Thomas Heatherwick's Garden Bridge will be a privately managed tourist spot attracting "30,000 visitors a day"

Emma Haslett
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The Garden Bridge will cost £175m to build (Source: Arup)

Those who had envisaged long afternoons languishing amid the vegetation on Thomas Heatherwick's £175m Garden Bridge may be in for an unpleasant surprise: it turns out that the bridge will be a privately managed tourist attraction, requiring large groups to book in advance.

The bridge, supported very vocally by Joanna Lumley, who described it as a "tiara on the head of our fabulous city", was given the go-ahead by planners in Lambeth and Westminster last week.

But architect industry magazine Building Design reports that its backers had more than 40 public safety conditions to satisfy because of concerns over its "effects upon the historic, working and residential environment of Middle Temple and the Temple Conservation Area". The bridge will link Temple on the north of the river with the South Bank.

(Source: Arup)

As a consequence, "all groups of eight or more visitors would be required to contact the Graden Bridge Trust to request a formal visit to the bridge. This policy would not only assist visitor management but also would discourage protest groups from trying to access the bridge", said a planning report given to its planning committee.

Other details that emerged from the planning documents suggest the bridge will be privately managed by the Garden Bridge Trust, the registered charity behind the bridge. The bridge will carry the weight of 270 trees and will be closed 12 days a year for various functions. It'll be able to hold 2,500 people at a time, and is expected to attract 7.1 million visitors a year, with peak crowds of 30,000 on a Saturday and 27,000 on weekdays. In other words, it'll be standing room only. Guess those picnics we had planned are off, then...

Want to know more? Here's a video - narrated, naturally, by Joanna Lumley.

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