The saga of London’s controversial Thames Garden Bridge project has finally come to end, as the Garden Bridge Trust has announced the official “closure of the project” after losing the support of the public and London Mayor Sadiq Khan.
"It is with great regret that Trustees have concluded that without Mayoral support the project cannot be delivered,” said Lord Mervyn Davies, Chairman of the Garden Bridge Trust in a statement released today.
“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.”
Khan officially withdrew support for the project earlier this year, citing soaring construction costs and potential maintenance issues outlined in an April report conducted by Labour MP Margaret Hodge. A reported £37 million of public funds had already been spent on the project, money that will not be able to be recovered.
“It’s my duty to ensure taxpayers’ money is spent responsibly,” Khan said. “I have been clear since before I became mayor that no more London taxpayers’ money should be spent on this project and when I took office, I gave the Garden Bridge Trust time to try to address the multiple serious issues with it.”
The ambitious project, designed by British architect Thomas Heatherwick, was first unveiled in 2013 as the result of a competition held by Transport for London. Early proponents believed the bridge would generate tourism and serve as useful pedestrian infrastructure, while critics saw it as a “vanity project” in an area of the city already well connected by a number of bridges.. Despite receiving planning approval in 2014, skyrocketing costs and questions about the legitimacy of the procurement process led to further loss of public and official support.
"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,” continued Davies. “It is all the more disappointing because the Trust was set up at the request of TfL, 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.”
Read the Trust’s full statement, here.