URGENT! LAST chance to object to Lambeth’s Garden Bridge plan to profit from loss of South Bank open space!
23 Mar 2016
Last May, Lambeth published their intention to dispose (sell) the green space on the South Bank (pictured here) in order to allow the development of a largely commercial building which would form the foot of the Garden Bridge. Within three weeks Lambeth had received 3,594 objections to this. The space had been designated an ‘Asset of Community Value’ under new legislation which seeks to protect such assets from community loss.
Local people and TCOS made presentations to Full Council in July and November 2015 on the matter, and presented a petition of over 13,000 signatures. In response the Leader of the Council consistently stated that any decision would be taken by Cabinet at a public meeting in an open and transparent way.
Last week the Council slipped out a notice that one Cabinet member (Cllr Jack Hopkins) would now take a decision in private tomorrow (Thursday 24th March), with the obvious intention of seeking to bury such a significant decision in the Easter holidays.
The Council has published an officer’s report recommending that, rather than disposing of the site, they will now simply vary and extend the existing lease to Coin Street Community Builders to enable the construction of the building and the bridge on the green open space, and allow its use for commercial gain (Coin St have a 77 lease to maintain the space as open space and prohibits both development on the space and any commercial activity). By varying the lease rather than ‘disposal’ the Council seek to avoid triggering the protection of the site as an Asset of Community Value.
The repeated arguments presented in the report are that the Garden Bridge will bring significant benefits to the area. It does not acknowledge the proper context of the site, the way in which it was created by the local community with funding from the GLC in order to provide valuable green open space for the hundreds of new residents at Coin St, many of whom have no gardens. It does not set out the conditions of the lease which seek to protect the open space.
Most surprising of all, the report finally reveals Lambeth intends to make an ongoing windfall profit from the commercial development of the site. Lambeth will allow the sub-lease of the 5,000m2 of commercial space created (the equivalent of 2 Tesco Metro shops), and proposes to split the profit from this 50/50 with Coin St. As the report excitedly gushes
“The Council’s view is that the construction of the South Landing Building is an unprecedented windfall opportunity because it will enable a new and valuable, and most importantly, permanent income stream to be generated” (2.11).
It is now clear why the Leader of the Council and senior officers have been so keen to foist the Garden Bridge on us throughout the dozens of secret meetings they have had with proponents since January 2013 – in the meantime meeting local people only once for 35 minutes last November! We are literally the cash cows for an organisation that casually tossed away around £80,000 in legal costs fighting the judicial review we launched last year against the Garden Bridge.
You have only TODAY to make any brief representations to Cllr Hopkins before he takes a decision tomorrow. Local councillors in Bishops ward have vowed to challenge his decision within the Council, and we may challenge it in the Courts, so it is imperative that you email an objection TODAY to demonstrate that there is still huge opposition to these plans.
Please send an email to Cllr Jack Hopkins firstname.lastname@example.org Please copy us in and your MP: Kate Hoey is MP for Vauxhall which includes the site, and is implacably opposed to this project email@example.com
You do not need to write an extensive objection, simply state that you object to the variation in the lease for the site on the South Bank relating to the Garden Bridge, and point out one or more of the following:
• This is a loss of valuable open green space which was created by the community, for the community, out of public funding, for local residents who already have little access to open space • The transformation of this site from open space to a “permanent income stream” for the Council is inappropriate, contrary to the explicit purpose the green space was created, and brazenly immoral • The decision to vary the existing lease rather than attempt a sale (disposal) is a crude device to bypass the protection of the site in its status as an Asset of Community Value • The attempt to take this important decision by a single councillor in private rather than by the Cabinet in public as long promised shows despicable contempt for openness, transparency and democracy – particularly when it has finally been revealed that Lambeth intend to profit from this action.
We are dedicated to saving public space on the South Bank and over the River Thames. The controversial Garden Bridge is not needed here, it would destroy protected views and is democratically and environmentally damaging. Help us stop this now.
17 Sept 2015. GLA Oversight Committee Agenda Item 8, p71-72. Walter Menteth Report submission to the GLA Oversight Committee to inform their examination into the procurement of the design and technical services for the Thames Garden Bridge. Document review, analysis, report & response to GLA questions by Walter Menteth of Project Compass CIC as expert witness on behalf of industry. 34p.