Garden Bridge legal challenge launched over “devastating” visual impact

Bridge would “compromise” views from Waterloo Bridge and Southbank, campaigner argues

A disgruntled Londoner has launched a legal battle against the controversial garden bridge planned to span the Thames in central London.

Michael Ball, a former planning director from Tulse Hill in London, claims that Lambeth Council has unlawfully granted the project permission after failing to protect particular buildings in the area, including Somerset House, the BBC reports.

Ball, who was born close to the site of the proposed bridge, said: “The impact of the garden bridge will be devastating.

“The best views of the City and St Paul’s will be compromised from Waterloo Bridge and entirely blocked along the south bank.”

Ball’s lawyers are also arguing that long term funding arrangements haven’t been properly considered.

Why is it dividing opinion?

The £175m foliage-festooned bridge would connect Temple with the Southbank, and will cost £3.5m in annual maintenance - £64m of this will be public money.

Civil engineers have described it as “the most expensive footbridge in the world”, and Shadow transport minister Lord Davies of Oldham described the bridge as a “very expensive piece of public art”, and “a vanity project of the mayor”.

The bridge was originally conceived by Absolutely Fabulous actor Joanna Lumley, and has been designed by Thomas Heatherwick.

London Mayor Boris Johnson has been enthusiastic in his support for the bridge. In December last year he said: “The garden bridge will provide a fantastic new landmark for London whilst supporting regeneration and economic growth on both sides of the Thames.

“It will create a stunning oasis of tranquillity in the heart of our city and boost our plans to encourage walking in the city.”

It is expected to attract visitor numbers of 7.1 million a year, and anticipated peak crowds of 30,000 on Saturdays. It will have a capacity of 2,500.

But cyclists will not be able to use the bridge, and no groups exceeding eight in number will be granted access. It will also be closed at night.

Picnicking on the bridge will also be forbidden.

The Thames Central Open Space campaign has also pointed out that the plans for a building at the bridge’s southern landing point would necessitate the felling of 30 trees on the south bank for an area that will most likely end up as a retail space.

Furthermore, critics argue the area the bridge serves already has four bridges within a mile of each other, while new crossings are desperately required east of the City.

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Readers' comments (2)

  • Anonymous

    The ridiculous Thames Cable Car should be closed down immediately. Instead of using public money for West End vanity projects money saved by scrapping the Garden Bridge combined with the economies achieved from not wasting more money on silly cable cars could be used to build a bridge in East London. This would benefit Londoners and not just the metropolitan elite in W1 and SW1.

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  • I agree.The clean lines of a bridge-Waterloo, Westminster, Hammersmith, Lambeth or the Albert suspension bridge etc. should stand out and contrast with the softer, less formal shapes along the shorelines.
    A bridge is a bridge and a tree is a tree.
    Both should be beautiful ,don't mix them up.

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