson is charging £10 for tickets to line the river and see the New Year’s Eve fireworks. The Garden Bridge will surely follow.In the end it’s just another tourist attraction. But there are already 22 national arts venues along the South Bank, plus the London Dungeon, London Eye, London Aquarium, Shrek ’s Far Far Away Adventure, and dozens of shops and cafes.
And beneath all the noise and bustle, it will wreck the river’s beach and delicate eco-system. The scouring and scarring from piles driven through the riverbed threatens the flora and fauna which support the river and its wildlife. The river foreshore – the beach – is London’s largest unexcavated archaeological site. Every time somebody builds into the river more of our history is washed away.
The Garden Bridge Trust spent 18 months working the politicians and planners before speaking to the thousands of people who live locally. They ran a limited 'national' PR consultation but only got 2,426 responses. We have run a local petition over a few weeks and already have over 1,000 signatures implacably opposed.The Trust have arrogantly presented us with what they consider a gold-plated fait accompli and expected us to be grateful. But we’re not. They would destroy the great beauty of the South Bank to erect a luvvies folly. DON’T LET THEM.Lambeth Planning Application Committee report: read it and weep: http://moderngov.lambeth.gov.uk/documents/s69725/06_garden%20bridge%20PAC%20report.pdf