DEBATE: Should the idea of building a Garden Bridge in London ever have been taken seriously?
YES – Bee Emmott is executive director of the Garden Bridge Trust
It was much more than just an idea. With initial backing from both mayors, the project received planning permission and licences necessary to start construction. With contractors on board, the team had worked up detailed plans ready to begin work. A new pedestrian walkway linking the north and the south bank in central London, free to use, open to everyone, a wonderful new public garden, changing throughout the seasons, giving inspiration and enjoyment to many Londoners and visitors alike, transforming the central London skyline.
London is known for its creativity, boldness and imagination and for achieving world firsts. Most of the technical work had been done, most planning conditions met, and with £70m of private money ready to be invested in London, it is a great shame that the dream of the Garden Bridge will not now become a reality.
NO – Caroline Pidgeon is leader of the Liberal Democrat London Assembly Group.
The foremost consideration for all transport projects should be: how effective is it at getting people from A to B?
Part pedestrian highway, part privileged theme park, the garden bridge scored poorly on every transport measure available. It lacked a clear sense of purpose and was championed by Boris and an out of touch Trust. More bridges are needed in London. East Londoners are poorly served by transport infrastructure and cyclists need safer routes to cross the river. However, the siting of the garden bridge would further clog the Southbank and block views of St Paul’s, while doing nothing to ease London’s transport burden. Originally touted as private sector philanthropy, taxpayers were swiftly expected to chip in and pick up a blank cheque for the bridge’s maintenance costs. The funding and procurement process was as murky as the Thames and the bridge’s business case lay in tatters upon release. Public money must never be wasted on such a pet project again.