Like this site? Help us to make it better.

Planning permission granted for London's controversial Garden Bridge - where bikes are banned

City of Westminster joins Lambeth in giving go-ahead to project, despite public money being needed to build it

The City of Westminster has joined the London Borough of Lambeth in granting planning permission for the controversial Garden Bridge spanning the River Thames – but it wants Transport for London to commit to funding its annual maintenance costs for as long as it stands.

In granting planning consent for the proposed structure, on which cycling will be banned, the City of Westminster’s Planning Applications Committee said it “would make a significant contribution to Westminster’s vitality, character and role within London as a world city.”

However, the project is coming under increasing criticism, partly because the bridge, the brainchild of actress Joanna Lumley and designed by Thomas Heatherwick, was originally conceived as a privately-financed project but will now be part-funded by public money.

The estimated cost has almost nearly trebled from £60 million when it was unveiled last year to £175 million now.

Of that, £60 million of public money will be needed to finance its construction, £30 million each from HM Treasury and TfL – which may also be required to fund annual running costs currently estimated at £3.5 million.

TfL supports the construction of the bridge but its prime function does not appear to be to act as a piece of infrastructure that will help Londoners and visitors get from A to B as quickly as possible.

It will be closed from midnight to 6am, security staff will be on employed to deal with an estimated 7 million visitors each year, bicycles will be banned and groups of eight or more people will have to obtain advance permission to use it.

Lawyers at Middle Temple, which is located on the north bank of the Thames - the area releavant to the City of Westminster planning application - expressed concerns about forecast visitor numbers, believing they have been underestimated.

Moreover, some point out that it will ruin protected views of St Paul’s Cathedral from the South Bank and Waterloo Bridge, and it will also be closed a number of times a year so it can host private events.

But according to one of the Westminster councillors who gave planning permission by a majority of three to one, protected view or not, beauty is very much in the eye of the beholder.

Councillor Susie Burbridge, quoted in The Independent, said: “It comes down to whether you like views of trees or buildings. It’s a very subjective thing.

“There’s a magnificent view of the city from St James’s Park, but I often think it would be better if only they cut trees down a little more.

“But I love trees too,” she added.

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

Latest Comments