Our response to Lord Rogers' eulogy for old friend Heatherwick's Garden Bridge
(Picture courtesy Cluff/John Longstaff/Private Eye)
The editor of the Evening Standard and former Chancellor George Osborne has allowed architect and long-time personal friend of Thomas Heatherwick, Lord Richard Rogers, to wax lyrical about the Garden Bridge which is in its dying throes. Osborne himself has a lot to answer for given he and Boris Johnson gave a total of £60m of public money towards this wasteful private development. Help bring him and others to account here.
In the meantime, here's our response to this nauseating pap in the Standard from TCOS chair Michael Ball:
Richard Rogers has a nerve! He claims “Architects and planners have worked together in recent years to reinvent the South Bank” – when in fact he wanted to wreck and bulldoze the area with his ghastly quarter-mile slab of high-rise hotels until the local Waterloo community mounted a successful campaign to produce social housing and open spaces in rescued buildings such as the Oxo tower. We loved the river and opened it up for all Londoners, and now over 25 million visitors a year walk along it. Rogers wanted to privatise the river’s edge – as he did further along the Thames – and wants a garden bridge to do so again.
He urbanely mouths the shameless contradiction that a garden bridge would be an “oasis of calm” whilst also “a tourist attraction in its own right” bringing 7m visitors and massive queues – enough to turn the South Bank into a mosh pit on a sunny afternoon. It would require the demolition of 32 mature trees and the loss of the only stretch of grass, replaced by the commercialism of 5,000sq ft. of retail.
It wouldn’t be an “elegant structure”, it would be a huge heap of concrete prissily dressed in bling cupro-nickel, like a tutu on a hippopotamus. It will obliterate the great views of St Paul’s across the Thames from the South Bank. Its 270 “trees” will be glorified shrubs: should they withstand the harsh and unnatural conditions of living in an occasional wind tunnel atop Britain’s largest river, then planning and safety controls will require their permanent stunting to 15m maximum.
He goes on to tediously repeat the advertorial clichés long claimed for this folly: it will connect the South Bank to Covent Garden (no it won’t, it would land half a mile away at the Temple; besides, Waterloo Bridge makes that connection already); pedestrians will use it to get around the city – yet the Bridge’s advocates shyly admit over 50% of visitors will not use it to cross the river; it has “substantial private backing” – in fact it has got in less than half of the money required from private backers, and £20m of pledges have melted away in the past year, despite enjoying £37m of public funds already, without a thing to show for it; and it would meet its running costs – no it wouldn’t, the only Business Plan published reveals that the millionaire’s Trust running the bridge would go bust quickly!
Rogers even claims the construction will be an event – as if Londoners weren’t sick to death of cranes filling the skyline and roads clogged with construction vehicles! In fact the event which appears to have passed Rogers’ by is the public unmasking by ordinary Londoners of the shameless shenanigans, illegalities and dodgy dealings which has marked this wretched project from its inception.